Teesside International has put its history front and centre as part of its redevelopment, with key items from its past now taking pride of place throughout the terminal.
Aviation historian Geoff Hill has kindly loaned a number of artefacts for the display to mark the airport’s 80th birthday. These detail the history of the airport, which was established in 1941 as a World War Two bomber base before launching commercial passenger flights in April 1964.
The pieces include a special commemorative display dedicated to Andrew Mynarski, the only Canadian air gunner to receive a Victoria Cross. His bravery in trying to rescue his trapped Lancaster bomber crewmate as their plane went down over France in 1944 has never been forgotten and his statue stands proudly on the airport’s grounds.
A brass casting of a Bristol Blenheim aircraft will also be on show, which was created from brass retrieved after a Lancaster of 428 Squadron crashed at Lingfield Farm in Darlington on 13 January 1945. Pilot William McMullen steered the stricken Lancaster away from the town while his crew bailed out, losing his life in the incident.
Other RAF memorabilia will also be on display, including the log book of Wing Commander Guy Gibson who led the legendary Dam Busters raid on three large dams in the Ruhr area of Germany in 1943.
The items will be proudly displayed at various points in the terminal, giving passengers waiting to jet off on the expanded schedule of summer sun and domestic flights the chance to learn about their local airport. The memorabilia is arriving just days after the name for the airport’s new bar was unveiled as The Goosepool, in another nod to its history, with Goosepool being the name of the farm on which the airfield originally sat.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “This generous offer from Geoff has come at the perfect time, when we’re celebrating our airport’s history but also looking to the future with new routes, a complete terminal overhaul and new equipment and systems being installed to make it fit for the 21st century.
“It’s vital that we never forget the massive role our airport played as a bomber base during the Second World War, and the incredible acts of bravery and heroism of everyone located there, as well as the huge sacrifices that many made during that time.
“There are some incredibly fascinating pieces which really bring to life our airport’s stories, so that people from across Teesside can discover the site’s rich heritage as they wait to fly out across the Mediterranean and Black Sea with Balkan, JetsGo and now Ryanair, or take advantage of our domestic connections.”
Geoff said: “I’m really happy to be able to share this history with the public and highlight artefacts relating to some of our most famous historical moments, such as the exceptional courage of Andrew Mynarski, as well as shining a light on some of our lesser-known and more personal stories.
“I’ve brought hundreds of hand-picked pieces to the airport, all of which show different aspects of the airport’s heritage. I hope Teesside International’s passengers get as much enjoyment seeing these items and learning about our past as I do.”