Archive for June, 2014

Biggles and Chums

Saturday, June 21st, 2014

Biggles and chums

First World War watercolours and works on paper by Captain W.E. Johns and his contemporaries

Exhibition dates: Open now – 4th January 2015

Location: RAF Museum London

Admission: FREE

The Flying Services – Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service – played a very significant part in the Great War.

For the first time the fighting extended into the air above the battlefield, and this space became vital for reconnaissance of the enemy’s positions and intentions.

At sea, aeroplanes and airships were able to see far over the horizon visible from a warship, as well as spotting for submarine raiders around Great Britain’s coasts. Both sides tried to stop each other taking advantage of this over-view, and hence aerial fighting developed.

The Museum’s art exhibition will feature works on paper never exhibited before, all of them produced during or immediately after the First World War.

Aeroplanes, heroic actions, the new operational procedures of air warfare and portraits of the young men who flew, will be on display alongside parts of Richthofen’s Fokker Triplane and memorials to heroic airmen.

Andrew Cormack, the Keeper of Fine Art said ” … the exhibition has provided an opportunity to show some wonderful paintings, drawings, prints and watercolours which show the aeroplanes and the personnel of the Air Services at work, as well as some remarkable sculpture, all of it from the Museum’s own collection …”

Biggles and Chums is supported by BAE Systems and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Great War Commemorative Exhibition heads to Cosford

Sunday, June 15th, 2014

Great War Exhibition

On display 15th June until 18th July 2014

FREE admission

The Great War Commemorative Touring Exhibition will be heading to the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford this month as part of a year-long tour of the country.

The exhibition consists of two bodies of work of various media in which the artist’s hope to slow the clouding memories of World War One and in this way, pay their respect to those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

This collection of work is brought to you by the Cheshire Artist Network, an organisation of over fifty professional visual artists who live and work in Cheshire. The network was founded over 10 years ago and their aim is to expand the opportunities for artists to develop their practice, as well as encouraging greater public appreciation and enjoyment of the visual arts.

During the opening week, there will be a lecture on the Art of War taking place on Thursday 19th June between 7.00-9.00pm. The lecture is free of charge and anyone wishing to attend is asked to register their interest in advance as places are limited, please email: or call the Museum on 01902 376200.

The Great War Commemorative Exhibition will travel the country during 2014 and will be on display at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford from Sunday 15th June to Friday 18th July 2014 in the Museum’s temporary exhibition gallery in Hangar 1. Entry to the Museum and to view the exhibition is free of charge.

For more information on The Great War Commemorative Exhibition and the wide range of exhibits on display at the Museum please visit or call 01902 376200.

Sea Vixen Boosts Air Days Carrier Aviation Celebrations

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

Sea Vixen

The world’s only flying de Havilland Sea Vixen post-war naval strike fighter will be a special part of RNAS Yeovilton Air Day 2014’s ‘Carrier Aviation’ theme. Its appearance in this year’s flying display will be one of the most eagerly anticipated performances in recent years.

Closely following HMS Queen Elizabeth’s 4 July naming ceremony, Air Day 2014 celebrates the role played by airborne assets deployed at sea since aviation’s inception. The Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers will redefine this capability when, from 2017 onwards, they start to enter service but, more than 50 years ago, it was the mighty Sea Vixen which spearheaded the Royal Navy’s sea-deployed airpower.

An all-weather fleet air defence fighter, the twin-engine, twin-boomed de Havilland Sea Vixen entered Royal Navy service in 1959. It was the biggest and heaviest British designed type to operate from aircraft carriers but, now, the uniquely airworthy Sea Vixen FAW2 XP924 is the largest and weightiest classic jet fighter flying anywhere in Europe.

Restored to flight in the late-1990s, with its futuristic lines and thunderous displays, the aircraft has been thrilling Air Day’s audiences for many years, recalling the times when Sea Vixens were based at RNAS Yeovilton. XP924 currently wears the colours of 899 Naval Air Squadron, replicating its exact look when it was based here during its former Fleet Air Arm service days.

Tickets for Air Day can be booked online at at the discounted advance rates or by calling 08445 781 781.

Sir Peter Jackson Curates Film Season at RAF Museum

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

Peter Jackson at RAF museum

Sir Peter Jackson, the Oscar TM winning director, responsible for Hollywood Blockbusters ‘King Kong’, ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ has curated a First World War film season of films for the Royal Air Force Museum London. This season will run from 10th to 13th of July with the Museum showing a classic First World War film each evening.

Each film will be screened against the backdrop of the museum’s Historic Hangars, with members of the public able to explore the venue before each screening.

Museum doors open at 6:30 pm which each film starting at either 7:30pm or 8:00pm.

