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A guest post by Norm Webster, Flight Display Director for Scotland’s National Airshow at National Museum of Flight, East Fortune that took place on Saturday 26 July 2014.

Take a look at some of the fantastic images on the air display and on the ground activity that were taken of Scotland’s National Airshow in our Flickr Group and check back on the Airshow here for announcements of our 2015 show.

There’s only a few days to go to the Scotland’s National Airshow and I’m feeling quite relaxed – I wonder what I’m missing?

Six year old Mia looks forward to the arrival of the RAF Red Arrows at Scotland’s National Airshow on Sat 26 July © Phil Wilkinson

Six year old Mia looks forward to the arrival of the RAF Red Arrows at Scotland’s National Airshow on Sat 26 July © Phil Wilkinson

That’s a regular feeling for display organisers. When everything seems to be going well and all your plans are working you begin to worry that you’ve missed something, or there’s a large alligator waiting in the wings to take a bite out of you.

American Alligator in Florida, USA.

American Alligator in Florida, USA.

As it is, I’ve checked, double checked and triple checked, and everything that I personally can do to make the day a success has been done (I think!). The display is planned down to the last minute, the Edinburgh airport and Archerfield airstrip plans are done and work (I hope!) and the display team plan is written and distributed to my team.

The Breitling WIngwalker's Boeing Stearman aircraft at Archerfield ready for Scotland's National Airshow in 2013.

The Breitling WIngwalker’s Boeing Stearman aircraft at Archerfield ready for Scotland’s National Airshow in 2013.

This year, visitors to the Airshow will have the chance to get up close to some helicopters: the OH6 Huey and Wasp, which will be parked in the show ground; and the Royal Navy’s Sea King and RAF Red Arrow’s Squirrel helicopters will be landing on the day. I am confident that Scotland’s National Airshow will be a great success.

OH6 Huey Helicopter arriving at Scotland’s National Airshow in 2013 © Thomas Sunley

Anyway, that’s my musings today – I’ve not got a great deal to say because just about everything is done. I’ll be wending my way up the M6 next Thursday full of the joys of spring and ready for my favourite airshow of the year. I’ll write again when it’s all over.

See you at East Fortune,

Norm Webster

A guest post by Norm Webster, Flight Display Director for the Airshow at National Museum of Flight, East Fortune.

Take a look at some of the fantastic images on the air display and on the ground activity that were taken of Scotland’s National Airshow in our Flickr Group and check back on the Airshow here for announcements of our 2015 show.

Another year has passed and here we are again preparing for the Airshow at National Museum of Flight –  this is therefore part 1 of my ‘East Fortune 2013’ story.

Last week a meeting took place at National Museum of Flight, East Fortune to discuss the coming show and to ensure coordination between the National Museum of Flight team, the emergency services and other interested parties.  I always look on this meeting as the start of the display planning ‘proper’, as it’s the first time all those involved get together to talk about our aspirations and plans.

Sea King SAR helicopter will be at the Airshow at East Fortune

A Sea King SAR helicopter.

The display planning involves quite a number of different agencies including the police, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Scottish Ambulance, East Lothian Council and St Andrews First Aid for emergency planning and support, the AA, Traffic Scotland and BEAR Scotland for road and traffic management, and various companies dealing in security, marshalling and car parking, as well as the usual agencies and the museum staff involved with actually delivering the show on the day.  I am pleased to say that the meeting was successful on all counts, with everyone satisfied with their place in the plan and all the changes from last year understood.

The Grob 115E, known by the RAF as the Tutor will form part of the air display at the Airshow, National Museum of Flight, East Fortune on Saturday 27 July 2013.

The Grob 115E, known by the RAF as the Tutor.

