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Blair Atholl Secret Trials

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Blair Atholl, and the grounds of Blair Atholl estate were the site of secret trials in the early 1900s. Blair Atholl is village in highland Perth and Kinross, and lies at the junction of the Tilt and Garry rivers, 34 miles (55 km) north of the city of Perth.

JW Dunne was an early English pioneer of aviation, and a designer of tail-less aircraft. Unlike other designs of the time, Dunne's aircraft was said to be particularly stable, credit for this being given to the design being based on observations of gliding in nature.

Dunne was assigned to the Army Balloon Factory, South Farnbrough, and was able to attract the support of the army in the period 1905-1908, when testing of his designs was carried out in secrecy in the Grounds of the Blair Atholl Estate. His early glider designs were tested in Glen Tilt, to the north, while his later powered versions were tested closer to Blair Atholl. The army decided the design was of limited potential, and Dunne formed his own company, the Blair Atholl Syndicate Ltd, to continue development, but continuing ill health forced him into retirement by 1913. This was not the end of the aircraft though. A biplane was supplied to the Nieuport Company of the United States, where W Starling Burgess obtained the manufacturing rights, producing a number of derivative designs. As with Dunne's development at Blair Atholl, Burgess was unable to attract military interest during World War I, the design was deemed to be too stable. A fire at the Burgess factory in 1918 ended production of the aircraft.

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