National Museum of Flight
Scotland`s National Airshow 2016
The National Museum of Flight, just south of the village of East Fortune in East Lothian, is Scotland's national aviation museum. It`s housed in the original wartime buildings of RAF East Fortune which is one of the best preserved wartime airfields in the UK.
The first aircraft in the collection, Percy Pilcher's Hawk glider, was acquired by the Royal Scottish Museum 1909 and it was eventually joined by other early flying machines and aero engines .
In 1971 the museum was given a Supermarine Spitfire XVI by the Ministry of Defence and with no room available in Edinburgh, it was placed into storage at East Fortune. RNAS Lossiemouth donated a Hawker Sea Hawk, de Havilland Sea Vampire and a de Havilland Sea Venom, following which the decision was made to establish a Museum of Flight. The public were admitted for the first time in July 1975.
The East Fortune museum expanded significantly in 1981 as a result of the sale by auction of much of the Strathallan Collection. Five aircraft, namely a Bristol Bolingbroke, de Havilland Dragon, de Havilland Puss Moth, General Aircraft Cygnet and Percival Provost, were all purchased.
Now, the highlight for many is seeing the iconic supersonic passenger jet Concorde, G-BOAA, one of only twenty built. Visitors can marvel at this superb feat of engineering and inspect the aircraft at close quarters, inside and out. There are numerous Concorde related exhibits and displays in addition to a film presentation about her epic final journey to her new home.
British Airways retired their Concorde fleet in October 2003 and, following a successful campaign to have one of the magnificent aircraft preserved and displayed in Scotland, G-BOAA was dismantled and transported by road from Heathrow to the Thames port of Isleworth. The 110-ton plane was then loaded onto the Terra Mariquea, a specialist barge, which sailed up the east coast to arrive at Torness, East Lothian, a week later. Concorde, once back on terra firma, made the final leg of her journey to East Fortune airfield where she was greeted by a huge crowd and two pipers!
The Museum`s exhibits will appear on a dedicated page (Link to follow) but meantime here is a selection of shots taken at 2016`s Airshow which was held on Saturday 23 July...
In the final 15 minutes before the gates opened, the crowd were entertained by the Haddington Pipe Band blasting out various well known Scottish favourites including `Highland Cathedral`, `Scotland the Brave`, `The Battle of the Somme`, and of course `Cock o` The North`, better known as `Auntie Mary had a Canary!`
Cheerleaders welcoming visitors and, above right, it`s good to see that the kids have bought their parents a couple of toy planes to stop them moaning!
Avro Vulcan B.2 Serial No XM597 is one the veterans of `Operation Black Buck` which took place during the Falklands War (April 2, 1982 – June 14, 1982). This actual aircraft carried out two missions during the conflict, one of which set the record for the longest mission flown in the history of air warfare. The record stood until a USAF B-52 Stratofortress made a longer flight during the first Gulf War.
I soon discovered that it was a waste of time attempting to photograph any of the indoor museum exhibits due to the amount of people piling in. This Bolingbroke an IV-T serial number 9940, which dates from 1942, has been recently restored. It was used to train air gunners and is painted in the yellow training colour scheme. It flew as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan during the Second World War in which more than 230,000 men took part. The Bolingbroke was the name given to the Bristol Blenheim light bomber built under licence in Canada.
The military reenactors and their authentic vehicles which were crammed with original weapons and equipment proved very popular with visitors.
The De Havilland Comet was the world`s first commercial jet airliner, and the museum`s example is a Comet 4C registration number G-BDIX, displayed in the colours of Dan Air London. The prototype first flew in 1949 and was a landmark in aeronautical design. Despite problems with metal fatigue early in its career these were addressed and the redesigned Comet 4 subsequently enjoyed a long and productive career of over 30 years. Military versions flew with the RAF and Royal Canadian Air Force. The Hawker Siddeley Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft evolved from the Comet.
This ex-EOD Landrover and trailer were packed with a variety of weapons, bullets and shells and other military equipment including uniforms, anti-tank mines, rocket launchers and a military grade Geiger-counter. A British Army mine-detector is pictured, bottom right.
The Blackburn (later Hawker Siddeley) Buccaneer was developed as a low-level strike aircraft capable of delivering nuclear weapons. The Buccaneers` career spanned from 1962 until 1994 with carrier-borne versions for the Royal Navy and land base variants for the RAF. A number of Buccaneers saw action in the 1991 Gulf War. This particular aircraft, serial number XT288, served with both the Fleet Air Arm and RAF. It`s flying career ended when it sustained wing damage during a ground incident after which it became an instructional airframe for weapons handling.
