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Edinburgh Airport celebrates 100th birthday

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  • World War One
media captionEdinburgh Airport served 7,000 passengers in its first year as a commercial operation

Centenary celebrations are to be held to mark 100 years since flying began from Edinburgh Airport.

The airport, now Scotland's busiest, started life as the Royal Naval Air Service aerodrome on Thursday 2 March 1916.

Named Turnhouse, it was a key military base during World War One.

The first commercial services were launched in the late 1940s and the new terminal was officially opened to the public by the Queen in 1977.

A series of special events, giveaways and competitions for local school children are planned to celebrate the site's 100th birthday.

image copyrightNational Museum of the Royal Navy
image captionSopwith Camel aircraft at Turnhouse 1919
image copyrightNational Museum of the Royal Navy
image captionRNAS Turnhouse in 1916

In 1947, when it began operating as a civilian airport, just 7,000 people flew from Edinburgh.

The British Airports Authority (BAA) took over ownership in April 1971.

Initial stages of the redevelopment began two years later and the terminal building, designed by Sir Robert Matthew, was opened officially to the public in May 1977.

In 2012, BAA sold it to Global Infrastructure Partners.

Last year, a record 11.1 million passengers passed through the terminal building.

Keith McCloskey, aviation historian, said it used to be called a Cinderella airport in the 1960s because everything "seemed rundown and second hand".

He said: "It's been a long and involved story getting it going as Edinburgh Airport.

"There was two problems, one was the military, they didn't want any civil operators coming in there. They were reluctant to give permission for anybody to use it. The other thing was money.

"Will Darling was the city treasurer for Edinburgh in the late 1930s. He gave a speech, where he said 'did we have any right to ask the rates payers of Edinburgh to pay for something most of them couldn't use?', because flying in those days was for a wealthy few.

"Nobody was really ever willing to pay to develop it as an airport properly until the British Airports Authority arrived in 1971."

Mr McCloskey added that the airport had "quite a distinguished record" in World War Two as well.

The City of Edinburgh Squadron started its 603 Squadron in 1925. The squadron shot down the first Luftwaffe aircraft on British soil.

The Heinkel crash landed near the small village of Humbie and was later dubbed "the Humbie Heinkel".

Turnhouse, which is now called Edinburgh Airport, was also attacked by the Luftwaffe, with bombs dropped on the airfield but causing "no real damage".

image copyrightEdinburgh airport

Chief executive Gordon Dewar said: "How time flies when you're having fun. Today is a landmark date as we set out our plans in the months ahead to celebrate 100 years of air travel at Edinburgh Airport.

"Although clearly focused on delivering future growth at Edinburgh Airport we have a rich and long history here, and we aim to involve as many people as possible in celebrating this great centenary story."

He added: "Our passengers and adults and kids in the local community will be invited to get involved as we offer limited edition giveaways, host competitions and hold a major party to come in the months ahead."

image copyrightRaymond Gore
image copyrightRaymond Gore

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