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East Fortune by Simon Johnson - CrewMaster

Scotland’s National Airshow at East Fortune has, over the years, become a regular event for us and one we really enjoy. We are made so welcome by the organisers and the public who come to the air show.

Both aircraft were requested so a team was put together to get both helicopters over the border and the motorhome to act as the Huey shop and crew accommodation.  Phil and Jo along with Stuart were taking to the slower mode of transport.  Capt Rob Tierney piloted Huey509 with myself as flight crew and Capt Dick Barton piloted Loach011 with Daz (Dick and Daz ...sounds like a comedy duo) as flight crew. We were all travelling up the day before so we had to time the aircrafts’ departure times so that we give Phil, Jo and Stuart time to get to East Fortune site at the National Museum of Scotland before we did in the aircraft and to give them time to check out the various landing sites.



The motor home left base around 11:30hrs whilst the aircrew were departing at 14:00hrs. The plan was for the Huey and Loach to fly to Carlisle to refuel the Huey and from there we were flying north and east to East Fortune. The Loach had both the main and auxiliary tanks brimmed before leaving Wesham, so had more than enough fuel to get there and back. The thirsty Huey on the other hand certainly need replenishing en route. Once fuelled up the Huey had enough in its tanks to fly to East Fortune, do the flying required there on site including the display and then on to Edinburgh Airport before refuelling.

The flight to Carlisle was relatively uneventful as the weather had improved since the report we had received from those on the road ahead of us. We had a few rain showers to avoid but nothing to write home about. We landed at Carlisle and set about filling up 509 then spoke to Phil who told us he wouldn’t be at East Fortune until around 16:30hrs. An hour later we were ready to lift with the skies brighter to the north promising to be a good flight. Dick led the way with the Loach with Rob following in the Huey. Progress was good and it wasn’t long before we saw the waters of the Firth of Forth.



We turned east and studied the maps that had been provided to us as there were several no fly zones that we had been instructed not to over fly. The Loach was to land first outside the front of the Concorde hangar. Rob was to land the Huey, initially, on the section of perimeter track that is used by the displaying helicopters as the lift point before repositioning on the other side of the fence for the overnight parking.

Now it was all hands to the pump to get the accommodation for everyone set up. That meant the awning on the motor home and a couple of tents as well. Whilst we were doing that several people came up to talk to us about the helicopters and to take a closer look at the machines. Soon we were settled for the night and we were able to catch up on the day’s events.

Up early we tied up and set up the shop in good time before the gates to the public were opened. At 10:00hrs the gates were opened and in came the crowds. The weather was not too bad in the morning and it continued to be cloudy and sunny throughout the rest of the day. The crowd was so friendly and we had some great fun talking to all who came to say hello.  The shop did a roaring trade with the UH1H baseball caps being the best seller of the day. We sold out of the caps as the sun kept popping out from behind the clouds and it got to the point that we had to sell the cap off Stuart’s head as one chap was so disappointed that we hadn’t got any left! Well Stuart’s was nearly new and we couldn’t let our supporters down!

An impressive line up of display aircraft entertained the huge crowds that had turned out. As always the Red Arrows enthralled the crowd. The Search and Rescue Sea king helicopter gave a excellent demonstration of just how good a helicopter it is, this was also the last time it would display in Scotland before being pensioned off. We were also treated to a very elegant display by the newly restored Blenheim fighter bomber with the MKI nose fitted. Not forgetting of course Huey 509 piloted by Rob making the signature sound that everyone wants to hear from her tremendous rotor blades. The air show finished with the mighty Typhoon carving up the sky and making one heck of a noise.



No sooner had the day started and it was over. The crowds dissipated and the exhibitors and traders began to break down the displays and stalls. We prepared Huey509 for departure with Phil and Rob as Pilot and Co-Pilot with Stuart as their flight crew.  They lifted first to head to Edinburgh to refuel whilst  Dick and Daz delayed their departure to help Jo and I to break down the shop and awning and to pack it all into the motor home and trailer. Once that was done they climbed in to the Loach and lifted to fly directly back to Wesham in one hop. By my calculations the two aircraft would land back at base at about the same time.

Jo and I hit the road and headed west along the A1. The traffic was very light apart from a slight hold up just to the south of Edinburgh. After that it was plain sailing. We got a call to say the Loach had landed just before 20:00hrs and the Huey shortly afterwards. Jo and I got back two and half hours after them! A busy and very long day, but as always just such good fun. Thank you very much East Fortune.



 
 
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