This meeting was only the start of a busy couple of days for me, so from East Fortune It was back in the car to Edinburgh Airport to speak with the Airport Authority, Air Traffic Control and the aircraft Handling Agents.  It would be impossible for me to organise the flying display without the help and assistance of these three organisations as Edinburgh is a busy airport, and the coordination plan for getting aircraft in and out on display day can be quite complex.  With this in mind, a face to face meeting with all concerned is always a good idea, and also helps build good working relationships.  I shall be parking several aircraft at Edinburgh for the display, and as always the Edinburgh authorities were helpful and understanding which gives me a warm fuzzy feeling about the developing plan.  It was also a fine opportunity to sort out display day domestic issues for the crews – even pilots have to eat!!

The RAF Tucano team will be part of the air display at the Airshow, National Museum of Flight, East Fortune on Sat 27 July 2013

The RAF Tucano.

After all these meetings I always try to find a little ‘me’ time while I’m up here, as it’s such a beautiful part of the world.  This time it took the guise of a flight in a pre-war biplane.  It was lovely to fly over the Bass Rock, and to check out all the golf courses along the Forth, especially Muirfield, with the stands in place ready for the Open.  I picked the right time as well; although the weather was glorious for the flight, an hour after we landed it was throwing it down with hailstones!!  I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to Scottish weather.  Then it was back in the car for a relaxing (?) drive back to Gloucestershire.

It’s always a good feeling to have these initial planning meetings under your belt and some decisions made.  Even at this early stage, the more things I have decided the easier the planning process becomes.  I already have numerous aircraft planned and allocated to the display – you can find out more about the display highlights here. Suffice it to say that I think we’re going to have an excellent display this year, and I’m looking forward to another brilliant (and hopefully dry) day at the Airshow in July.

 By Alpha-Alpha, National Museum of Flight, East Fortune

Take a look at some of the fantastic images on the air display and on the ground activity that were taken of Scotland’s National Airshow in our Flickr Group and check back on the Airshow here for announcements of our 2015 show.

Much of the work in the weeks before the Airshow is ensuring that all of our traders, caterers and exhibitors have sent in all their licences, risk assessments and insurances so that we can submit them all to the Licensing Department at East Lothian Council, and also making sure all the staff and volunteers are briefed fully on event security and safety plans, and information that the visitors will need on the day. I’ve been working with the Rotary Clubs of Tranent, Longniddry, Haddington and North Berwick to provide an invaluable wristband identification service for children. I’m continuing to talk to suppliers and sponsors: Wisemans are giving us juice and milk for all our cadets and a loan of fridges for the packed lunches – we would not know what to do without them!

A Red Arrows’ Hawk jet in action © MOD Crown Copyright.

The official Airshow programme detailing the line-up is being finalised and we work with the Flight Director to source and choose appropriate images, aircraft history specifications and interesting facts from the pilots themselves.  Businesses in the local community, charities, the RAF and National Museums Scotland also contribute written pieces and take advertising space.

Flight Director's control tower at the Airshow at National Museum of Flight, East Fortune in 2011

Flight Director’s control tower at the Airshow at National Museum of Flight, East Fortune in 2011.

Discussions have taken place with East Coast FM for the on ground entertainment announcements and background on all the entertainers. For the flight display in the afternoon, we have a dedicated commentator and Red 10 will commentate specially for the Red Arrows display. The Prentice Coaches timetable for the free shuttle bus from North Berwick Station and also Haddington town centre are all in place.  Additionally, transportation has been confirmed for all the pilots who are going to be available for the meet-and-greets in front of the Flight Director’s Event Tower in the afternoon.

On the ground entertainment interviews have also been arranged with Jamie Squibb, Aviatricks, Musical Youth and Encore and Tony Yule, the former Concorde pilot. Tony will be helping with the meeting and greeting of the 100 Radio Forth Prize-winners at their VIP Buffet breakfast with Boogie and Dingo from Radio Forth.

Airshow visitors seated in front of the Vulcan bomber at the Airshow, National Museum of Flight, East Fortune in 2011

Airshow visitors seated in front of the Vulcan bomber at the Airshow, National Museum of Flight, East Fortune in 2011.

