Gemma Thorns, Assistant Conservator Technology

By Gemma Thorns, Assistant Conservator Technology

Recently the Engineering and Furniture Conservation Team undertook the exterior cleaning of three large aircraft in the grounds at the National Museum of Flight at East Fortune Airfield. This was no mean feat, as given their size they presented the conservation team with quite a challenge. The aircraft to be cleaned was the Avro Vulcan B.2A, the De Havilland Comet 4C, and the “Lothian Region” BAC111-510ED. Each of the aircraft had interesting and significant working lives before arriving at the Museum of Flight, and so it is important to keep them in good condition.

The Vulcan was the world’s first delta winged bomber when it first flew in 1952. Our Vulcan made the headlines when, due to a fractured in-flight refuelling probe, the Vulcan diverted to Rio de Janeiro. After seven days internment the aircraft and crew were released. On the nose can be seen two mission markings and a Brazilian flag commemorating her unscheduled stopover.

Vulcan being cleaned at National Museum of Flight

The Vulcan

The Comet was the first jet powered passenger airliner, the prototype first flying in July 1949. Our Comet was the last Comet to fly in commercial colours when she flew from Lasham, Hampshire to East Fortune in September 1981.

The Comet aircraft being cleaned at National Museum of Flight

The Comet

The BAC111 was a British short-range jet airliner of the 1960s and 1970s, and was one of the most successful British airliner designs, serving until a widespread retirement in the 1990s. Our “Lothian Region” BAC111 was used for the shuttle service between Edinburgh and London

The Lothian Region BAC111 being cleaned at National Museum of Flight

The “Lothian Region” BAC111

Luckily the week the team assembled on site was dry and fairly sunny, which made the cleaning much easier. Splitting into smaller teams, and with the help of volunteers, we used hoses, a power washer, mops, brushes and aviation detergent to remove the build-up of dirt, lichen and moss from the aircraft, using lifting equipment to access the higher areas. The final areas of cleaning will be carried out later in the year.

The Vulcan aircraft being cleaned at National Museum of Flight

The Vulcan

With the conservation cleaning almost complete, it is clear to see that the aircraft has greatly benefited from the work, and they can now be seen gleaming in the sunshine once again.

A guest post by David Gardiner, Laid Back Bikes for The Wheels and Wings Show that took place Sunday 21 September 2014 at National Museum of Flight, East Fortune.

Laid Back Bikes sells specialist bikes, tandems and trikes not generally found in mainstream bike shops. We represent small manufacturers based in Scotland, England, The Netherlands, Germany and Spain. Most machines are made to order and take from three weeks to three months to deliver.

We started Laid Back in 2005 with the idea of just doing tours with three bikes acquired from the Ligfietswinkel shop in Amsterdam.

Laid Back Bikes at Wheels and WIngs in 2013

Laid Back Bikes at The Wheels and Wngs Show in 2013.

Nine years later we have expanded to have our own showroom on Marchmont Crescent, Edinburgh run by myself and my wife Irene. Most days are spent doing quotations on the web, packing and unpacking boxes and doing pre-booked test rides. We still do guided tours to order and this lets people see how comfortable our bikes and trikes are. Tours vary from 10 to 25  miles and generally go to Portobello or Cramond.

Laid Back Bikes at Wheels and Wings 2013

Laid Back Bikes at The Wheels and Wings in 2013.

Apart from the ‘laid back’ bikes and trikes we also offer tandems and Dutch ‘bakfiets’. (These are longer load carrying bikes that can carry children and shopping. Some have electric assist).

Laid Back Bikes at Wheels and Wings 2013

Laid Back Bikes at The Wheels and Wings 2013.

The Wheels and Wings Show gives us an opportunity to let people see and try a test circuit on our ‘laid back’ machines.  It’s also an opportunity for us to answer any technical questions and concerns people have about riding these on the road. This is our third year at Wheels and Wings and our fourth at East Fortune.

For us Wheels and Wings is our principal public event of the year and lets people of all interests share and understand a bit more about using human power as a means of going places. Recumbent bike riding is quite unlike upright cycling and if you haven’t tried it yet, Wheels and Wings is your ideal chance!

#WheelsandWings

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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.

Here we are, less a month to go to Scotland’s National Airshow, and things are sliding into place. As I mentioned last time, we’re never 100% sure of our line-up until the day and there have been a couple of changes since my last blog.

