A FLYING VISIT
With the Royal Air Force celebrating it's hundredth year the media's attention has been focussed on flying. It is much in the public mind. Military aircraft and the whole history of aviation is well represented at Scotland’s National Museum of Flight. A visit there makes for a good day out. You find it in East Lothian and for any one driving up the A1 it is well worth making a detour and driving just a few miles through beautiful scenery to visit the collection at East Fortune Airfield, It is the UK' best-preserved Second World War airfield.
The latest and largest of the four hangers houses the Concorde, the plane which famously flew faster than the speed of sound and took passengers from London to New York in under four hours. You climb up a high stairway to getr to it and most people, when they enter, are surprised to find out just how narrow the long passenger cabin is. The elegant slim body that cut through the air faster than the speed of sound dictated that there was room for only two seats on either side iof the aisle. These are elegantly covered in dove grey leather. It brought back memories for me. Thirty years ago I was lucky enough to sit on one and sip champagne as I watched the numbers climb on the speed indicator at the front of the cabin.
We listened to a fascinating commentary in which the captain explained that such was the heat generated on the aircrafts body that it expanded by 5 to 12 inches during the flight. (12 to 30 cm)
But if travelling in Concord was fast, at the other end of the scale there was once a more leisurely form of flight. The airship R34 took off from this same airfield back in 1919 when it made the first ever flight from Britain to America. That took over four days. I you fancy flying an airship, there is a family orientated simulator in which children can control one and steer it to the original landing zone. This has been recreated faithfully just as it was at the other side of the airfield.
You can quite easily walk to the various attractions or you can ride on the 17 seat trailer tootles that around to airfield. Popular and very 'hands on' is the area called Fantastic Flight which explains how things fly. There are plenty of knobs and controls that let you pump hot air into a replica of an 18th centaury hot air balloon or land a plane in a flight simulator.
There are other fascinating hangers where you can learn about the shortest scheduled flight in the northern islands, find out how ariel photo reconnaissance has transformed map making and from and elevated platform wonder at just how large the fighter aircraft of the sixties were compared with the iconic and graceful Spitfire of World War Two.
A wonderful range of aircraft zoomed over head at the Scottish National Airshow. It takes place every Summer and this year it is on the 22nd of July but at East Fortune Airfield the attractions are not just in the sky. We took time off from our tour with the campervan, 'The Blue Lady' to visit the unique location and see what else it had to offer.
To get there set your car sat nav to EH39 5LF
Allan Rogers makes