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Northern Ireland receives its first Engineering Heritage Award

08 October 2012

The first British vertical take-off aircraft, the Short SC1 that was built in Belfast in 1960, has been awarded an Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Engineering Heritage Award.

The aircraft, currently on display at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum at Cultra, was recognised as being the first British fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing aircraft. The award was presented by Professor Isobel Pollock, president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers to Dr Jim McGreevy, Director of Collections & Interpretation for National Museums Northern Ireland, at a celebratory event on Thursday (October 4).

Professor Pollock said: “Coming from Northern Ireland, I am particularly delighted to present this award – as this is the first ever Engineering Heritage Award for Northern Ireland. Engineering Heritage Awards recognise great engineering achievements, with previous winners including Tower Bridge, the E-Type Jaguar and the Falkirk Wheel. The SC1 is an equally worthy recipient and a truly magnificent example of engineering which was integral to the research and development of vertical take-off and landing technology.”

The Short SC1 was built purely as a research vehicle by aerospace company Short Brothers following a request from the armed forces who wanted to develop aircraft that were able to take-off and land from unprepared sites or small pads without the use of runways.

The SC1 provided the first British transition from vertical to horizontal flight and back again on 6 April 1960 and crossed the English Channel in May 1961. The results of the SC1 research programme were made available to other aerospace companies which enabled the UK to establish a world lead in the development of vertical take-off and landing technology.

This will be the 76th Engineering Heritage Award to be presented by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. The awards, established in 1984, aim to promote artefacts, sites or landmarks of significant engineering importance – past and present.

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