RAF East Fortune
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (January 2012)|
|RAF East Fortune
|RAF-era buildings still stand on the airfield, now the National Museum of Flight|
|IATA: none – ICAO: none|
|Operator||Royal Naval Air Service
Royal Air Force
|Location||East Fortune, East Lothian|
|In use||1915-1920, 1940-1947|
|Elevation AMSL||0 ft / 0 m|
The motto of the station was "Fortune Favours the Bold".
The foundation of East Fortune as an flying station pre-dates the creation of the RAF; East Fortune was established as a fighter and airship airfield in 1915. In 1919 the British airship R34 made the first ever return flight across the Atlantic and the first east-west crossing by air, flying from East Fortune to Mineola, New York. The flight took 108 hours and 12 minutes.
During World War II, RAF East Fortune was a flying training establishment, initially for night-fighter operations, changing to training for daylight operations from 1942, and eventually becoming a station for a group of de Havilland Mosquito aircraft. It was also made available as an emergency landing option for bomber aircraft.
After the war the site ceased to be used by the RAF. The runway was extended across the B1347 to take American bombers during the cold war but was never used for this purpose. During the summer of 1961 Turnhouse Airport was closed for construction work and all civil and air force traffic was diverted through East Fortune. The extended runway at East Fortune was used for the summer of 1961 and on a very wet Sunday in April 1961 a BA Viscount from Heathrow overshot the runway and ended up in the grass at the end of the runway after a 180 degree turn. The aircraft was fully laden but there were no injuries. The concrete extension of the East Fortune runway is now used as a runway for microlight aircraft. In 1976 the Scottish Museum of Flight was opened on the site of the former RAF station.
The museum is now called the National Museum of Flight. It occupies the southern part of the old airfield. The northern side is given over to a car-boot sale each Sunday. The western side, across the B1347 is the microlight airfield. This is the only part of the East Fortune airfield that can now handle aircraft, and they can be no larger than a microlight. The east side of the old airfield is now used as a motorcycle racing circuit, and is home to the Melville Motor Club.