National Museum of Flight

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Last Updated: by Craig Neil.

The National Museum of Flight in East Lothian offers an amazing family day out for anyone with a love of air travel and aircraft. This popular tourist attraction features outdoor displays as well as aircraft hangers full of planes, helicopters, and military equipment. There’s also an on-site café and a gift shop that’s stacked to the rafters with aircraft-themed toys and models.

The National Museum of Flight
Address:East Fortune Airfield,
East Lothian,
EH39 5LF
Opening Hours:Open daily, 10:00 - 17:00
Admission Price:Adult £12.50
Concession £10.50
Child (5–15) £7.50 (under 5s free)
Family (2 adults and 2 children) £33
Parking:Free car park on-site
Contact:0300 123 6789
Facilities:Toilets, baby changing, disabled access, cafe, picnic area, shop

Overview

The National Museum of Flight in East Lothian is the perfect day out for family members of all ages. Situated on an old World War II airfield, the museum comprises several aircraft hangars filled to the brim with restored examples of different types of aircraft from the last hundred years, from the very first days of flight up to the modern age.

Described as containing one of Europe’s finest collections of aircraft, the museum boasts everything from gyrocopters to fighter jets and allows visitors to get close to all the exhibits on show, and even climb aboard and walk around some of them.

While you can’t prod and poke every aircraft in the museum there are quite a few that you can interact with and the curators have gone to great lengths to include lots of science-themed fun/educational exhibits that are genuinely interesting to play with (adults included).

As you’d expect with a military base there are quite a few workshops and engineering bays spread across the site and most of them have been restored to how they would have looked during WWII. There are also several areas where you can learn the mechanics of military aircraft, their history, and the role they played in defending the nation when the base was in full operation over 70 years ago.

National Museum of Flight

The Highlights

1: The National Museum of Flight is a treasure trove for aviation enthusiasts. It houses an impressive collection of aircraft and aviation artefacts that trace the history of flight from its earliest days to the present. Notable exhibits include the supersonic Concorde and WWII’s Spitfire.

2: The museum isn’t just a place to look at planes, it’s also a place where visitors can get hands-on. The interactive exhibits are designed to engage visitors of all ages and include exhibits that allow children to learn about the principles of flight through fun, interactive play.

3: Throughout the year, the National Museum of Flight hosts a variety of events and shows, including an annual airshow which attracts aircraft from around the world for breathtaking aerial displays.

Visiting Tips

1: The museum is in quite a remote location so get your bearings on Google Maps before you head out. If using a sat nav the postcode is EH39 5LF.

2: Become a National Museums of Scotland member to get into this attraction for free. Membership allows free entry to the National Museum of Rural Life as well as 20% off in all museum cafes and 10% off in all museum shops.

3: Looking for more attractions nearby? Visit the Athelstaneford National Flag Centre where you’ll discover the birth of the Saltire or Hailes Castle which is one of the oldest castles in Scotland.

The National Museum of Flight

Tourist Information

Each exhibition showcases a certain stage in aircraft history, with military and civilian aviation being held in the two biggest hangars and the science of flight exhibited in smaller buildings on the airfield.

The National Museums of Scotland, which manage this attraction, has to be commended for the amount of effort they’ve put into the information displays as most visitors are guaranteed to leave having learnt a few things about the science of flight. Kids, especially, will lap this stuff up so if you have a budding mechanic or pilot it has to be one of the best attractions in this part of Scotland.

The grounds are home to several exhibits where you can view some of the biggest aircraft at the museum including the mighty Avro Vulcan – the massive delta-winged aircraft that became synonymous with the Cold War. You won’t believe how big that thing is until you walk underneath it.

But for me, the highlight has to be the fully restored Concorde which sits inside one of the main hangars. If you’ve ever wanted to look inside one of these incredible aircraft then visiting this museum might be your only chance to do so.

As with all the exhibits at the National Museum of Flight, Concorde has a fascinating collection of storyboards and interactive activities that all ages will find interesting, and it’s worth a trip to the hangar just to learn more about this fascinating piece of aviation history.

As well as Concorde you can view a huge Boeing 707, a Hawker Sea Harrier (better known as the Jump Jet), and an F4 Phantom, amongst others. There’s also a café on the site and a gift shop that’s full of enough models and aviation-themed gifts that anyone will find something worth buying. I’ll just say this – if you’re a fan of model aircraft you’d better make sure you have your wallet with you.

