Often overshadowed by the more illustrious airshow at RAF Leuchars, East Fortune is Scotland's second major airshow. East Fortune is home of the National Museum of Scotland's "Museum of Flight" which contains many important exhibits including one of the former British Airways Concordes. The airfield however it no longer available for use by most aircraft since development into a racing circuit which means the fixed wing acts all fly-in from surrounding airfields at Edinburgh, Newcastle, Durham Tees and Archerfield. 2008's show providing a wide mix of different aircraft despite the best efforts of the british cilmate to prevent any flying taking place. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. All photography copyright of the Author.
The last weekend of July saw forecasts of promising weather across the UK with blue skies and warm temperatures. However, the weather had an all too detrimental effect on the North-east coasts of the UK which affected not only East Fortune but also Sunderland to the south with a Sea Fret affecting much of the coastal regions. This caused the eventual abondonment of all flying displays at Sunderland, but East Fortune just managed to get a fullish flying display in under low cloud bases and very poor visibility.
East Fortune show itself is a typical "family" style airshow with a wide variety of participants from both the military and civilian worlds. The started in quite a dijointed way with some of the partipants uinable to complete a transit to the site due to the low cloud and visibility. The first aircraft to make it in from Edinburgh airport was P-51D Mustang Jumpin' Jaques in the hands of it's owner Peter Teichman. Peter was the first aircraft to make the transit from Edinburgh and put on a spectucular flat display.
The BBMF was one of the early casulties of the weather but the scottish crowds at least got to see one Spitfire in the form of Anthony Hodgeson's Spitfire IXT which he keeps on his private farm strip in North Wales. Also making it through the murk was Plane Sailing's PBY-5A Catalina which was the largest aircraft to take part in the afternoon's flying.
Lighter histroical aircraft were also in evidence. The popuar Tiger Moth was put through an exciting barnstorming style display by it's owner David Cyster. This very Tiger Moth was the one that David flew from the United Kingdom to Austrailia in 1978, a journey that took 32 days.
Bringing us further upto date was the Scottish Aviation Bulldog. The comaflaged version on display was "002" and is the earliest flying Bulldog. It is owned by Angus Douglas-Hamiltion who owns the nearby Archerfield airfield used by a few of the partipants for the show. Angus was chief test pilot for the Bulldog and "001" is preserved and on display at the museum.
The replacement for the Bulldog, the Grob Tutor was also put through a full aerobatic display by Flt Lt Andy Preece who was one of the few acts to find his way up north ffrom the Sunderland Airshow to display at East Fortune.
One of the highlights of the afternoon and adding some much needed colour to the event was Jonathon Whalley's display in the Hawker Hunter F58a Miss Demeanour. The noise and spectacle of this colourful jet pulling vapour off the top surface of it's wings grabs the attention of the crowd.
Aerobatic displays were also high on the agenda for East Fortune. Jim McTaggart displayed his Stolp SA-300 Starduster Too at one his few "home" shows. The Starduster Too is a kit aircraft combining classic biplanes looks with modern construction built for fun flying. Team Guinot added their own brand of barnstorming and aerobatics to proceeding in their Stearman biplanes.
The Blades display team put on an exciting flat display of formation and solo aerobatics in their Extra 300LP aircraft, one of the most modern aerobatic aircraft available. Crowds who stayed on after the main show had finished would have caught sight of the team displaying a again just a few miles aways at a private display.
The Swift Aerobatic Display Team mounted their first display in Scotland having also attempted to display at Sunderland. The team of Piper Pawnee, S-1 Swift and Silence Twister were first seen diving through a hole in the clouds above East Fortune mid aftrenoon to land at Archerfield. They returned later in the afternoon for their display of formation aerobatics on tow and the solo routines of the Twister and Swift. Once off tow, Guy Westgate in the Swift landed out of sight of the crowd on the main straight of the East Fortune Raceway.
Though East Fortune wasn't a "Priority One" airshow for the RAF, it was good to see a number of the solo displays at the show alongside the aforementioned Tutor. The next step in RAF training is the Shorts Tucano T1 which was displayed by Flt Lt Stew Campbell. Though not a fast jet, the Tucano display still needs a fair amount of airspace in which to display and the conditions at East Fortune must have been fairly close to the limit for Stew's display. The RAF's newest solo display, the King Air 200 put on a magnificent display underneath the cloud base with some steep turns and wingovers finishing with a steep approach down the crowd line.
The display finale was the Eurofighter Typhoon F2 flown by Flt Lt Charlie Matthews. Charlie managed to catch the best of the afternoon's weather with some breaks in the cloud. The damp air made for some spectacular flash condensation over the wings of the fighter as it pulled "G-forces" before zooming off into the blue skies.
It was a difficult day for display flying and many thanks must go the pilots and crew who braved the poor conditions to put on a enjoyable show over East Fortune. Such conditions make flying display organisation a very fluid process that is always changing and praise must also go to that team led by Ray Thilithorpe. Next's years airshow will be held on the 25th July 2009.