Fun Takes Off at East Fortune
By Liam Rudden
THUNDERING from the clouds, the roar of their engines ensuring every head below is turned skyward, some of the most spectacular civil and military aircraft in the history of aviation will fly- past East Fortune Airfield a week tomorrow, providing the highlight of the Museum of Flight’s 2008 Airshow.
Between 10,000-15,000 spectators are expected to attend the aeronautical celebration which, for Amanda Jopling, general manager at the National Museum of Flight, will be the culmination of a year’s work.
“There’s a massive amount of organisation that goes on behind the scenes and that’s over and above sourcing the actual aircraft that appear on the day. It’s a massive operation involving many different groups of people who work exceptionally hard to provide an amazing event for the public,” she says.
The 2008 event will be the third Jopling has overseen at the East Lothian airfield. This year, there will be a theme running through the day.
“We’ve tried to include a number of aircraft such as the Vampire, Sea Hawk and Spitfire that we have within our own collections, so that people can see them up close on the ground, as well as watching them in the air. We are also using a number of aircraft that are owned by private individuals in East Lothian so that we maintain our local links.”
The three-and-a-half-hour fly-past is programmed by air display management specialists TSA Consulting Ltd, who are commissioned to put together “a varied programme of flight” that “won’t break the bank”. It’s not just commercial carriers that have been hit by the soaring cost of aviation fuel. “We aim to break even each year, so there’s a lot of careful financial management. This has been particularly tricky this year due to the rise in fuel costs, but we’ve been very lucky to secure support from a major fuel supplier which is a great help,” adds Jopling.
Subject to weather, serviceability and operational commitments – well these are vintage flying machines – the aircraft stacking up over the Firth of Forth awaiting their moment of glory this year will include historic and modern names such as the Hawker Hunter, Mustang, Sea Hawk, Spitfire, de Havilland Tiger Moth, Swift Glider and Eurofighter Typhoon.
Jopling has no hesitation in naming the aircraft she is most looking forward to seeing again. “The Eurofighter Typhoon blows me away,” she says excitedly. “The sound of the roaring engines, the glow of the afterburners and the agility are incredible. Last year, I also saw the Swift Glider in action and it was awesome. It has a huge wing-span, fabulous smoke trails and even with no engine, seems able to perform magic in the air.”
Adding to the airborne thrills will be the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, The Blades display team and the death-defying Team Guinot Wingwalkers.
On the day, all will come under the control of Flying Display Director Ray Thilthorpe, an ex-Red Arrow known to his squadron as Harry the Pilot, who will ensure that all the aircraft arrive and depart on time.
“If you think of it like a music concert I’m the conductor,” says Thilthorpe, who was an RAF man for 27 years before joining the Red Arrows.
“There is a timeline of sorts running through the display this year. We have a Tiger Moth from before the war, it was in that plane that a lot of pilots cut their teeth. Then we go on to the Second World War with the Mustang, the Catalina and the Spitfire. Then there are the jets; the Vampire from the 1950/60s and the Hunter in the 1960/70s, and, of course, there is also the Sea Hawk, a Royal Navy veteran.
Thilthorpe founded what has evolved into TSA Consulting Ltd in 1986, and now also organises the Red Bull Air Race Series.
“Our job at East Fortune is to procure and co-ordinate the aeroplanes and then take real-time control of the show. If one of the aircraft couldn’t get past the Teviot Hills because it was coming from the south and there was cloud on the hill, for example, we would get a message to say that he is going to be 20 minutes. So I then have to get in touch with one of the planes and slide them forward in the schedule.”
Back on the ground, the Phoenix Falconry team will be on hand with their own air display of birds of prey including a great American bald eagle, falcons, hawks, kestrels and owls.
More down to earth, the MAD mountain bike display team will demonstrate some of the exhilarating stunts that have taken them over the world, while the RAF host an activity and display area.
