The Museum Of Flight is located at East Fortune Airfield, East Lothian, Scotland. The museum is part of the National Museums Scotland organisation. The buildings which house the museum were originally part of RAF East Fortune, a military airfield with a long history dating back to the First World War.
Today the museum has an extensive and varied collection of military and civilian aircraft, ranging from Percy Pilcher’s Hawk glider to the supersonic airliner Concorde. The main aircraft collection is housed in four hangars- these are the four large rectangular buildings in the Google satellite view below.
Hangar 1 features military aviation, including Harrier, Tornado F3, Lightning, Phantom and Buccaneer aircraft. Many of the internal systems of the aircraft not usually visible have been removed for display, including engines, radar, ejection seats and weapons.
Hangar 2 features civilian aviation. Highlights include a de Havilland Dragon, a Beech 18, a Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer and a British Aerospace Jetstream 31. This hangar is currently closed for restoration, and will re-open to the public on Good Friday, 25th March 2016.
Hangar 3 features the museum’s restoration projects. Here visitors have the chance to see aircraft at various stages of restoration, including a Bristol Fairchild Bolingbroke, an Avro Anson and a Bristol Beaufighter. This hangar is also closed for restoration, and will re-open to the public on Good Friday, 25th March 2016.
Hangar 4 features the pride of the museum’s collection: Concorde. Also on display is the forward fuselage of a Boeing 707, in BOAC colours. Other highlights include a Jet Age exhibition, and a display of aircraft engines.
The museum also features several large aircraft on display outdoors. These are an Avro Vulcan (with a Blue Steel missile alongside), and two airliners: a De Havilland Comet in Dan Air colours, and a BAC 111 in British Airways colours. You can clearly see these aircraft in the Google satellite view below.
Throughout the year the museum hosts various special events. For 2016, these include:
- Airfield Tours (1 Jan – 20 Mar: Saturdays and Sundays)
- Secret War Half Term (13 Feb – 21 Feb)
- Bird People (25 Mar – 10 Apr)
- Scotland’s National Airshow (23 Jul)
Around The Site
The Google Map below shows a satellite view of the buildings of the museum as they are today. However, there’s much more to the old RAF East Fortune airfield than what you see in this view, so let’s explore.
Use the +/- zoom buttons at the bottom right of the map to zoom out. You’ll eventually see the three runways of the old airfield. As you can see, the site covers a very large area, with the museum only occupying a small part of it. Now scroll the map to navigate to the section of the airfield where the three runways cross. The tree-lined section of runway here is now the site of the East Fortune Sunday Market.
Just to the right (east) of the Sunday Market is the location of the Melville Motorcycle Club. They have adapted part of the runways and some of the old airfield roads to form a motorcycle racing circuit. Now move to the extreme left (west) of the airfield. The area of runway to the left of the B1347 road is the home of East of Scotland Microlights. This is the only part of the old airfield which is still used for flying.
Finally, navigate to the very top (north) of the airfield on the map. The row of buildings at the end of the runway are the remains of East Fortune Hospital. The hospital was originally established between the two world wars, when some of the airfield’s buildings and land were sold. The hospital was moved to another location during World War 2 when the airfield was needed by the Air Ministry. After the war, it was re-established at East Fortune, and remained open until 1997.