‘Crossing the Line’

Before each main feature, the Museum will be screening a new short film by Sir Peter Jackson ‘Crossing the Line’, which has never been screened in the United Kingdom. A short film with no dialogue written and directed by Sir Peter Jackson. The story centres, a young infantryman and a pilot about to go into battle. Both have comforting reminders of home. As the battle unfolds, the story follows their fate and that of their personal mementoes.

10th July – ‘Beneath Hill 60′: The extraordinary true story of Oliver Woodward. It’s 1916 and Woodward must tear himself from his new young love to go to the mud and carnage of the Western Front. Deep beneath the German lines. Woodward and his secret platoon of Australian tunnellers fight to defend a leaking, labyrinthine tunnel system packed with enough high explosives to change the course of the War.

11th July – ‘Lawrence of Arabia’: Sir David Lean’s emotive epic. The story opens with the death of Lawrence in a motorcycle accident in Dorset at the age of 46, then flashbacks to recount his adventures: as a young intelligence officer in Cairo in 1916, he is given leave to investigate the progress of the Arab revolt against the Turks in World War I.

12th July – ‘Paths of Glory’: Stanley Kubrick in top form. The futility and irony of the war in the trenches in the First World War is shown as a unit commander in the French army must deal with the mutiny of his men and a glory-seeking general after part of his force falls back under fire in an impossible attack.

13th July – ‘The Blue Max’: Starring George Peppard and Ursula Andress. The tactics of a German fighter pilot offend his aristocratic comrades but win him his country’s most honoured medal, the Blue Max. The General finds him useful as a hero even though his wife also finds him useful as a love object. In the end the General arranges for him to test-fly an untried fighter.

For each film he has also written a short critique, explaining how each film has influenced his own love of film-making and epic storytelling. Tickets for each film retail at £15.00 each, plus 50p booking fee, and are strictly limited to 149 people per show. They may be purchased now through the museum’s website, Like all best cinematic experiences a selection of alcoholic beverages and snacks will also be able to be purchased on each night from the museum’s Wessex Café.

Lucy Woodbridge, RAF Museum Events Manager:
“The museum’s film screenings are a unique experience for any film lover – can you ever say that you’d sat underneath a WW2 bomber and watched your favourite film? This experience will be even more special thanks to Sir Peter Jackson’s contributions – I am confident that all participants will enjoy their evening and don’t forget all the profits from each evening go to the upkeep of our world beating aircraft collection.”

So if you love film and would like to enjoy one of your favourites in a unique venue why not spend an evening sipping a Spitfire Beer or cold drink whilst watching one of the Greats play out on a silver screen surrounded by historic aircraft. We’ll even throw in the car-parking for free.

Vulcan In Full Effect At Bournemouth

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

It’s the news everyone has been waiting to hear – Air Festival organisers have confirmed the Avro Vulcan XH558 will be bringing its awesome roar to Bournemouth this August. 

Thanks to a collective effort by Merley House, Vulcan to Bournemouth and Vulcan enthusiast Stephen Young Lord of Westbury and Waxham, the only airworthy example of the classic Cold War bomber has been funded for a single appearance on Saturday 30th August.

Maggie Keet, Bournemouth Vulcan to the Sky Trust said: ‘Seeing the magnificent Vulcan fly is a unique experience. As a representative of Vulcan to Bournemouth I’m so pleased it can now be enjoyed by spectators at the Bournemouth Air Festival once again.’

Councillor Lawrence Williams, Tourism Portfolio Holder, commented: ‘We’re extremely grateful to all those who helped to raise the funds to showcase the spectacular Vulcan XH558 at this year’s Air Festival. It’s an exceptional aircraft and I know many people, like me, will be looking forward to seeing it gracefully glide through Bournemouth’s skies.’

The iconic Vulcan has been a much-loved regular aircraft at the Air Festival since its first appearance in 2009, amazing the hundreds of thousands of people along the packed event arena with its size, roar and sheer presence.

Dr Robert Pleming, Chief Executive of the Vulcan to the Sky Trust said; “We are absolutely delighted that the Vulcan is returning once again to the beautiful venue of Bournemouth, particularly so because it is one of the premier seaside resorts in the UK, in addition to being one of our favourite display venues and an excellent backdrop for an appearance by this iconic aircraft. In the past we have experienced some technical difficulties which have sadly precluded us appearing in the Festival so we are really looking forward to having the opportunity to thrill and inspire the huge crowds that will undoubtedly come along to this superb event.”

For more information visit

Airshow – magnificent – but will there be another like it?

