Heritage project gives children the chance to be a First World War pilot

Left to Right: Ben Croxford, Clydebank High School; School of Engineering studen

Left to Right: Ben Croxford, Clydebank High School; School of Engineering student Sharraf Eltelbani and Tony Pollard with Bristol Fighter model.

Ever wondered what it would be like to pilot a test flight.

Or undergo pilot training in a First World War aircraft.

Now school pupils across the West of Scotland will get the chance to do just that.

A new project - Wings to War: Glasgow and the birth of the Royal Air Force - has been awarded Heritage Lottery Funding to give young people the opportunity to learn what it was like to be a WW1 pilot.

The project, is two fold. It will give secondary school students a chance to pilot a virtual WW1 Bristol Fighter, using a state-of-the-art flight simulator built at the University by Professor George Barakos. Professor of Aerospace Sciences.

The flight path to be flown in the simulator was developed by Professor Barakos’s students, and was inspired by a sketch from a First World War pilots’ handbook.

Meanwhile at Pollok Country Park, all schools can sign up to undergo simulated pilot training in a replica and more basic wooden WW1 flight simulator. The Wings to War project will run alongside Digging In First World War learning facilities and trench constructions based in the Glasgow park.

Where Digging In focuses on ground-level (and below-ground) experiences of the Great War, Wings to War takes the aerial view.

The project team will be at the Glasgow Science Centre (GSC) from today to Sunday 2 September to give Glaswegians a sneak preview of this exciting schools project.

They will also take part in the RAF100 Aircraft Tour also being held at Glasgow Science Centre (GSC) from Friday 31 August 2018 to Sunday 2 September.

University of Glasgow staff and students will have on display, a radio controlled model of the Bristol Fighter 2 aircraft that they used to create the simulator programme. The original Bristol Fighter was designed and built by aircraft pioneer and a graduate of the University Frank Branwell.

They will also have a desktop based simulator of the Bristol Fighter to allow members of the public to fly the circuit, which will help the University look at the handling of the model.

Professor George Barakos said: “I love aviation and I wanted to generate enthusiasm about flying amongst our students so we decided to get involved in the Wings to War project.

“At times we forget the dream of flying while we are all too busy studying aerospace engineering. This allows us to marry both the engineering and flying together.”

The Wings to War project is a strategic partnership between the University of Glasgow and Northlight Heritage and aims to broaden pupil’s horizons across a range of subjects including history as well as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Wings to War, which is supported by significant contributions of University of Glasgow staff and student time, aims to make the University’s technological and academic expertise accessible to the wider public and especially schoolchildren.