7 aerial pictures of 1920s Scotland that will take your breath away

An aerial view of Edinburgh, about 1920 taken by Alfred Buckham.
An aerial view of Edinburgh, about 1920 taken by Alfred Buckham.
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He was a pilot who survived nine plane crashes, taking to the sky against doctors’ orders, standing up in an open cockpit with his leg tied to the seat as he captured some of the world’s earliest aerial images of Scotland.

Alfred Buckham, born in 1879, was one of the 19th century’s great daredevils, so passionate about his photography that he risked life and limb to capture the images.

Brought up in the Isle of Wight, he originally wanted to be a painter but, after visiting an exhibition of Turner’s paintings at the National Gallery, threw his own work on a bonfire and reconsidered his choice of career.

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During the First World War, Buckham became the first head of aerial reconnaissance for the Royal Naval Air Service, at a time when RNAS crew had just a one in five chance of surviving their first trip – and a one in 30 chance of surviving their second.

Buckham survived his first eight wartime crashes relatively unscathed, but when his plane crashed for a ninth time near Rosyth in 1918, doctors removed his voicebox and he had to breathe for the rest of his life through a small tube in his neck.

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Despite the accident, he clearly retained a passion for the area, capturing one of the first aerial images of Edinburgh in 1920, and also photographing the Forth Bridge from the air.

Thanks to National Galleries Scotland we can relive some of his remarkable flights through these pictures.