I’ve been an airshow commentator since 2009, starting with the ‘big one’, the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford Without a doubt, Scotland’s National Airshow has become one of my favourite jobs since I was first involved in 2011, and I’ve not missed one since.
East Fortune favourites
The crowd at East Fortune Airfield has to be the most naturally appreciative I’ve come across. This became apparent the first time I commentated in 2011, and that impression has only grown. The genuinely enthusiastic applause for every display item helps give the whole show a really nice ambience – and our air traffic controllers never fail to let the participating pilots know their efforts went down so well!
The flying programme is always an excellent mixture of familiar favourites and more unusual acts, with some special formations often thrown in. I’ve especially enjoyed some of the international participation.
The chance to visit the National Museum of Flight is a big part of the attraction. I’ve been delighted to see the recent hangar redevelopments taking shape and reaching fruition, especially as they contain several rare aircraft you won’t see in a museum anywhere else.
While the show includes some of the airshow circuit’s biggest attractions, like the Red Arrows and the Eurofighter Typhoon, East Fortune Airfield is an intimate setting in which to watch them.
And it’s a beautiful part of the world – the ‘big skies’ of East Lothian provide a fine backdrop to the displays.
My air display highlights for 2018
The Bristol Blenheim, from the Aircraft Restoration Company at Duxford, is a very appropriate aircraft to see at East Fortune – it represents a night fighter version of the type, and Blenheim night fighters were stationed not far away at RAF Drem during wartime. The same operator’s Hispano Buchón – a Spanish-built, Rolls-Royce Merlin-engined version of Germany’s Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter – is another very interesting aircraft, because 50 years ago this summer it was involved in the filming of the Battle of Britain movie.
The twin-engined Percival Pembroke light transport aircraft isn’t something we’ve seen at East Fortune, at least not since I started commentating at the show. It may look innocuous enough, but Pembrokes were used for some highly clandestine reconnaissance tasks during the Cold War. It also puts on a very flowing display.
A couple of years ago, the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron visited East Fortune for the first time, with its MiG-15 and de Havilland Vampire. This year the two elegant Vampires are in RAF markings, newly applied for the RAF’s 100th anniversary year. When watching them, it’s worth recalling how, 70 years ago, RAF Vampires became the first jet aircraft ever to fly across the Atlantic.
And then, of course, there’s the modern-day front-line RAF fighter: the Eurofighter Typhoon, which is so well-known in Scotland. I’m sure I’ll talk on the day about the RAF 100 celebrations this year, and this very potent aircraft’s place in the service’s modern-day front line.
Farewell to the P-51D Mustang
Everything I’ve just mentioned – plus, of course, everything else! One other item I’d mention, though: this will be Peter Teichman’s last appearance at East Fortune, as Peter, one of the airshow circuit’s most seasoned pilots, has decided to retire from display flying at the end of the 2018 season. His P-51D Mustang display will, therefore, be tinged with an extra bit of emotion. I’m sure the crowd will give him a good send-off.
Event programme subject to change.