In the early morning of 9 April 1940 Germany occupied Denmark and invaded Norway. The evening before, German bombers had launched their biggest attack so far that spring on the British fleet in Scapa Flow. On the night of 10 April around 60 aircraft came back, to face a barrage of anti-aircraft fire. What was happening in the air that spring? How close was it? Has its significance been fully recognised? Four aviation historians discuss – Commander David Hobbs, Ian Hutchison, Anthony J. Cumming and Paul Beaver.
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Robert Foden tells the story of the first flight across the North Sea, made by the Norwegian Tryggve Gran in 1914, from Cruden Bay to Stavanger in a Bleriot monoplane. To take off he had to clear the electric tram wires over a grassy take-off slope. On the way across the North Sea a fuel cut-out caused his engine to stall and the propellers only started up on the second tank when he was 15 feet above the sea. Amidst the rocky landscape near Stavanger he at last found a field, to surprise a farmer who had never seen a plane before.
"The art of engineering,” says Prof. Dougal Cameron, “is the greatest of all the arts of mankind in that it uses science and art in the creation of useful objects and does so in the service of humankind in all of its aspects." He himself specialised in industrial design and became in 1970 the Head of Industrial Design at Glasgow School of Art, where he was involved in the design of the first obstetric ultrasound scanners. He has written many books on Scottish aviation history as well as on his other passion – steam engines.