Orkney Islands Council
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Flypast on centenary of Dunning’s historic landing

Flypast on centenary of Dunning’s historic landing
01 August 2017

A new memorial to pioneering pilot Edwin Dunning will be unveiled in Orkney tomorrow (Wednesday 2 August).

On 2 August 1917, Squadron Commander Dunning landed a Sopwith Pup biplane on HMS Furious in Scapa Flow.

It was the first time an aircraft had touched down on the deck of a moving ship and marked the dawn of aviation from aircraft carriers.

Tragically, Dunning died a week later when, attempting the feat again, his aircraft lost power, made a hard landing and was swept overboard by strong winds.

Tomorrow, a new plaque marking the centenary of his historic achievement will be unveiled at Scapa at 11:00 by Rear Admiral Fleet Air Arm Keith Blount, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Aviation, Amphibious Capability and Carriers).

Soon after, a flypast by a modern day Royal Navy aircraft, a Hawk T Mk 1 from 736 Naval Air Squadron, is scheduled to take place.

The Hawk will overfly the memorial at low level from north to south and then make a second pass in landing configuration - with wheels and wing flaps extended - simulating an aircraft carrier landing approach.

Lieutenant Commander Barry Issitt, Commanding Officer of 736 Naval Air Squadron, said: “The event itself is of particular significance to the Royal Navy and Fleet Air Arm as it marks the first successful landing of a fixed-wing aircraft on a ship underway at sea; a moment that would be the genesis for the establishment of the pre-eminence of aircraft carriers.

“It is all the more poignant considering the current regeneration of the UK’s carrier capability, with HMS Queen Elizabeth currently conducting sea trials not far from the location of Dunning’s landing, with Merlin helicopters from 820 Naval Air Squadron operating from her flight deck.”

Normally based at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in Cornwall, the jet taking part in the commemoration is currently operating from Prestwick International Airport and supporting Saxon Warrior, a large scale maritime exercise taking place over the next two weeks around the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, involving aircraft and ships from a number of NATO nations.

The new plaque has been produced by local craftsman Stuart Wylie.