Jet Provost at Scotland's National Airshow, July 2011 by P_rocket on Flickr

Jet Provost at Scotland’s National Airshow, July 2011. Image by p_rocket on Flickr

I have managed to secure the services of Newcastle’s Neil McCarthy and his lovely Jet Provost. Neil is a great friend of the National Museum of Flight, East Fortune and has displayed here many times: he always produces the goods and I am delighted he will be part of the line up for what will be an exciting and varied show.

Royal Navy Sea Fury at Scotland's National Airshow in July 2013

Royal Navy Sea Fury at Scotland’s National Airshow in July 2013

I can now tell you all that the Royal Navy has confirmed the participation of the Sea King and the Sea Fury, so everything is in place and I can now go firm(ish) on the air display plan.  I’ve already mentioned that we are sharing a number of aircraft with the Sunderland show this year, and although this can complicate the planning we have been able to accommodate all the various requirements quite easily.

My next job in the planning cycle is producing the co-ordination plan for Edinburgh Airport, to ensure we don’t cause too much havoc in their already-busy air traffic plot.

Privately owned Westland Wasp at the Classic-Jet Air Show, Kemble, England, in 2003.

Privately owned Westland Wasp at the Classic-Jet Air Show  in 2003, similar to the Westland Wasp appearing at Scotland’s National Airshow on Saturday 26 July 2014.

We plan to have a couple of helicopters inside the showground this year as ‘live’ static aircraft, and I’m glad to say we will have an ex-Royal Navy Westland Wasp and the OH-6 Loach.  I always think it lends something to an airshow if people can get close to live aircraft and their crews. Crowds will also see the Royal Navy Sea King and Huey helicopters on the other side of the showground fence. The crowd should always have something interesting to look at when there aren’t aircraft actually displaying.  The Squirrel helicopter will also be landing, carrying RED 10, the RAF Red Arrows display supervisor,  Squadron Leader Mike Ling.

Royal Air Force Areobatic Team "The Red Arrows" on Springhawk 2104 at RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus. © Crown copyright 2014

Royal Air Force Areobatic Team “The Red Arrows” on Springhawk 2104 at RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus. © Crown copyright 2014

My team is straining at the leash and ready to go. Let’s hope the great weather continues beyond the big day. That’s it for now, over and out…

Norm Webster

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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.

My second blog post is a bit earlier than normal, but I thought as I now know what fantastic aircraft we’ll be displaying at this summer’s Airshow, I’d like to share that information with you.

Red Arrows sporting new livery © Tom Hunter

Red Arrows sporting this year’s 50th anniversary livery © Tom Hunter

As you are all no doubt aware, the fact that an aircraft is programmed in the display is no guarantee of its appearance. Occasionally issues over which we have no control, from aircraft serviceability to weather, can have an effect on even the best airshow programmes. With that caveat out of the way, let me reveal that the proposed line–up so far for the Scotland’s National Airshow 2014, East Fortune, is as follows:

  • Red Arrows
  • RAF Typhoon
  • RAF Tucano
  • RAF BBMF Spitfire
  • RAF BBMF Hurricane
  • RAF BBMF Lancaster
  • Bucker Jungmann
  • Stolp Starduster
  • Tiger Moth
  • Breitling Wingwalkers
  • UH-1 Huey
  • OH-6 LOACH (static only)
  • RV8tors aerobatic team
  • Autogyro (type TBD)
  • OV-10 Bronco
  • North American T-6 Texan
OV10 Bronco at the Airshow, National Museum of Flight on 23 July 2011 © Robert G Henderson

OV10 Bronco at the Airshow, National Museum of Flight on 23 July 2011 © Robert G Henderson

I think we have the makings of a great display and I am already planning some great ‘theatre of the air’ moments.

RAF Eurofight Typhoon aircraft will be part of the line-up for the Airshow at National Museum of Flight, East Fortune on Saturday 26  July 2014

RAF Eurofight Typhoon aircraft will be part of the line-up for the Airshow at National Museum of Flight, East Fortune on Saturday 26 July 2014

We had the initial Event Planning & Emergency Services meeting recently, the meeting that sets everybody concerned on the right path, and I think I’m right in saying that everything so far looks good.  Thankfully, I only really have to worry about the flying display: I’d be completely lost if I had to sort out the traffic management or the visitor handling arrangements – I’m sure I’d make a total mess of it!