Avro Vulcan XM597 was acquired by the Scottish Museum of Flight when 50 Squadron RAF disbanded on 31 March 1984 and made its last flight into its new home at East Fortune in April of that year. Two missiles painted on the nose record the missions flown during the Falklands War. Also forever linked with the Falklands War is the Harrier, a cockpit section from one iconic `Jump Jet` proving popular with kids of all ages.
Visitors were able to view progress on the Aircraft Preservation Society of Scotland`s First World War Sopwith Strutter project. The 1½ Strutter, so named because of the unusual arrangement of its central mainplane bracing struts, was designed in 1915 as a high performance combat aircraft. It was ordered in large numbers for both the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) and it was widely used by the French, Belgian and United States air forces. France actually went on to produce more of these aircraft than Great Britain.
The Radar / Radio Room, complete with a resident Blue Macaw, was next door to the workshop.
The Red Arrows
The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows opened the show, having flown up from Newcastle Airport. They were also appearing at the Sunderland International Airshow which took place on the same weekend, both Saturday and Sunday, as were some of the other aircraft displaying at East Fortune. For 2016, the Red Arrows` 51st year, the team are led by Red 1, Squadron Leader David Montenegro, an ex-Tornado F.3 pilot. Based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, the team had completed 4,660 displays in 56 countries prior to the start of this year`s programme. For the two Scots in the team, Flight Lieutenants Stew Campbell from Peebles in the Scottish Borders and Joe Houston, from Inverness, 2016 is their last season.
The Black Cats
The Black Cats Helicopter Display Team first appeared in 2001 and features a pair of Royal Navy Westland AW159 Wildcat helicopters, each crewed by two personnel from 825 NAS based at Yeovilton in Somerset. The Wildcat is an upgraded version of the Westland Lynx and it primarily operates from the rear deck of RN Frigates and Destroyers, performing an anti-submarine role.
This Fairey Swordfish MK.1 W5856 was built by Blackburn Aircraft at Sherburn in Elmet and first flew on 21 October 1941, which was coincidentally Trafalgar Day, She served with the Mediterranean Fleet for a year, after which she returned to Fairey`s Stockport factory for refurbishment. A period in the trials and advanced training role followed then the `Stringbag` was shipped to Canada where it was again used as a trainer. At the end of hostilities, it was placed in storage and later sold to a civilian operator. It was eventually acquired by Sir William Roberts who brought it to Scotland where it formed part of his Strathallan Aircraft Collection which closed in August 1980. W5856 was later bought by British Aerospace who presented it to the Swordfish Heritage Trust and it was painstakingly restored to flying condition, taking to the skies again in 1993. Currently operated by the Royal Navy Historic Flight, the aircraft is painted in the pre-war colours of 810 Squadron, embarked on HMS Ark Royal.
Despite having more in common with aircraft of the Great War, the Swordfish achieved some spectacular successes during World War 2, notably in sinking one Italian Navy battleship and damaging two others in the Battle of Taranto, and the famous crippling of the Bismarck that contributed to her eventual demise. On 25 May 1941, nine Swordfish from HMS Victorious attacked Bismarck, scoring one torpedo hit but causing only minor damage. On 26 May, Ark Royal launched two Swordfish strikes against Bismarck. The first failed to find the German battleship but aircraft carrying out the second strike scored two hits, one of which jammed Bismarck's rudders which drastically reduced her ability to manoeuvre. She sank after intense attack by Royal Navy surface ships within 13 hours. The low speed of the Swordfish acted in their favour, as the planes were too slow for the fire-control predictors of the German gunners, whose shells exploded so far in front of the aircraft that the threat of shrapnel damage was greatly diminished. At least some of the Swordfish flew so low that most of Bismarck's flak weapons could not depress enough to hit them.
This aircraft, which now flies under the civilian registration G-SOAF, is one of 146 BAC 167 Strikemasters built, the first of which first flew in 1967. The Strikemaster is light attack / counter insurgency variant of Jet provost T MK.5 trainer with a more powerful engine, wing-mounted weapon hardpoints, a strengthened airframe, improved communications and navigation equipment and shorter landing gear. The type was exported to Saudi Arabia, South Yemen, Oman, Kuwait, Singapore, Kenya, New Zealand, Ecuador and Sudan.
Flown by ex-RAF F-4 Phantom and Tornado pilot Mark Petrie on behalf of North Wales Military Aviation Services Ltd, G-SOAF is painted as Mk-82A Strikemaster No.425 of the Sultan of Oman Air Force. It served from 1986 until decommissioning in 1999 when it became an instructional airframe and was acquired by NWMAS Ltd in 2004. Strikemasters were deployed by the Royal Air Force of Oman on several occasions during the Dhofar Rebellion, including a notable appearance providing Close Air Support during the Battle of Mirbat. Three Strikemasters were shot down over the course of the war, including one lost to an SA-7 missile.
