Archive for April, 2012

Comet pilot unveils anniversary exhibition

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Wednesday 2nd May 2012


On the 2nd May 1952 a BOAC de Havilland Comet 1 carried 36 passengers on the first leg of a journey from London to Johannesburg on what was the first fare paying passenger flight in a Jet Airliner. To mark the 60th anniversary of this historic flight, the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford will be unveiling a specially commissioned temporary exhibition which charts the Comets story and includes previously unseen archive film footage. The exhibition will be displayed alongside the Museum’s Comet, the only complete Comet 1 remaining anywhere in the world.

The exhibition includes display cases with a collection of artefacts including photos, log books and airline memorabilia. In addition to this information, display boards highlight key facts and figures on the Comets checkered history plus archive film footage shows Comets during their route proving flights in Africa during 1951/52.

The exhibition will be unveiled on Wednesday 2nd May by Comet pilot George Aird, now aged 84. As a test pilot for de Havilland, the manufacturers of the Comet, George flew the Museum’s Comet extensively throughout the 1960s. Although George never flew the Comet for an airline, he was a Captain of the Museum’s example when it was used as a flying laboratory, carrying scientists and test equipment in its cabin during guided missile tests. George flew the Museum’s Comet on its final flight to RAF Shawbury in 1968, for storage for the RAF Museum.

Also attending on the day is Comet 4 Air Stewardess Judy Lerrigo who will be bringing along her uniform and original flight plans and offering a perspective on what it was like to work within the passenger cabin of a Comet.

In the Early 1950’s the Comet was a pioneering aircraft that could fly higher, faster and further than any other commercial aircraft of its time. When the de Havilland Comet entered service with BOAC as the first commercial jet airliner, it marked a new era in civil aviation and left other aircraft manufacturers years behind. The new aircraft could carry 36 passengers at a cruising speed of 720 km/h (450 mph) over a distance of 4000 km (2500 miles). BOAC became the envy of world airlines by operating the first jet fleet.

After only eighteen months of service two aircraft disappeared within three months of each other. The Secretary of State for Civil Aviation ordered a full investigation into the causes of the disappearances. One part of the investigation examined cabin pressurisation. Through the water tank testing of another ex-BOAC Comet, and the reconstruction of the recovered remains of one of the crashed aircraft, evidence revealed that metal fatigue in the pressure cabin was the cause of the accidents.

Once this was known the Comet was redesigned and went on to serve as a transport aircraft with the RAF and as a commercial airliner in its larger Comet 4 guise, flying around the world with various airlines until the late 1970s.

The Comet 60th anniversary exhibition will be on display from Wednesday 2nd May to Monday 11th June 2012 in the Museum’s Hangar 1. The Museum is open daily from 10am to 6pm and admission is free of charge. For more information on the exhibition or the Museum please call 01902 376200 or visit

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HM The Queen To Visit RAF Museum Cosford

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

HM The Queen is coming to Shropshire in July as part of her Diamond Jubilee Tour – and everyone in the county is invited. Along with His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, The Queen is due to attend the spectacular Diamond Jubilee event at RAF Cosford and The Royal Air Force Museum on 12th July, when the county stages its celebration of “60 Glorious Years”.

The Lord-Lieutenant, Her Majesty’s representative in Shropshire, is delighted that The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh are able to attend Shropshire’s day. Mr Algernon Heber-Percy said,

“We hope that this will be one of the most memorable days Shropshire can remember. This will be a unique opportunity for the County to thank Her Majesty for her exceptional dedication and leadership, which she has given us all over the last 60 years.”

The “Brightest and Best” of the County’s industrial, commercial and agricultural expertise will be showcased. The significant achievements that these sectors have made to the local and national economy throughout The Queen’s reign will be displayed in a special exciting indoor exhibition. The event will also highlight numerous voluntary and charitable organisations in Shropshire giving them the opportunity to demonstrate their outstanding achievements. A spectacular moving Pageant will be taking place involving approximately 5000 school children/students and numerous organisations from across Shropshire. The Pageant will reflect the last 60 years of Her Majesty’s reign from a Shropshire perspective, including the emergence and growth of Telford and Wrekin.