Rv8tors aerobatic display team © Steve Hawthorne

Rv8tors aerobatic display team © Steve Hawthorne

That’s it for today: this has been just a short message to let you all know that we are on track, and have some spectacular aircraft lined-up for you. All I ask of you all now is to keep praying for good weather.

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.

Not long now until the Airshow!

We are fast approaching display day and the pace here is hotting up.  It’s a busy time for me – I’m also planning the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT), which takes place the week before the Airshow at National Museum of Flight, but in reality begins on Wednesday when aircraft start arriving from all over the world.

Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Hurricane 7D2645 by Philip Tyler. Taking part in the air display for the Airshow on Sat 27 July National Museum of Flight, East Fortune

A Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Hurricane 7D 2645 by Philip Tyler.

As for East Fortune, I thought I had a plan – I had a plan for the programme, but, as always in the air display business, things change.  In this case, the cancellation of a display aircraft due to lack of serviceability.  I’m working on a solution and hopefully we’ll be able to plug the gap with something similar, but it still gives me a bit of a problem until I have a solution sorted.  Other than that, the admin that surrounds the display seems to be coming together quite nicely.  Crew accommodation is now sorted, crew transport is planned and crew meals are ordered.

Trigg Team Pitts S1D Specials by Philip Tyler.  Taking part in the air display for the Airshow on Sat 27 July National Museum of Flight, East Fortune

Trigg Team Pitts S1D Specials by Philip Tyler.

As for me and my team – we’ll be in the same hotel we have used for the past two years so we know we’ll be well fed and looked after. I spoke some time ago about the challenges we may have with sharing so many aircraft with the Sunderland display. Well it looks like that is now sorted to everyone’s satisfaction and I can carry on with my planning accordingly.

Looking at the long range weather forecast – well I don’t think it will be Caribbean weather (and I don’t mean hurricanes), but I think we’ll be OK. Obviously there are never any guarantees with weather forecasts, especially this far ahead, but I do admit to feeling better about it than I did at this point last year.

Breitling Wingwalker by Philip Tyler. Taking part in the air display for the Airshow on Sat 27 July National Museum of Flight, East Fortune

Breitling Wingwalker by Philip Tyler.

The crews will be getting all their display documents this week, so any last minute changes can be sorted (and there are always last minute changes).  Once that’s done, hopefully all I will have to do is wait for the day – and help run RIAT in my copious free time.

Two man gyrocopter, part of the air display for the Airshow on Sat 27 July National Museum of Flight, East Fortune

Two man gyrocopter.

I hope that those of you who attend enjoy a fine day out – I’ve always been very impressed by the organisation of this event by the National Museum of Flight team, and I hope that you find the flying display as exciting and as interesting as I have always intended.

See you there.

A guest post by Captain Tony Yule, former British Airways Concorde pilot

In two parts Captain Tony Yule tells us about his career as a Concorde pilot with British Airways.  In part 1 he describes the Concorde pilot training programme he undertook and in part 1 he reveals tales of his adventures piloting Concorde. You can see and experience Concorde for yourself at National Museum of Flight, East Fortune. 

USA, Caribbean and beyond

Once I had passed my Concorde training, I began six years as second in command, flying primarily to the USA and back with Barbados included in the winter schedules. During my time, I completed just over 2500 hours with most of those hours being to New York and back.

Time zone clocks in Concorde hangar,  National Museum of Flight, East Fortune

Time zone clocks in Concorde hangar, National Museum of Flight, East Fortune

I think I went to New York twice a week for six years. It was my favourite destination and I even wrote a “walking tour” of the city, for newcomers to the fleet. It was that tour that got me on BBC Radio 4′s “Going Places” in 1989, with Molly Price-Owen and Clive Jacobs, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Concorde’s first flight.

The Concorde operation, in my period on the fleet, 1987-1993, was two flights a day to JFK, three flights a week to IAD/MIA (Washington Dulles and Miami), one flight a week to BGI (Barbados) from mid-December to just after Easter. There were many charter flights to a wide variety of destinations around the world.

By the time Concorde had finished, she had made the equivalent of 250 round trips to the moon, flown to more than 250 destinations, of which 80 plus were within the USA.

British Airways Concorde in 1986 © Eduard Marmet

British Airways Concorde in 1986 © Eduard Marmet

Flying Concorde was great fun

Flying Concorde was great fun. It was a very stable aeroplane and for half of my time on the fleet I never used the autopilot. It was a fabulous experience to handle such a great flying machine.

