New book launch marks Baird of Bute weekend

A NEW biography of Andrew Blain Baird is one of the centrepieces of this weekend’s celebration of the life and work of Bute’s very own aviation pioneer.

Written by Baird of Bute festival founder Chris Markwell, ‘Andrew Blain Baird - Aviation Pioneer’ tells the story of the humble Bute blacksmith who undertook the very first all-Scottish heavier-than-air powered flight at Ettrick Bay on September 24, 1910.

The book, illustrated by several fascinating photographs, traces the life of Andrew Baird from his birth in Sandhead, a small village on the Rhinns of Galloway, in 1861 to his death in Galashiels 90 years later.

His working life began as a lighthouse keeper on Lismore before he moved to Glasgow to train as a blacksmith, working first at Smith and McLean’s ironworks on the city’s Govan Road before striking out and moving to Bute to start his own business in 1884 - setting out on the road to his aviation dream.

This weekend’s Baird of Bute celebrations begin with the presentation at a civic reception and dinner on Friday of the first Baird of Bute Society Scottish Aviation Award to Scott Grier OBE, the chairman of Loganair.

The action then moves to the Baird Airstrip at Kingarth, where members of the public will be able to get up close and personal with some 20 small aeroplanes from 11am.

From 1.30pm the focus is on Ettrick Bay where there will be a small ceremony at the Baird of Bute memorial, followed by a fly past by the visiting aircraft, a Royal Navy search and rescue demonstration (emergency call-outs permitting) and, from 3pm, an aerial stunt display by two of the pilots visiting Bute for the weekend.