Musical groups and artists from across the county will be performing on stage throughout the day. It is hoped that thousands of people will attend this free event, to enjoy a day filled with activities, fun and partying but without doubt, the highlight of the event will be the presence of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh. Enjoy the magnificent Shropshire food and drink available to purchase on the day and don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity.

The Lord-Lieutenant is Chairman of the organising team with his deputies and local experts heading up various activities. If you would like to attend this event you will need to register for your free ticket on the official website,

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Enjoy a taste of the past at Flying Legends new Vintage

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Flying Legends encapsulates nostalgic charm with its evocative combination of iconic flying aircraft, period music and immaculately- attired Second World War living history groups. At this year’s Flying Legends (Saturday 30 June and Sunday 1 July) we’re taking the period feel further with the new Vintage Village, where you can relax in 1940s comfort and watch the world go by.

Situated on the historic hangar base next to Wing Co Joe’s Café, the Vintage Village offers everything you could want for a stylish rendezvous. Enjoy a glass of fizz or two from the Prosecco Bar and listen to the romantic sounds of Harry and Edna’s Revolution 78. These dapper DJs will be playing 1930s and 1940s music in all its original atmospheric splendour on period gramophones.

The Manhattan Dolls make a welcome return after going down a stormat last year’s Flying Legends. This glamorous New York-based Andrews Sisters-style group will be performing those instantly-recognisable hits of the thirties and forties in their own inimitable style.

Enjoy a unique living history experience aboard the Home Front Bus. This classic double-decker bus contains detailed reconstructions of a 1940s living room, a wartime shop, a bombed-out street and an air raid shelter. Containing period features and artefacts, the Home Front Bus replicates the sights, sounds and smells of the Home Front – an authentic trip back in time.

Complete your vintage experience by ordering an IWM Duxford Picnic Hamper. Soak up the atmosphere in the Vintage Village as you enjoy a perfect ration-free picnic lunch for two, including the Duxford sausage roll, homemade sandwiches, hand-cut crisps, seasonal salad, a refreshing Pimms summer berry jelly and traditional elderflower presse, all served in a disposable hamper including cutlery, plates and glasses.

The IWM Duxford Picnic Hamper for two costs £21. To order, please email or call 01223 497 501. Please give a minimum of three days notice for your picnic order. Picnic orders are collected from Wing Co Joe’s Café on the day.

Join us in the Vintage Village for some forties fun as we recreate the days when ladies were glamorous, gentlemen were dapper and we may have been at war, but we certainly knew how to have a jolly good knees up!

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Cockpits open for Museums at Night

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

19th May 2012

6.00pm – 8.30pm

£10.00 per person

(Open cockpits and aircraft may be subject to change)

Tickets are now on sale for the ever popular ‘Open Cockpits Evening’ at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford. The evening will commence at 6pm on Saturday 19th May. A total of 16 aircraft will be available for close viewing on the night: including transport aircraft, jet fighters plus unique research airframes. Exclusively for this evening the Museum will be opening up one of its latest arrivals, weather permitting, the Hercules – a military transport aircraft.

The evening in May will be the third time the Museum has held this event which allows rare access to the interiors of some of the world’s most historic and iconic aircraft. Visitors will be able to get a feel for what it was like to fly these much loved machines: aircraft such as the unique Bristol 188, a twin engined stainless steel supersonic research monoplane designed to investigate the effects of heat on aircraft structures at very high speeds. Or the F-111 an American twin engine, two seat, multi-purpose attack aircraft which not only became the first variable-geometry combat aircraft to enter service but also saw action during the Vietnam War.

Other major highlights for aviation enthusiasts include the opportunity to see inside the Museum’s Tornado P02, one of the prototypes of the RAF’s twin-engined, two-seat ground attack jet fighter that saw extensive action during the first Gulf War. Visitors will also be able to examine the interior of the Museum’s Sikorsky MH-53 long range combat search and rescue helicopter, a helicopter that saw conflict in various arenas of war from Vietnam to Afghanistan as part of the United States of America Air Force.