If visitors are feeling peckish there will be a wide choice of Airshow culinary delights to choose from, this year we have catering provided by our on site Aviator Café plus:

  • Ashers Ice Cream
  • Cafe2U – coffee vans
  • Decadent Delights – home and handmade cream and butter fudges
  • Grants Ice Cream
  • MoBoJos – new! from their highly praised Café at Rosslyn Chapel
  • S Luca Of Musselburgh
  • Sweet City
  • Hot Dog King
  • Berries and Cream
  • Tasty Kitchen – fast food
  • The Good Food Shop – home-made pies and bridies
  • The New American Donut Company
  • Waterloo Bistro – Bar and BBQ
  • West Coast Kettle Corn – new! popcorn
  • Well Hung and Tender
  • Twirly Tatties – new!

We are also been greatly assisted again by the lovely team of volunteer ladies who come and help us every year ensuring the emergency services personnel, staff and volunteers are kept topped up with tea, coffee and biscuits in the Crew Room area – this is crucial on the day and without this service we would be lost!

Sea King helicopter on approach at the Airshow at National Museum of Flight, East Fortune in 2011

Sea King helicopter on approach at the Airshow at National Museum of Flight, East Fortune in 2011.

Plotting and marking out all the site and car park areas in anticipation for the thousands of  visitors is well underway and there’s only one more meeting to go with the Emergency Planning Team. We have also been busy putting up banners, posters and leaflets and tidying up our aircraft and hangars and exhibition areas to welcome all the visitors.  Finally, passes and packs for exhibitors and participants will be posted in couple of weeks… and then it’s nearly all over. Time to sleep maybe, but not just yet!

Please note all information is correct at the time of publishing. Flights and timings are subject to change, prevailing weather conditions and operational requirements.

Jungmann aircraftA guest post by Norm Webster, Flight Display Director for the Airshow at National Museum of Flight, East Fortune.

Take a look at some of the fantastic images on the air display and on the ground activity that were taken of Scotland’s National Airshow in our Flickr Group and check back on the Airshow here for announcements of our 2015 show.

It’s about now that things normally start slotting into place: the paperwork is in order, the licences are issued, the pilots are briefed and all we have to do is wait for the day.

My planning is working out: the document known as ‘Pilots’ Notes’ is at the printers; the Display Pilot’s briefing is compiled; the accommodation plot is finalised and booked. Accommodation plot, I hear you say? Yes, I have to ensure that we have booked sufficient suitable accommodation not only for my display team but also for all the crews attending.

A Jungmann aircraft will fly at the Airshow on Sat 23 July 2011

A Jungmann aircraft will fly at the Airshow on Sat 23 July 2011 © Paul Johnson

As you can imagine, finding sufficient rooms in one hotel in Edinburgh at this time of year can be tricky, especially one with conference facilities so that I can carry out the pilots’ pre-display briefing. Big as Edinburgh is, there aren’t many hotels in the area that can manage my requirements but thankfully we found one, and all my accommodation worries are now over.

I mentioned last week that I would talk about display pilots and their requirements – the different things display crews require to make their task easier. I like to look after my crews, having been one myself, and try to ensure that they have good rooms in a decent hotel. Transport is another issue –  crew bus or similar is needed to get them to the aircraft and back again.

Crews like is somewhere quiet and comfortable to relax whilst they wait to display. This is sometimes more of a problem than it seems, as it’s difficult at some venues to provide anything more than a tent with chairs. With the National Museum of Flight Airshow we are lucky to have the rest facilities provided in the General Aviation terminal at Edinburgh Airport. Comfy chairs, satellite TV and a constant supply of tea/coffee and biscuits will keep most aircrew happy, and I envisage no problems.

 welcome return to the Pitts special that will perform aerobatics at the Airshow on Sat 23 July 2011

A welcome return to the Pitts special that will perform aerobatics at the Airshow on Sat 23 July 2011

The timing issues I mentioned earlier are part and parcel of a Display Director’s life. During the display season (June – September) it’s normal for there to be more than one flying display taking place each weekend. The weekend of our display also features the Southport Airshow, Windermere Airshow, and at least one South Coast seaside event. It’s not unusual for pilots to be displaying at more than one of these events on the same day, entailing close co-operation between all the different display control organisations and the pilots to ensure that everyone gets a fair division of the assets.

