National Museum of Flight curator, Ian Brown beside a Percival Provost aircraft

National Museum of Flight Conservation Hangar tours offer a unique glimpse behind the scenes

Press images available here. 

The National Museum of Flight at East Fortune is offering visitors a unique opportunity to learn about the work of its aviation conservation team this season, as part of a series of new tours of the Conservation Hangar at the East Lothian attraction.

Much of the Museum’s conservation work takes place behind the sliding doors of this huge Second World War aircraft hangar, built in 1941 when East Fortune was a wartime airbase, and normally closed to the public.  As part of the new tours, visitors can see inside the hangar, hear about the processes involved in conserving and maintaining the collections and view a number of impressive aircraft and objects not currently on general display.

The vast size of the hangar reflects the scale of the objects that the conservation team work on and visitors will learn about the unique challenges that this can present. They will discover how aircraft and objects are prepared to tell a particular story and hear about the detective work that is sometimes required to source decades-old maintenance manuals and spare parts from across the globe. They will also learn about the logistical challenges presented by the size and weight of objects such as the Polaris missile currently housed in the Conservation Hangar whose 12.6 tonne weight requires special rails to prevent it going through the concrete floor.

Visitors will discover how the team maintains the 1963 Avro Vulcan bomber, the 1952 de Havilland Comet and the 1968 British Airways BAC-11 that form part of the Museum’s outdoor aviation displays. Forthcoming work on the Comet’s windows will involve the innovative use of space hoppers to seal the space while restoration takes place.

Objects from the Cold War era can also be viewed during the tour, including the 24m Blue Streak intermediate-range ballistic missile, destined to be part of the UK’s nuclear deterrent programme but cancelled before it went into operation, and an air-to-surface Blue Steel missile. A 1966 Buccaneer jet designed to land on an aircraft carrier currently sits in the hangar with its huge wings folded like a bird’s. The front section of an imposing Nimrod patrol aircraft is also on view, along with a 1952 Vickers Viscount, the world’s first turboprop jet airliner with an interior that features an elasticated string hat rack instead of overhead lockers.

Steve McLean, General Manager at the National Museum of Flight, said:

The new tours offer a unique insight into the specialised work carried out by our conservation team as they preserve and maintain our collections and help us to tell the story of flight and our rich aviation heritage. We’re looking forward to sharing this with visitors and to showing them some of the amazing aircraft and objects not normally on display, each of which has a remarkable history and provides a fascinating way to learn about our past.”

Spaces on the National Museum of Flight’s Conservation Hangar tours are limited and can be booked via the National Museums Scotland website or on-site (subject to availability).

The Museum is open seven days a week from 10am until 5pm.

Book in advance to save.

Adult tickets from £13, National Museums Scotland Members free.

15% off when you book as a family.

Tickets can be booked online at

Further information and images from: Karen Finlay, Artisan PR on 07803 945043 or

Notes to editors

  1. National Museums Scotland is one of the leading museum groups in the UK and Europe and it looks after collections of national and international importance. The organisation provides loans, partnerships, research and training in Scotland and internationally. Our individual museums are the National Museum of Scotland, the National Museum of Flight, the National Museum of Rural Life and the National War Museum. The National Museums Collection Centre in Edinburgh houses conservation and research facilities as well as collections not currently on display.

Twitter: @NtlMuseumsScot


Instagram: @NationalMuseumsScotland


  1. Bheireadh Oifis nam Meadhanan eadar-theangachadh Gàidhlig den bhrath-naidheachd seachad do bhuidhinn mheadhanan bharantaichte. Cuiribh fios do dh'Oifis nam Meadhanan airson bruidhinn air cinn-latha freagarrach.