Other aircraft accessible to visitors on this evening will include the Pembroke, JU52, Jaguar and the Phantom. In addition to this, visitors will have exclusive after hours access to the Museum which displays over 70 aircraft.

RAF Museum Cosford Assistant Curator, Clare Carr says:
“This Open Cockpits Evening allows visitors to have close up access to Cold War warriors such as the F-111 and MiG21 as well as work horses such as the Hercules and Belfast. The evening is a must for any aviation fan.”

Cosford’s ‘Open Cockpits Evening’ is part of the Museums at Night, an annual international event where hundreds of museums, galleries, libraries, archives and heritage sites across Europe open their doors to the public for special after hours events. This evening will commence from 6.00pm and finish at 8.30pm. Numbers onto the Museum site will be strictly limited to only 300 people, to enable enthusiasts to spend as much time as possible examining these wondrous aircraft. Admission is by advance ticket only. Organisers are advising, given the popularity of previous ‘Open Cockpit Evenings’ to purchase your tickets as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. Tickets cost £10.00 per person and are now on sale at the Museum. Minimum height restrictions of 1.07 metres will apply. Parking charges are included in the ticket price.

For further information on the ‘Open Cockpit Evening’ or to purchase tickets over the phone, please contact the Museum on 01902 376200. Visit for information on the Museum and other events. Please note: Open cockpits and aircraft available for close viewing may be subject to change.

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Rare Jet set to be Tsar of the Show

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

A state-of-the-art combat jet used to train Russian Air Force fighter pilots will give a rarely-seen demonstration of its light attack capabilities at this summer’s Royal International Air Tattoo.

The display will be the first time anyone outside of Russia has seen a display by the Yak-130 ‘Mitten’ in its light attack configuration with a full complement of weapons.

The Yak-130, which will come from the Irkut Corporation based in Moscow, is a two-seat, subsonic jet trainer/light attack aircraft. It entered service with the Russian Air Force in 2010. The aircraft can replicate the characteristics of the latest generation fighters and carries a variety of air-to-air and air-to-ground weaponry.

The participation of the Yak-130 in July’s display cements the Air Tattoo’s reputation for showcasing aircraft from Russia, which began in 1992 when a Su-27P ‘Flanker’ 595 and Tu-134 appeared at Boscombe Down followed, in 1993, by two Mig-29s and the Tu-95MS ‘Bear’ at RAF Fairford.

The first of 55 Yak-130s ordered by the Russian Defence Ministry entered service with the Russian Air Force in 2010. RuAF Commander-in-Chief Col Gen Alexander Zelin announced in March that a new aerobatics team flying Yak-130s would be created by 2015.

Air Tattoo spokesman Richard Arquati said: “To have such a rare Russian aircraft display is quite a coup and simply adds to what is already shaping up to be quite a spectacular display. We know how much aircraft enthusiasts enjoy seeing Russian aircraft – and Russian-built aircraft – at Fairford and we work hard to achieve this. This year’s Air Tattoo already has an abundance of aviation riches but now it seems the whole world wants to be at Fairford this July!”

This year’s Air Tattoo will see organisers join with the RAF to stage special aerial tributes celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. For further details, visit or call 0800 107 1940. All accompanied under-16s go free. Free parking.

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Brick by Brick – Rebuilding Our Past

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

BBC2, 9pm Friday 6th April

The Grahame-White Watch Office at The Royal Air Force Musem London is the subject of an hour long documentary on BBC2 this Friday.

On Good Friday at 9pm BBC2 will be showcasing the Royal Air Force Museum’s Grahame-White Watch Office Restoration Project in a documentary that explores the building’s dismantling brick by brick from its original site, the salvaging of its original materials, its relocation to the Museum’s site and its final restoration to its full 1915 glory. A task made all the more difficult by the 25 years of vandalism and decay the building suffered since closing to the public in the mid 1980s.

During the course of this restoration process architectural engineer Charlie Luxton will guide viewers through this vast and complex three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle as it is pieced back together; whilst exploring the traditional crafts necessary to restore the dilapidated Grahame-White Watch Office; and discovering the challenges that the building’s original construction created for the restoration team. At times, things are not quite what they seem, and rather than correcting the mistakes of the past both architects and the restoration team adhere to the original drawings and errors to reconstruct the building as it actually was during its hey-day.

