Toy Concorde

Seeing Concorde at the Museum of Flight, East Fortune

Last Christmas, Max’s aunt and uncle gave him a very generous gift card for a toy shop, and, a few days after Christmas, we took him along to pick out a toy. (If you’re wondering what on earth this has to do with the Museum of Flight, by the way, bear with me: all will become clear…)

Now, for the few months leading up to this event, Max had largely ignored the vast amount of toys that are crammed into our house in favor of:

a) His beloved Magna-Tiles


b) A selection of cheap plastic “jewels” which he believes to be “treasure” and likes to painstakingly display around the house, normally choosing the most inconvenient place possible.

With this in mind, I was convinced he’d probably pick yet another box of the infernal magnets or something very similar. Instead, we left the store with this:

Max's toy bomber

It’s a toy bomber. A very, very cool one, as you can see.

“This’ll be a 24 hour wonder,” I confidently predicted. “Then we’ll be right back to the Magna-Tiles.”

But no.

A few days after Max’s birthday we went back to the toy store to let him spend his birthday money, and left with an entire squadron of military vehicles. Since then, the collection has grown to include an aircraft carrier, a Chinook helicopter, a military base, and about 50,000 more planes.

Max with his military base

And, well, also nuclear bombs. Which I would have to confess aren’t my favourite toy, all things considered.

It’s the planes he really loves, though, and when we visited our family in Kent last month, Max’s Uncle Niko gave him a book about different types of aircraft. It was Niko’s own book, so it was written for adults, not for children, and I assumed Max wouldn’t get much use out of it. <FORESHADOWING>

Much to my surprise, though, Max pored over that book. He can’t actually read it yet, of course, but, with our help, he was soon possessed of a really quite surprising amount of knowledge about airplanes, and it was clear that we had a full-blown obsession on our hands.

Which brings me – AT LAST – to the museum of flight, in East Fortune, near North Berwick.

The Museum of Flight at East Fortune, Fife

military aircraft museumThe Museum of Flight is located on the site of a former airfield that was used during both World War I and II, and it’s home to a huge collection of both military and commercial aircraft. There is a Harrier Jump Jet. There’s a Vulcan bomber. There’s a Spitfire. And I know all of this purely because Max ran towards each one of them, shouting their names with a level of excitement I haven’t seen since I dropped the tub of Halloween candy by mistake and he assumed it was a free-for-all.

Max and his beloved planes

He also made this face the entire time, which is why there are no “normal” photos of him in this post. Sorry.

The museum has hangars for both military and civil aircraft, and there are also some outdoor exhibits. My favourite was the de Havilland Comet, which was the world’s first commercial passenger jet (Not this exact one, I hasten to add: this one was actually the last of its kind to fly, apparently…), and just a really fascinating little time-capsule to an age where airplanes still had ashtrays on the arm rests and the overhead bins were at roughly my eye level:

Inside the de Havilland Comet

Max, meanwhile, loved the ‘Fantastic Flight’ experience, which has tons of hands-on exhibits where you can learn about the various tests pilots have to pass, plus how planes are built and tested. This absorbed him for so long I actually started to get a bit impatient, because there was one thing I knew he’d love even more, and we’d deliberately saved it for last…

The Concorde Experience at The Museum of Flight

When Max first got his book about planes from his Uncle Niko, there was one plane that interested him above all else, and it was, of course, the Concorde. Which was handy, because the Museum of Flight just so happens to be the final home of Alpha Alpha, the first plane in Concorde’s commercial fleet.

We’d told Max about all of the other things he could expect to see at East Fortune, but we kept the Concorde as a surprise, and oh my God, was it worth it…

Concorde tail The Concorde ExperienceMax seeing Concorde for the first timeThe Concorde Experience at the National Museum of Flight

The look on his face when he walked into the hangar and saw it sitting there was a bit like that moment in The Railway Children where the little girl’s all, “Daddy! My daddy!” except in this case it was, “Concorde! My Concorde!”, and if you don’t think that’s equally emotional then I’m going to assume you don’t have a child who’s obsessed with aircraft…

Me and Max in front of Concorde

To be fair to Max, it IS pretty spectacular. I’d actually visited East Fortune a few years ago, but even though I’d seen the Concorde before, I think I’d forgotten how impressive (and HUGE) it is. Even to someone like me, whose interest in planes revolves mostly around whether or not they’re going to get me to my destination safely, it’s quite a sight, and it makes me wish there were still some of them in operation.

Alpha Alpha may not fly any more, though, but you do get to go inside and walk through it. Here’s Max looking into the cockpit:

the cockpit on Concorde

My main takeaway from this was that, even on Concorde, the toilets were very small, and the seats incredibly close together. I’m imagining the Queen squashed up against someone like Mick Jagger here, with the Beckhams in the row behind, and wouldn’t that have been a sight to see?

Anyway, this was the final stop our trip, although Max did persuade his Gran and Grandad to buy him a toy Concorde in the gift shop, so we’ll be able to remember it forever. Not that we’ll really need to, mind you: I have a funny feeling we’ll be going back sometime soon…

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books by Amber Eve
  • Fi


    There’s a Concorde at the museum at Filton Airfield in Bristol and when we went on board I was surprised at how small and, well, basic, the cabin seemed. I suppose comparing 1970s standards to now is unfair and it was the height of elegance and luxury in its day but it was still underwhelming internally. Externally of course: wow. Concorde used to fly into Leeds-Bradford Airport (ie. right over my house) when I was a child so I had seen it in flight but never up close.

    March 30, 2023
  • Jennifer


    I love everything about this post. Not because I have any particular interest in planes myself but because I thoroughly enjoy a child with an all-consuming interest. It brings back memories of my two children lecturing me about dinosaurs and Star Wars.
    As a side point; the comment form is a little jumbled on my end and has been the last few times I have wanted to comment. For a while there was no submit button, then no space for my name and email and now I can enter my name and email but there isn’t a field for my website even though I can check a box to save it all. Plus, the save box wording straggles through the whole thing. I thought I would just mention it but feel free to ignore me if you knew or if it is a me-only problem.

    March 30, 2023
    • Anneke


      I don’t have kids but this reminded me of the time my dad took me to a museum exhibit on bats! They had a colony of live vampire bats on display and I was so happy to see that.

      May 6, 2023
  • Fiona Brown


    Pictures are amazing. Looks like max was having a great time cxx

    March 30, 2023