RV8tors

These RV8tors will be appearing at the Airshow at National Museum of Flight, East Fortune, on Saturday 23 July 2011. © Paul Johnson/Flightline UK

This obviously means that we sometimes can’t display an aircraft at the time we would like due to commitments elsewhere: at the National Museum of Flight there will be at least three display aircraft/acts that are displaying elsewhere either before or after their appearance here. Hopefully I’ve covered all the points required by all the crews, and they’ll be so pleased with the organisation of the Airshow at National Museum of Flight that they’ll be demanding to come back next year!

Next week – not long to go!

Norm Webster

Anita BriggsBy Anita Briggs, Digital Media Content Creator

It’s been almost two years since I joined the new Digital Media team at National Museums Scotland and time has certainly flown by! It’s been a really exciting creative journey getting acquainted with the collections and fascinating world at the museums.

Ice cream van, Bute, September 1983 from the Scottish Life Archive.

The last year has seen an increase in activity in online activity at the National Museums Scotland, we’ve got a fabulous HTML5 redeveloped website which has experienced significant increase in website traffic (up nearly 30% from this time last year) and we are now firmly established on Twitter, Facebook and Flickr. A great addition to our Flickr photostream has been images from our Scottish Life Archive which have marked the changing seasons and special exhibitions.

As Content Creator, the topics that I investigate become ever more varied, and the opening of the redeveloped National Museum of Scotland will only add to my knowledge of peculiar museum facts.  Some of the highlights over the last year have been digital detective investigating the mummy coffins from Ancient Egypt, discovering what objects are associated with Mary Queen of Scots and examining the detail in war paintings.  I’ve also been doing a bit of digital reporting from events across the sites , notably Concorde’s 35th anniversary, World Wars Experience and Robots Live!

Interior of First World War troop tent

Interior of First World War troop tent at World Wars Experience at National Museum of Flight.

We are really excited about the opening of the redeveloped National Museum of Scotland on 29 July.  It gives us the opportunity to feature some of the so far unseen objects  that await visitors when the museum opens its doors. We will be making the most of our social media channels to let you know what is is happening and what new things there are to see. Why not follow us on Twitter, on Facebook and Flickr to keep-up-to-date with developments?

Hippo in the Wildlife Panorama at the National Museum of Scotland

Flying hippo and manatee in the Wildlife Panorama at the National Museum of Scotland. Photo by Sean Bell.

Across the museums, our summer events programme is now in full swing and we are looking forward to letting you know what happens pre and post event at this year’s Airshow and our opening weekend at National Museum of Scotland.  For the Airshow, guest blog posts are being provided by some of those taking part in the flying display and activity on the ground.

The Breitling Wingwalkers performing an aerobatics display.

Well, I think that’s all for now but don’t forget to keep in touch with all that’s going on at National Museums Scotland on our website!

Jungmann aircraftA guest post by Norm Webster, Flight Display Director for the Airshow at National Museum of Flight, East Fortune.

Take a look at some of the fantastic images on the air display and on the ground activity that were taken of Scotland’s National Airshow in our Flickr Group and check back on the Airshow here for announcements of our 2015 show.

As I mentioned previously, airshows need a lot of people to make them work. As the Flying Display Director (FDD), I can’t hope to keep my eye on every single thing that’s happening and so I have a team to help me. Right at the top of the list is the Flying Control Committee (FCC). These are my flying and air display experts. Anybody can be a Display Director, but it takes a very experienced aviator to be a successful Control Committee member. I’m really lucky in my team – I have a previous boss of the Red Arrows and probably one of the most experienced test pilots in United Kingdom. I know that any advice and guidance that I get from them will be correct, timely and worth its weight in gold.

