Back in Strathkinness, after our first trip around England, we were chatting with my dad about some of the sights we saw and attractions we visited. While discussing the Boscombe Down Aircraft Collection, he mentioned that there is an aircraft museum just outside Edinburgh.
Thinking that we could handle 2 attractions in a single day, we planned to visit the Air Museum and the Royal Yacht Britannia, which is docked at Leith. This was a good combination, as we could take the Edinburgh Ring Road to the East Fortune Airfield and return through Edinburgh and Leith.
The Air Museum’s star attraction is Concorde G-BOAA. I saw this very aircraft over 41 years ago, read on to find out where!!
Entrance Mural – Yes, they have a Concorde
The museum’s star attraction, the British Airways Concorde, with registration G-BOAA, is prominently displayed in the first hangar.
View of Concorde when entering the hangar
The displays boards started with the journey from London Heathrow to the current home at East Fortune Airfield – barge down the Thames, then up the coast to the local power station, followed by tractor trailer trip across the local fields.
View from the fwd stairs
I then read a board advising that this aircraft made Concorde’s inaugural revenue flight from London Heathrow (LHR) to Bahrain, on 21st January 1976. OMG !!! – I departed LHR that day and recall seeing this Concorde at the gate.
On January 19th, I departed Edinburgh on the overnight train, to catch a flight the next day from LHR to Malta, where I was scheduled to join SS Uganda. Waking up, the train was still in Scotland and going nowhere fast. Eventually getting to London, I called P&O, who got a hotel for the night and a new flight the next day – 21st January. As we taxied to the runway, I still recall the pilot advising we will see Concorde parked at the gate, preparing for the inaugural revenue flight to Bahrain. Fortunately, I had a window seat on the correct side of the plane, as when accelerating down the runway, I had a great view of this Concorde sitting at the gate. Who would have thought, 41 years later, I would be walking through that very same plane.
Thanks to British Rail, as if the train had not been delayed, I would have flown to Malta the previous day.
View when boarding the aircraft
Door is fairly narrow and low
Concorde passenger cabin
While Concorde was all 1st Class, seating assignments were based on status and/or net worth. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has flown on Concorde a number of times and was always assigned seat 1A. Had we been able to afford a ticket, we would have been assigned the back row.
Concorde was the last British Airways commercial aircraft that required a flight engineer.
Wow, a great start to the day, not only seeing and getting a walk through Concorde, but it was the very aircraft I saw at LHR over 40 years ago. How could the rest of the museum possibly meet or beat the opening hangar.
Avro Vulcan – Long Range Nuclear Bomber
Next to the Concorde this is probably # 2 on my list of favourite planes. My first experience with the Vulcan Bomber was during a visit to the RAF Leuchars Airshow. A Vulcan came low overhead with full flaps, gear down and high angle of attack. It was going slow, but with considerable power. As it approached the sky went totally dark and the ground shook as the plane thundered overhead. Wow, an amazing sight that words cannot adequately describe.
Vulcan and single huge bomb
Passing the Vulcan, we entered the military hangar.
Spitfire – German bomber pilot’s worst nightmare
Jaguar Ground Attack Aircraft
Sea Harrier VTOL/STOL
Lightning, Tornado & Jaguar from above
The Meteor has significance for both my dad and I. During his National Service in the RAF, he was assigned to the Ferry Squadron that delivered Meteors from UK out to Singapore and Korea. He also got a ride in the back seat of a Meteor during a demo flight with one of the fighter pilots. When recently at Boscombe-Downs, I tried their flight simulator, which at the time was programmed with a Meteor, so I took-off, completed a loop and landed safely.
This plane also brought back memories, as back in 1967 we went to the Isle of Man for a holiday. Rather than taking a ferry, we flew from Glasgow to Isle of Man Airport, on a Dan-Air Comet. At 10 years old, this was my first ever flight on a plane.
Passenger Compartment of the Dan-Air Comet
We spent so much time wandering around the air museum, it was too late to reach the Royal Yacht at Leith, before it closed. Thoroughly happy, after touring the museum, we stopped for a quick lunch, before heading back home.