Hughes OH-6A Cayuse and Bell UH-1H Iroquois: A Couple of Genuine Vietnam Vets
Displaying individually at the event were a couple of helicopters which actually served during the Vietnam War: UH-1H 69-16011 (G-UHIH) and OH-6A 69-1601. Both are operated by Preston-based MSS Holdings Ltd, better known as The Huey Team: www.huey.co.uk.
First to take to the air was the smaller of the two, the OH-6A or Loach, the nickname being derived from the machine`s designation as a Light Observation And Combat Helicopter.
It was designed to meet the US Army`s requirement for a lightweight, highly manoeuvrable military scout. It was nippy too, with a cruising speed of 150 mph.
This Loach was manufactured in 1969 and was shipped directly to Vietnam where it served with the 20th Transport Company. On 17th August 1970, 69-1601 was on a recon mission when it came under fire and took 11 hits from small arms and automatic weapons.
The majority of these hits were on the underside of the aircraft causing damage to the fuel system and some aircraft components. Luckily the armour plating proved effective in protecting the flight crew and out of the three personnel on board, only one was wounded in action. The pilot made a forced landing and following inspection, the chopper was deemed un-flyable and eventually transported back to the USA. After the helicopter was repaired at the Hughes Tool Company it was returned to Fort Worth and mainly served with the National Guard in the years that followed. In August 1992, it was one of 13 machines selected for reallocation to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) under a special program to provide assets to Federal law enforcement agencies to combat the flow of illegal narcotics into the United Sates. Following its retirement in 2004, Loach 69-1601 was purchased by a helicopter dealer in the USA and put into storage until acquired by Phil Connolly and transported to the UK for restoration to flying condition.
UH-1H 69-16011 (G-UHIH). This particluar aircraft was manufactured by the Bell Helicopter Company in 1972, purchased by the US Army that year, and immediately shipped to Vietnam. In July 1972, it joined the 129 Assault Helicopter Company and went on to make 108 flights totalling 559 combat hours before it was returned to the US in February 1973. It then served in the National Guard and various support units unit 2000 when it was placed in storage. Now based in the UK. this is the only flying Huey in Europe with a Vietnam History.
The Eurofighter is the result of international cooperation, having been built jointly by Britain, Germany and Italy with the UK`s Typhoon variant entering service with the RAF in 2007. They have since been used in various operations around the world and also form the Quick Reaction Force (QRA) which defends UK airspace, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Typhoon`s performance is said to match any other present-day aircraft with fly-by-wire control systems and the ability to maintain supersonic flight without the use of reheat. It has an astonishing rate of climb with the ability to reach 314metres (1,030ft) per second, a top speed of Mach 2 at altitude, and a service ceiling of almost 20,000 metres (65,000ft).
The current Royal Air Force Display Team pilot is Flight Lieutenant Mark Long who has the distinction of being the last RAF Harrier pilot qualified to conduct operations off an aircraft carrier. He certainly thrilled the crowd as he put Typhoon FGR.4 ZK353 (BY) through its paces in the overcast skies above East Fortune.
This Typhoon belonging to a young girl in the crowd also put on an impressive, but slower paced display.
Bücker Bü 131 "Jungmann"
The prototype Bücker Bü 131 Jungmann (Young Man) made its maiden flight in 1934, and seeing its potential, the recently formed Luftwaffe adopted the type as a training aircraft. Jungmanns were also built under licence in Switzerland, Hungary, Spain and Czechoslovakia as well as Japan. Surprisingly, the Japanese actually built the greatest number of Jungmanns outside Germany with over 1,000 rolling off the production lines up to 1943. No less than 23 countries used this type as a primary trainer and this particular example was recovered from storage in Stuttgart, Germany, in 2010. The then owner had purchased the aircraft from the Spanish Air Force in 1970 with whom it last flew in 1968.
The aircraft, which is now on the British register as G-CGTX, is actually a Spanish-built CASA 131-2000 which bore the Spanish Air Force serial 559G. It was completely rebuilt at Archerfield, East Lothian and during this process the signature of the engineer who worked on the aircraft in 1941 was discovered inside one of the lower wings. It is now flown by Gavin Hunter.
Although the Stolp Starduster has the appearance of a classic biplane from the 1930s or `40s, it was designed in the 1960s. Many features from the earlier aircraft were incorporated in the design which uses modern materials and ideas including an inverted fuel and oil system which keeps maximum power flowing while the plane is performing upside down. A separate system produces the smoke. The pilot, Jim McTaggart, was educated in Glasgow and learned to fly at the Glasgow Flying Club in the 1970s. Since then he has flown at various locations across the globe, including within the USA and Saudi Arabia. When he`s not display flying in the Starduster, Yak 52 or Chipmunk, he delivers night mail across Europe in a Fokker F27.
