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Ayrshire's Aviation Industry

One of Prestwick's Twin Pioneers.
Despite its bucolic charm of hedge-rowed fields of cows, rolling hills, and the distant bleat of sheep, Ayrshire has also had a long an interesting industrial history. At one time it was even home to its own aviation company.

Scottish Aviation Ltd., based at Prestwick, operated from 1935 to 1977, when it was merged into British Aerospace. During its time as an independent company, it built several types of aircraft, most notably the single-engine Pioneer and the twin-engine Twin Pioneer, both of which originated with the company. Scottish Aviation also produced the Bulldog (originally developed by Beagle Aircraft Ltd.) and the Jetsteam (originally developed by Handley Page Ltd.).

The Pioneers were short runway take-off planes and were extensively used in the war against the Communists in Malaya in the 1950s to transport troops and evacuate wounded. They were also sold to a several overseas air forces and some Twin Pioneers were even by civilian airlines, including one, operated by Malaysia-Singapore Airlines, which crashed on take off at Limbang Airport on 17 May 1967.

Altogether a total of 1,243 complete aircraft were built at Prestwick until aircraft production ended in 1998. Today the factory at Prestwick produces components for Airbus and Boeing aircraft, having been sold to Spirit AeroSystems in January 2006.

The factory as it looks today.


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