If you’re looking to save some money on the entrance costs I recommend you consider buying a National Museums of Scotland membership which allows free return visits to this attraction and three other major Scottish museums for around £45 annually.

The National Museum of Flight

Things to Do

Concorde Experience: The National Museum of Flight is home to one of only 20 Concorde aircraft that were ever built. Visitors can step inside the supersonic passenger jet and experience the luxury that was once enjoyed by the wealthy. This interactive exhibition also features displays and information panels that detail the technical aspects of this incredible aircraft.

WWII Trail: Take a walk through wartime history at East Fortune Airfield. Learn about the airfield’s history and how it was utilised by the Royal Air Force during World War II by following the family-friendly WWII trail. Discover how the base was used in 1944 by exploring notable features like the blast shelter and the parachute store.

Explore the Hangars: Discover the captivating history of aviation during the Second World War. The museum’s hangars house a vast collection of military aircraft from the era including the iconic Spitfire and the Messerschmitt. Each exhibit is meticulously preserved and features detailed information about its role in the war.

Shop and cafe: After a busy day exploring the airfield and its many exhibits, unwind at the on-site cafe which serves a range of traditional light lunches and hot drinks, Afterwards, browse the gift shop which sells aviation-themed toys and gifts as well as a large selection of model aircraft.

Attend a Workshop: The museum holds periodic workshops where visitors can learn about the science of flight, aircraft design, the history of aviation and much more besides. These events are interactive and informative, providing a unique learning experience for families to enjoy together.

The National Museum of Flight

Book Tours

Things to Do Nearby

Hailes Castle. Haddington EH41 4PY. 14-minute drive.
A 13th-century castle situated on the banks of the River Tyne. The majority of the castle is roofless but most of the walls are still intact and there are notable features like the brewery, kitchen and great hall to explore. Parking is limited to roadside spaces but entry is free.

Preston Mill and Phantassie Doocot. Preston Road, East Linton EH40 3DS. 11-minute drive.
An attractive historic mill and a 16th-century dovecot that was used to house over 500 pigeons. The mill is open for public viewing but the main attraction for many visitors is the nearby River Tyne which is a haven for otters, kingfishers and herons. There are footpaths that follow the river for several miles.

Athelstaneford National Flag Centre. North Berwick EH39 5BE. 5-minute drive.
Athelstaneford is a small parish village in East Lothian that legend says is the place where a Scottish King founded the Saltire national flag after seeing it pictured in a cloud formation. There is a small museum dedicated to the Saltire behind the church.

Traprain Law. Haddington EH41 4PY. 13-minute drive.
A steep hill that is a well-known landmark in the centre of East Lothian. A 1-mile path from a small car park to the summit offers panoramic views of the area. The summit is a popular picnic spot with locals.

Myreton Motor Museum. Aberlady, Longniddry EH32 0PZ. 12-minute drive.
A small privately-run yet highly-rated motor museum that celebrates automobilia with a collection of cars, bikes, motorcycles and trucks.

Frequently Asked Questions

What planes are at the National Museum of Flight?

The National Museum of Flight is home to a variety of aircraft spanning the history of aviation. Here are some notable exhibits:
Concorde: This supersonic passenger airliner is one of the most iconic aircraft in history. The museum’s Concorde (G-BOAA) was the first one to go into service with British Airways in 1976.
Boeing 707: This was the first successful jet airliner and marked the beginning of the Jet Age.
Spitfire: This British single-seat fighter aircraft was used by the Royal Air Force and other Allied countries during World War II.
Tiger Moth: This 1930s biplane is representative of the type of aircraft used to train pilots during World War II.
Vulcan: This strategic bomber was used by the Royal Air Force during the Cold War.

How long does it take to go around the National Museum of Flight?

Expect to spend around 2-3 hours at the National Museum of Flight, with additional time for visiting the gift shop and café.

Can you take dogs to the Museum of Flight?

Dogs are allowed in the outside areas as long as they are kept on a leash. Dogs are not permitted inside the hangars.

Can I get on board any of the aircraft?

Visitors to the National Museum of Flight can board the Concorde and Boeing 707.

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Craig Neil

Craig Neil is the author, photographer, admin, and pretty much everything else behind Out About Scotland. He lives near Edinburgh and spends his free time exploring Scotland and writing about his experiences. Follow him on Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube.