East Lothian flight museum celebrates with airshow

Breathtaking aerobatics from the national display team of Jordan and a rare glimpse of the only wartime bomber of its kind still flying will be among the highlights of Scotland’s National Air Show.

The jet and rocket hangar at the Museum of Flight. Picture: Julie Bull

Bumper crowds are expected to flock to East Fortune on Saturday, July 25 for the annual aerial extravaganza which is boasting its best ever line-up to mark the 40th anniversary of the National Museum of 

The event will include appearances from the world famous Red Arrows, and the RAF’s supersonic Typhoon.

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For the first time at the airshow, all five RAF display teams will be represented alongside displays from aircraft from all eras.

Steve McLean, general manager at the National Museum of Flight said: “The aerial line-up for Scotland’s National Airshow this year is one of the most impressive we’ve ever had.

“From dramatic precision flying displays of the world-famous Red Arrows as our headline and the RAF’s impressive supersonic Typhoon and a number of aircraft making their debut appearances at East Fortune, the skies will be filled with amazing displays.

“Exhilarating entertainment in the sky, coupled with an exciting programme of activities for spectators on the ground, makes this one of the best family days out in Scotland.”

Other aircraft appearing at the airshow for the first time include The Black Cats – the Royal Navy’s two-aircraft helicopter display team – a P3C long-range maritime patrol aircraft from the Royal Norwegian Air Force, and the only 1930s Bristol Blenheim light bomber aircraft still flying anywhere in the world.

Last year, the show attracted more than 13,500 visitors, a record number, but organisers believe it may draw even bigger crowds this year.

“If the enthusiast audience is anything to go by and the comments we have been getting, I think we are going to get even more visitors than last year,” added flight display director Norm Webster.

This year’s show will have a truly international flavour with displays by aircraft from Jordan, America, and Scandinavia.

However, the Norwegian P3C belonged to a squadron formed at RAF Leuchars, which will give its inaugural appearance at the show something of a homecoming feel.

Visitors to the event, from 10am until 5pm, will also see first-time appearances by a 1940s American P-40 Kittyhawk fighter aircraft and a Supermarine Seafire, the naval equivalent of the famous Spitfire fighter.

The RAF Hawk Display Team will make their first appearance at East Fortune.

Other aircraft making a return to East Fortune include a Royal Navy Sea King 
helicopter, the RAF Tutor Display Team and a Bell UK-1 Huey helicopter, a veteran of the Vietnam War.

The RAF Tutor Display Team will perform a solo tutor flight, executing gravity-defying barrel rolls, loops and vertical stalls for the crowds.

The TRIG Aerobatic Team will show off their flying prowess with demonstrations of extreme close-formation flying and crowds will also be entertained by a Swordfish bi-plane and a Folland Gnat fast-jet trainer.

Entertainment on the ground includes a family marquee with circus skills, magic and cheerleading plus the chance to meet a former Concorde pilot.

The RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will feature iconic heritage aircraft the Spitfire and the Hurricane, which will take to the skies above the historic military airfield at East Fortune. Perhaps the most famous aircraft of all time, the Spitfire is considered to be the most successful fighter plane ever made, while airworthy Hurricanes are very rare, with only six surviving in the UK.

East Fortune, a military airfield dating back to the First World War, is home to the National Museum of Flight which will also be open for visitors to explore.

Museum highlights include Scotland’s supersonic Concorde and Fortunes of War, which tells the stories of those who served at East Fortune.

This will be the fifth year that Royal Aircraft Charitable Trust Enterprises, which also organises the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, has run the airshow at East Fortune.

The show’s popularity is such that Mr Webster said it would like to a full day show – or even a weekend show – to make it a “real premier event in the air display calendar”.

He added: “There is a problem with ground space at East Fortune but I can see the event getting slightly bigger.

“We feel that it’s gone from strength to strength and the support from National Museums Scotland has been stunning.

“They are fabulous people to work with. There are difficulties each year with programming but it’s always solved.”

He added his thanks to Edinburgh Airport and Signature Flight Support which have also been assisting with the show.

Meanwhile, work has begun on a £3.6 million project to conserve and restore two nationally significant Second World War hangars at the National Museum of Flight and create new exhibitions within them.

Built in 1940-41, the hangars are part of the East Fortune Airfield Scheduled Monument, and had an original projected lifespan of only a few years.

Opening in 2016, the hangars will feature a world-class collection of aircraft alongside uniforms, documents and photographs.

One hangar will display military aircraft while the other will display smaller commercial and leisure aircraft dating from 1939 onwards.

Tickets for the airshow cost £17 for adults, £15.50 for concessions and £8.50 for children but entry for youngsters under five is free.

A family ticket for two adults and two children costs £42.50.

Early bird tickets offering cheaper rates are available only until Friday.