Supersonic flying was quite unique at first. Concorde flew two and a half times faster than subsonic aeroplanes and it took a few months of flying to become really comfortable with the operation. You had to be “on the ball” throughout the short flight. It was not an aeroplane where you wandered into the cabin to chat to the passengers. They in fact, came to visit us.

1-2-4-cockpit1-JF-500px

Celebrity Concorde

I met a few interesting people, Brigitte Neilson, Steven Spielberg, Jackie Stewart and Nigel Hawthorne, these last three always came straight into the flight deck for the take off, then returned for the landing. Incidentally, Steven Spielberg never used his real name.  It reminded me of Julia Roberts in the film ‘Notting Hill’.

At the latitude we flew, Concorde travelled two and half times faster than the setting sun. One of the most memorable things that occurred to every Concorde pilot was the first time (in the early Autumn), you took the late service, BA003. If you departed at 7pm, now darkness and by mid Atlantic, heading West of course, you experienced a sun rise for the second time that day, duly landing in daylight at JFK at 6pm local time. You never forget your first time – ever!

Serving champage aboard Concorde G-BOAA, National Museum of Flight, East Fortune © Jenni Sophia Fuchs

Serving champage aboard Concorde G-BOAA, National Museum of Flight, East Fortune © Jenni Sophia Fuchs

Over the years, other than the scheduled services to New York, Washington Dulles, Miami and Barbados, I flew charter flights to Lexington Kentucky, London Ontario, Seattle, St John’s Newfoundland, Santa Maria in the Azores, Cairo and Luxor – on ‘Red Nose Day’, while I talked with Simon Bates and the listeners on Radio One about the operation we were doing.

A Supersonic Christmas

One of the best trips I made was to Rovaniemi in Lapland in December, where the passengers went to see Father Christmas. On two occasions I spent Christmas there in the hotel. On Christmas morning, all the children from the town plus those returning on Concorde came to the hotel. The manager of the hotel led the children to a wood for them to select the tree that they would decorate in the hotel before lunch.

The crews always became involved in a sort of pantomime after lunch for all these children. I ended up on one occasion, as the back end of a cow while at the front end was a beautiful stewardess. I was given a yellow rubber glove to use for ‘udders’!

Supersonic Christmas, National Museum of Flight, East Fortune © Paul Dodds

Supersonic Christmas, National Museum of Flight, East Fortune © Paul Dodds

I feel very privileged to have had a career as an aviator spanning 46 years, including being part of history in flying Concorde.  Lastly, it was my privilege to have introduced my replacement on the fleet, “The Crimper”, Barbara Harmer, who died two years ago on on 20 February. You can see my tribute to her on my page at, www.facebook.com/concordeheritage

#WheelsandWings

A guest post by Captain Tony Yule, former British Airways Concorde pilot

In two parts Captain Tony Yule tells us about his career as a Concorde pilot with British Airways.  In part 1 he describes the Concorde pilot training programme he undertook and in part 2 he reveals tales of his adventures piloting Concorde. Why not see and experience Concorde for yourself at National Museum of Flight, East Fortune. 

A dream becomes reality

My stomach was churning with excitement as we sat in the stillness of the flight deck, waiting for the controller to give us our clearance, “Concorde AG you’re cleared for Take-Off, climb straight ahead and maintain three thousand feet”…..

Mach sign on board Concorde G-BOAA, National Museum of Flight, East Fortune © Jenni Sophia Fuchs

Mach sign on board Concorde G-BOAA, National Museum of Flight, East Fortune © Jenni Sophia Fuchs

I looked around at the other crew members saying, “Everyone ready?” Then with their acknowledgement I said, “3-2-1 NOW” immediately pushing the four throttle levers rapidly fully forward. I was totally unprepared for the acceleration as she roared down the runway with the performance of a F1 sports car. She seemed to leap into the air climbing like a homesick angel…..We passed three thousand, then four thousand and I finally got her under some semblance of control at just under five thousand feet………….. A dream come true but long before this…

Captain Tony Yule with Concorde G-BOAA at National Museum of Flight, East Fortune

Captain Tony Yule with Concorde G-BOAA at National Museum of Flight, East Fortune