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight were represented by Hurricane MK.IIc PZ865 and Spitfire MK.VB AB910. It was announced early in the day that Lancaster PA474 would be making an unscheduled and very welcome visit to the airshow, but a couple of hours later the crowd learned that it had `went tech` at Newcastle Airport and was unable to attend. The P-51 Mustang and Percival Pembroke listed on the programme also cancelled.
Spitfire AB910 flew 143 operational missions during the Second World War, flying convoy protection patrols, escorting daylight bombing raids and supporting the ill-fated Dieppe Raid and the D-Day landings while PZ865 is one of just a dozen or so airworthy Hurricanes worldwide, six of which are in the UK. It was the last Hurricane ever built (of 14,533), rolling off the Hawker production line at Langley, Bucks, in July 1944. Keen to preserve this iconic aircraft, Hawkers purchased it back from the Air Ministry and kept it in storage. In 1950, PZ865 was entered in the King’s Cup Air Race by HRH Princess Margaret when it was flown by Group Captain Peter Townsend CVO DSO DFC and achieved second place. Having been modified, ‘PZ’ participated in several other air races over the next few years, but was returned to its wartime camouflage scheme in the 1960s and made numerous display appearances. It also appeared in the film ‘Battle of Britain’. In March 1972, after a complete overhaul, PZ865 was flown to Coltishall and presented by Hawker Siddeley to the BBMF.
Red Bull Matadors
Since 2012, the Matadors display team have performed in a pair of German-registered XtremeAir XA-41 Sbach 300s, (D-EVXA and D-EYXA are seen here) but originally flew Russian-built Sukhoi Su-26M aerobatic aircraft. They started out as the Sukhioi Duo, but when competing in various aerobatic competitions including the FAI World Grand Prix and repeatedly going head-to-head with the Flying Bulls team, they decided to change their name to The Matadors. The teams best-known stunt was when they flew in formation through an open hangar at llanbedr airfield in North Wales. The planes, travelling at a speed of 185 mph, were only 1 metre off the ground!
Pitts S2S Special
The original Pitts was designed by Curtis Pitts and first flew in 1945. The type is still in production but G-EWIZ is a Pitts S2S, one of only 30 aircraft ever built. Unlike the majority of `Specials` which were assembled for purchase, this was a home-built variant from a factory kit. Putting the aircraft through its paces here was champion aerobatic display pilot Rich Goodwin who previously served in the RAF on Tornado GR.1s and saw action during the first Gulf War.
Norwegian Historic Flight
The Royal Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron had a trio of Cold War era jets in the flying display, the first being a pair of de Havilland Vampires. Although the prototype first flew in September 1943, the first production aircraft did not enter service with the RAF until early 1946, just months after the conflict ended.
The two Vampires bear the markings of No.336 Squadron, RNoAF, which was Norway`s first pure jet fighter squadron. One aircraft is a Vampire FB.52 fighter-bomber while the other is a T.55 two-seat trainer. Both aircraft were built under licence in Switzerland and operated by the Swiss Air Force from the 1950s until 1990.
Representing Soviet / Warsaw Pact opposition was a SB Lim-2, a Polish-built version of the Russian MiG-15UTI two-seat trainer. The aircraft has been painted as `Red 18` to represent cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin`s Mig-15 when he was a fighter pilot stationed close to the Norwegian border before he trained for space flight. He became the first human to journey into space in 1961.
The NMF has a Czechoslovakian version of this type, an AeroS-103, in its collection. It`s on display within the Military Aviation hangar.
This aircraft is kept at Duxford, England, and owned by Catalina Aircraft Limited. Although in the colours of PBY-5 Catalina 43-3915, it`s actually a Canadian Vickers Ltd version of the iconic flying boat, with the true designation being PBV-1A. In addition to the military serial, it`s on the UK Civil register as G-PBYA. The original 44-33915 was built by Canadian Vickers at Cartierville, Quebec, and eventually found its way to the United Kingdom where, in early 1945, it joined the 5th Emergency Rescue Squadron (ERS), 8th Air Force, at Halesworth, Suffolk.
Swiss PC-7 Team
The Swiss PC-7 Aerobatic Team rounded up the show. Formed in 1987, the Pilatus Turbo Trainer was the team`s original mount, but the NCPC-7 has been used since October 2008. All pilots in the team, which is based at Dubendorf Air Base near Zurich, are full-time military pilots and usually fly the F/A-18 Hornet.