National Museum of Flight 2008 Airshow, East Fortune Airfield, July 26, 10am-5pm, GBP 17 , family ticket GBP 45, prices do not include Concorde boarding pass, parking GBP 4. To book at discount visit www.nms.ac.uk/airshow or call 0870-421 4299
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight
Scottish Aviation Bulldog
Beechcraft King Air
Sea King Demo
Supermarine Spitfire T.IX
Team Guinot Wingwalkers
de Havilland Tiger Moth
GROB 115E Tutor
de Havilland Vampire
*Subject to change
Airshow 2008: in the air
Eurofighter Typhoon F2: One of the stars of this year’s show is the Eurofighter Typhoon. Big and noisy, this awesome plane has a wing-span of 35ft 11 and can reach speeds of 1319mph.
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight: This year marks the 90th anniversary of the RAF and one of the force’s most famous battles will be commemorated by an appearance by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. This flying memorial comprises Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane aircraft.
Team Guinot Wing Walkers: Appearing again at this year’s Airshow are Team Guinot, the world’s only formation wing walking team. Watch as they showcase a daring new move, leaving the safety of their static harness to sit on the leading edge of the top wing, directly above the propellers of their vintage American Boeing Stearman biplanes.
The Blades: The Blades describe themselves as an “adrenaline- charged precision formation display team” and their performances of synchronised gyroscopic manoeuvres and precision formation aerobatics are thrilling.
Catalina: One of the key flying boats of the Second World War, this aircraft has a range of 2500 miles. Britain had more than 650 Cats, but the version flying in next weekend’s Airshow is a Canadian version of the Catalina known as the Canso A.
Airshow 2008: on the ground
1940 Tiger Moth biplane: This plane was once owned by comedian Dick Emery who reputedly gate-crashed a wedding in it wearing a three-piece suit under his flying overalls.
Spitfire and Messerschmitt Komet: The Komet’s wheels were designed to drop off after take-off and it used to glide into landing on a retractable skid. It was the fastest aircraft of the World War II.
1966 Piper Commanche: Called Myth Too this aircraft held more than 90 world class, light aviation records.
Avro Vulcan Bomber: One of only two Vulcans to be used in anger. It was at the centre of an international incident when it had to make an emergency landing at Rio de Janeiro airport in Brazil during the Falklands War.
MiG 15: The Warsaw Pact’s standard fighter aircraft and the USSR’s first operational swept-wing fighter.
Harrier Jumpjet: The museum houses the oldest Harrier in existence. The Harrier was the world’s first and most successful vertical take-off and landing jet to enter service.
McDonnell Douglas Phantom II: Possibly the greatest post-war multi-role fighter. The museum’s aircraft spent most of its career in the US Navy before being retired in 1983.
Concorde: Celebrity passengers on the Concorde fleet included Sir Elton John, Robbie Williams and Victoria Beckham. A limited number of Concorde boarding passes will be for sale on the day of the Airshow.
Win tickets to take to the sky
TO CELEBRATE this year’s Airshow on July 26, The Guide has joined forces with the National Museum of Flight to offer you the chance to win one of four fantastic prize packages.
PRIZE PACKAGE ONE – BIPLANE BONANZA
Two lucky readers will get the chance to fly in a fantastic Boeing Stearman biplane on the morning of the Airshow. Operated by Team Guinot, the world’s only formation wing-walking group, the biplanes will perform some formation aerobatics with our winners on board as part of their own private display at Archerfield airfield, near East Fortune. Please note that entrants must be over 18, and have a basic level of fitness.
PRIZE PACKAGE TWO – THE FABULOUS
Two further lucky winners and a guest will have the chance to experience a unique flight in a PBY Catalina sea plane. Taking off from Edinburgh airport on the morning of the show, our winners will see at first hand one of the key flying boats of the Second World War before it heads to East Fortune to participate in the Airshow.
Each lucky winner will also receive a family ticket to this year’s Airshow.
To enter the draw to win, simply e-mail your name, age and telephone number to theguide@ edinburghnews.com. Please indicate which competition prize you would like to win by entering either BIPLANE or BOAT in the subject line. Entries to be received by noon on Monday.
Terms and Conditions: Both prizes are available on July 26 only and are subject to weather and serviceability. No alternative prize is offered. Transport to and from the Archerfield Airfield and Edinburgh Airport is not included. Winners of the biplane flights will be required to sign a disclaimer and declaration of fitness. All winners must confirm that they fully understand that there are risks and dangers involved with display flying and flying in general and fully accept these without reservation.
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