Gavin receives souvenir of his visit to Wight Aviation Museum

Helen Blake, Paul Carey, Bille Cooper and Gavin Stride

Gavin Stride, executive director of the Island Collection, recently visited the Wight Aviation Museum (WAM) at Sandown Airport.

The visit formed part of his fact-finding activities as he establishes a new organisation, funded by the Arts Council, aiming to encourage talent, nurse ambition and produce a cultural strategy for the Island. He was shown how Island workers made gondolas for airships and built thousands of planes World Wars I and II. The museum’s chairman Helen Blake, also told Gavin about activity between the wars which included building Spartan aircraft – which were in demand worldwide, hovercraft, the largest metal Seaplane ever built and the only British rocket to have successfully launched a satellite.

Gavin was presented with a picture of Pauline Gower and Dorothy Spicer with their Spartan called “Helen of Troy”, one of three Spartans they owned. The plane was built at Somerton Works near Cowes and was used in their Air Tours business. WAM is currently fundraising to return a fully-restored example of a Spartan to the Island.

Helen said: “We discussed the way the Island still builds world-beating aircraft along with high-tech components for many other successful planes.”