Treasure Trove


FlyPast editor Chris Clifford visits a prolific aviation artefact hunter, whose collection is arguably one of the most impressive in private hands


Ian Wilson ‘at home’ among his extensive array of aviation collectables. The wooden base for the Lightning P.1A model he holds bears a brass plaque that was fitted to the real prototype aircraft, when flown for the first time by test pilot Roland Beamont.

Walking into Ian Wilson’s personal display of aircraftrelated memorabilia is like stepping back in time. The rented space in Dipton, Co Durham, in which Ian keeps his exhibits, holds a staggering array of items, each with its own fascinating story. It’s spread across several first-floor rooms in a former music and promo-video recording studio, graced in the past by bands as famous as Coldplay, and holds truly diverse finds; flying boots and helmets, flags, brooches, models, reconnaissance cameras, squadron alarm bells, propellers, signed prints and photographs all feature among the displays. The very particular odours exuded by metal, wood, paper and leather enliven the senses on entry, and then the vastness of what’s absorbed visually truly hits home.

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