Their job primarily is to ensure that the display pilots are all suitably qualified, experienced and fly an accurate and above all safe display. It’s a bit like the race control committee at a Formula 1 Grand Prix: the director holds the reins but it’s the control committee that issues the yellow and red cards and dishes out any punishments.

OV 10 Bronco

OV 10 Bronco.

As well as the FCC I have a small team of air traffic controllers, two experienced display controllers and examiners. Finally, I have a commentator: a key man if we are to make the display a success as he has to keep the audience informed and entertained at all times. Our commentator is a veteran of the Royal International Air Tattoo and the editor of several notable aviation magazines.

One of the peculiarities with running a display at National Museum of Flight is that we can’t use the airfield. At most flying displays the co-ordination problems begin and end with the aircraft in the display: when must one aircraft take off if it’s not to conflict with another aircraft’s display; and can I land any aircraft between individual displays to save time and ensure the programme runs smoothly. Not a simple task, but manageable.

De Havilland DH 84 Dragon  © Paul Johnson

De Havilland DH 84 Dragon © Paul Johnson.

Now put a major international airport into the equation. Not only must I now produce a display aircraft taxiing plan for the air traffic controllers, I must now de-conflict my aircraft movements with airliner movements. The airlines pay a large amount of money for smooth air traffic services and would not be pleased if I managed to make their aircraft late because it had to taxi the length of the airport behind a single-seat vintage biplane. So I spend time meeting and talking with the controllers at Edinburgh airport to make sure we have a plan that works.

With the plan in place I can now get my aircraft in to and out of Edinburgh airport, but they are still 20 miles away from the National Museum of Flight. A Hawker Hunter takes a lot less time to travel 20 miles than does a De Havilland Dragon, so how do we manage that? Simple: every aircraft flies from Edinburgh airport and enters a holding pattern a few miles away from National Museum of Flight. We can now call the aircraft in as we wish, knowing exactly how long it will take and happy that the next aircraft to display is already in the hold, ready to go.

HMS Gannet SAR during a rescue © Royal Navy

HMS Gannet Sea King SAR © Royal Navy.

What the spectator sees is a flawless display, with short gaps between items and a constant flow of spectacle and commentator information. The amount of planning and preparation, and the sheer professionalism of the Edinburgh airport and display air traffic controllers in making the display happen, should be completely indiscernible to the spectator.

Next week – What do you mean, you want a hotel room? Display pilots and their requirements.

Danielle HughesBy Danielle Hughes (A.K.A. Bird), a Breitling Wingwalker.

Scotland’s National Airshow is a spectacular day out for all the family. Aircraft old and new take to the skies for an afternoon of breathtaking aerial displays , including the return of the Red Arrows to East Fortune. Back on the ground you can meet the pilots and explore our hangars at National Museum of Flight. 

I had always dreamed of becoming a wing lady aviatrix from the age of six after my parents took me to a local airshow for the first time. It was there I experienced the sheer spectacle of the glamorous wingwalkers in action on top of their colourful vintage biplane aircraft. This greatly inspired me and I now had a burning ambition to wing walk that I was determined to achieve.

The Breitling Wingwalkers performing an aerobatics display

I have always been an active person and really like a challenge in life, especially if there is a competitive element to it. At the age of 14, I became the national Tae Kwon Do Black belt second dan British Champion! I like to keep my fitness up in my spare time by jogging, going to the gym and vaulting (gymnastics on moving horses!).

I love every aspect of leading the wingwalking display routine, particularly the thrill of climbing around the aircraft in flight. These position changes happen at various points during the display and require a lot of physical strength to achieve. We often work against 160 mph winds at the same time as the aeroplane is moving through the air!

My favourite manouevre is known as the ‘Cockpit Lady’ pass, named after the Breitling watch: we leave the safety of our static harness and climb down to the cockpit during flight.  While standing in front of the pilot’s windscreen we perform a balletic pose as we soar through the sky! I also love to take to the controls myself and have gained my flying licence too!

I have displayed at the Airshow at National Museum of Flight,  East Fortune a number of times and think it is a fantastic show and always a great crowd!

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