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Preston Watson


1880 - 1915

Pioneer of flight. Born in Dundee, the son of a merchant, Watson joined his father's firm Watson & Philip. However, his passion was flying and he experimented with gliders in the Carse of Gowrie, near Errol. He used heavy weights, suspended over the limb of a tree, to propel his glider across a field. While erroneously regarded by some to have achieved powered flight before the Wright brothers, it is possible that he managed this feat before 1905 becoming the first Briton to do so. However, it is more likely that he did not achieve success until 1909, which makes it difficult to determine whether he or the Barnwell brothers made the first powered flight in Scotland. Watson certainly patented his designs in 1909.

He joined the Royal Naval Air Service and went to flying school at Hendon in 1915, but was killed shortly afterwards when his aeroplane disintegrated in flight. A street within a new housing development in Errol was named in his honour in 2008.


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