I’ve always wanted to be a pilot

“I have a dream….”  said Martin Luther King.  I too had a dream that was very different from his. It was as I remember, that from the age of eight I wanted to be a pilot. Ten years later in December 1958 that dream became a reality, when I was accepted for pilot training in the Royal Air Force. I had almost completed my four year tour as a QFI, Qualified Flying Instructor, at the RAF College Cranwell, when Concorde made her first take-off from Filton, Bristol on 9 April 1969. This beautiful slender delta aeroplane, even today still more futuristic looking than any other, caught my imagination. “Oh I wish I could fly her one day”.  I thought, little realising that in less than four years I would join BOAC, (pre British Airways), where in exactly fifteen years and twelve days after Concorde’s inaugural flight from Filton, I would be sitting in the right hand seat of Concorde G-BOAG on the end of R/W 31 at Prestwick airport, with my left hand on the throttled…

Captain Tony Yule aboard Concorde G-BOAA at National Museum of Flight, East Fortune

Beneath Concorde G-BOAA at National Museum of Flight, East Fortune

Concorde training was very different

These days, the training of pilots to fly most, if not all modern aeroplanes, is undertaken using a CBT, Computer Based Training system, for learning the INS and OUTS of the workings of an aeroplane. The exams are set electronically at the end of each system and a pass of 100% is required. The British Airways Training Centre is at Cranebank – we called it Branecrank – less than one mile to the East of the airport at London Heathrow. All flight and cabin crew training is still undertaken there.  It takes about two months to learn to fly a Boeing 747 there. As part of the training the pilots make around three landings and one missed approach with the most critical engine(s) failed. These are legal requirements for the pilot to demonstrate his flying skills. Concorde, on the other hand, was very different. The course lasted around six months.

I was initially put through seven weeks of ground school where the instructors, using the old “chalk and talk” method, stood in front of the blackboard and took me through the nuts and bolts of all the mechanical and electrical systems of the aeroplane. Every Friday there was a test with 100 questions on the previous week’s work. This was followed by a test of 150 questions on what I had learnt during the week.  At the end of the seven weeks, there was a three-hour test that had been set by the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority). This is a legal requirement for all, with a pass of no less than 85% being accepted. The Flight Simulator phase was next. The simulator is an exact replica of Concorde’s flight deck. This phase lasted seven weeks, with some to three sessions each week, each would be a briefing and flight preparation of one hour, and then four hours in “the box”, as the flight simulator is affectionately called, followed by up to two hours of debriefing.

Captain Tony Yule aboard Concorde G-BOAA at National Museum of Flight, East Fortune

Captain Tony Yule aboard Concorde G-BOAA at National Museum of Flight, East Fortune

A complicated machine

It’s worth noting that Concorde was like two aeroplanes in one.  She had to operate in the same environment as conventional aeroplanes up to 40,000 feet – then to operate in the hostile environment of “Super Cruise”, that is speeds of Mach 2 – twice the speed of sound – 1350mph which is 23miles/min or 1mile every 2 ¾ seconds, at altitudes up to 60,000 feet – just over 18km. A lot of problems could ‘leap out of the woodwork’ at a moment’s notice and we needed to deal with them quickly. Much of the simulator flying time was spent perfecting the handling of major emergencies at 60,000 feet for example double engine failures, pressurisation failures and also engine failures on take off and landing. The penultimate phase was ‘Base’ flying. Base was airport used by British Airways such as Prestwick in Scotland or Shannon in Ireland, for the flight training known as ‘circuits and landings’. The Concorde pilot had to make 35 approaches and landings, over a period of about two weeks. Each flight, the pilot would make around five approaches.

Concorde G-BOAA's flight controls, National Museum of Flight, East Fortune © Jenni Sophia Fuchs

Concorde G-BOAA’s flight controls, National Museum of Flight, East Fortune © Jenni Sophia Fuchs

A good pilot takes practice

The reason so many landings were practised, is that Concorde has this huge delta shaped wing that when she came into land, her nose was extremely high. Her delta wing created a high amount of drag, a similar effect to putting a hand out of the window of a moving car and feeling it being ‘dragged’ backwards. There’s a special technique to fly Concorde on the approach to the runway. Get it wrong, the end result could be a really bad landing that could damage the aeroplane. So it was practice, practice and more practice, to ensure we were competent. Remember, a ‘good pilot’ is one who has the same number of landings as take offs! My completion of the course was checked by an observer, in this case the Flight Manager Technical, on a scheduled flight from London to New York and back the following day. I passed!

You can read part 2 of Tony’s story here.

#WheelsandWings

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