At the same time, architectural historian Dan Cruickshank investigates the building’s history, discovering the incredible stories it has to tell of the people who worked, slept, played in its environs.

People such as Richard Thomas Gates, the Grahame-White factory’s first manager and the first serving pilot to die defending London from aerial attack during the First World War ; female workers such as Miss Pilkington for whom working at the factory was an escape from the day to day drudgery of unskilled labour offered to women at the time; and of Claude Grahame-White, a man very nearly written out of the pages of history by an Officer and Upper Class who showed him little or no respect for his achievements in the defence of the realm and his plans to turn Hendon into a major aviation hub, with the site that the Royal Air Force Museum currently occupies becoming the world’s first international airport.

This programme is the first in a series of three that explores the incredible stories of historic buildings as they are rescued from the bulldozers and meticulously resurrected in completely new locations; and will be broadcast on Friday 6th of April at 9pm on BBC2. After viewing the programme members of the public are welcome to examine the work of the restoration team for themselves.

The Claude Grahame-White Watch Office and Hangar is open daily to the public from 10am to 6pm and like the rest of the Royal Air Force Museum site is free for members of the public to visit. For further details about the restoration project, and the aircraft of the Grahame-White Watch Office and Hangar, please visit


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Photographers set to see Red

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

This year entrants in the Airscene 2013 Airshow Calendar Competition will really have a chance to impress this year.

Red Arrows team photographer Corporal Graham Taylor will be picking through those entries which make the shortlist and will award points to his favourite 12 entries.

Airscene is pleased to welcome Graham on board, and feels this will set the bar a little higher.

Before there is a mad rush of Red Arrows entries… please bear in mind that there will be no special treatment (and you also have another 7 judges to please).

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First flying displays announced for The Jubilee Air Show

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

IWM Duxford will be celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in style at The Jubilee Air Show on Sunday 27 May.A stunning aerial display will feature historic and contemporary aircraft from the past 60 years and beyond performing in the skies over IWM Duxford.

Flying displays confirmed to date feature historic and contemporary aircraft fromthe Royal Air Force, including the legendary Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Avro Lancaster, Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire; Eurofighter Typhoon from No.6 Squadron RAF Leuchars; BAE Systems Hawk from No.208 Squadron, RAF Valley; Embraer Tucano from No.72 Squadron, RAF Linton-on-Ouse; Beechcraft King Air from No.45 Squadron, RAF Cranwell and the Grob 115E Tutor from No.115 Squadron, RAF Cranwell.

The Royal Navy is represented by a solo Lynx helicopter display by No.815 Naval Air Squadron from Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton.

Vintage aircraft flying at this celebratory air show include two glorious 1930s Hawker Nimrod single-seat biplanes; the beautiful and rare Hawker Fury Mark I biplane; two North American Harvards, single-engine trainer aircraft which played a vital role in training fighter pilots during the Second World War; three examples of the iconic Spitfire, synonymous with IWM Duxford’s heritage; the famous B-17 Flying Fortress Sally B; de Havilland Dragon Rapide and the rip-roaring North American F-86 Sabre.

Also displaying is the Gloster Meteor T7 from Air Atlantique, which was the star of the show at the Autumn Air Show 2011.

On the ground, there will be fun-packed activities for all the family to enjoy and the whole museum is open to explore.

To mark 60 years of the Queen’s reign, IWM Duxford is offering senior visitors (aged 60 plus) a free ticket for The Jubilee Air Show when a full price adult or senior ticket is purchased. This offer is on advance ticket purchases only; it cannot be used on the day of the event.

Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling the Box Office on 01223 499 353. The Box Office is open from Monday to Friday from9.30amto 4.30pm.

There is no booking fee but a postage and packing fee applies per transaction.

Advance tickets will be available until:
For overseas postal delivery – 5pm on Friday 11 May
For UK postal delivery – 5pm on Wednesday 16 May

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