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

ALTHOUGH last weekend’s Folkestone Airshow attracted record crowds, organiser Open Air Promotions Ltd says that the event did not reach its revenue target and the future of the show is being evaluated ‘very carefully’.

“We promised that Folkestone Airshow 2014 would be the biggest and best yet – and everyone agrees that we delivered two days of aerial spectacle and ground events magnificently”, says project director Yvonne Holder. “But, sadly, income did not match the high costs of staging this quality event and at the same provide – as was planned – a sound financial platform for future shows.

“As a consequence, we are considering very carefully whether a show on this year’s scale and based on sponsorships, donations and public generosity is viable.It may be some time before decisions can be made.

“But let not this take anything away from the fact that the show attracted and gave pleasure to scores of thousands of visitors and residents. The many, many messages of thanks we are receiving is evidence of that. We reckon that attendance was in the region 190,000, with consequent benefits for shops, restaurants, bars, accommodation and entertainment providers.

“We thank everyone who helped to make it such a wonderful weekend – people behind the scenes as well as those who spectators saw in action. Even the weather played fair”.

The Dornier Do 17 one year on…

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Dornier DO17

Tuesday 10th June 2014 will mark the first anniversary of the moment the world’s last surviving Dornier Do 17 was successfully lifted from the bottom of the Dover Straits. The breath taking moment the aircraft surfaced from the water was captured live on TV and sparked interest from around the globe.

Just five days later on the 15th June, the Dornier was transported from Ramsgate, Kent, to the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford, Shropshire and placed inside purpose built hydration tunnels. Here, the Dornier has been systematically sprayed with a low concentration citric acid based solution to arrest the damaging effects of nearly seventy years on the seabed. This process has helped to soften up and remove marine accretions, allowing direct access to the airframe structure and the subsequent neutralisation of corrosion impurities.

During the first stage of the aircrafts conservation, the Museum’s team of skilled Apprentices have worked tirelessly at gently removing marine growth from the fuselage with the use of plastic scrapers. Many of the aircrafts smaller components have been worked on by the RAF Museum’s Apprentices and volunteers, with several items now on display at the Museum’s Cosford and London sites.

Significant work has taken place in recent months on the airframe’s major assemblies. The forward fuselage has been de-riveted and separated from the tail boom, the latter section having suffered major damage during its period on the seabed. The separation of these two sections has enabled the conservation team to focus effort on the forward fuselage interior and this is progressing well. The spraying process has also proved effective on the propellers and both units will shortly be placed on purpose built stands in readiness for the next stage of their conservation.

The work undertaken on the Dornier so far hasn’t been without its difficulties. The hydration tunnels require daily maintenance in order to keep the spraying system operational. During the early phases of the project marine accretions, broken down by the citric acid based solution, began to clog up the filter system. The agar gel produced by the debris also caused difficulties and as a result, the filtration system was upgraded which counteracted the problem and improved the Museum’s ability to keep the system operating. Professor Mary Ryan from Imperial College London continues to offer guidance at each stage of the conservation process and has worked closely with the Museum from the project’s inception.

Darren Priday, Conservation Centre Manager at RAF Museum Cosford says:

“It has been a challenging year but the project has provided us with a lot of new information and we have learnt a lot about this process. It is long and tedious work but in the end the results will be there for all to see when the Dornier eventually goes on display at the RAF Museum London.”

Ian Thirsk, Head of Collections at RAF Museum says:

“Over the past twelve months the RAF Museum has made tremendous strides with the conservation of this unique aircraft. As the last surviving example of its type, the Dornier 17 will make a hugely significant addition to our German aircraft collection at Hendon and help us to communicate the wider story of the Battle of Britain to our audience”.

Visitors to the RAF Museum Cosford are able to view the Dornier and watch the process through viewing panels in the tunnels. For visitors wishing to gain even closer access to the aircraft, volunteers from the Museum’s Aerospace Museum Society will be working on Dornier components every Tuesday and Thursday between 10:30am and 3:00pm in the Museum’s Test Flight Hangar. It is a great opportunity for aviation fans to get close to this historic aircraft and to ask the volunteers questions about the vital work they are carrying out.

The Dornier Do17 Interpretation Zone, located next to the Dornier hydration tunnels and supported by, allows visitors to the Museum to explore the background of this legendary aircraft and tells the story of its recovery and the conservation process. Multi-media content includes archive footage of the aircraft in action and a film of the specialised recovery operation which took place in June 2013.

Admission to the Museum and viewing the Dornier is FREE of charge. Anyone wishing to donate towards the conservation of the aircraft can do so online via the Museum website For more information please call the Museum on 01902 376200.

Days to go until Cockpit Fest

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

Newark Air Museum Cockpit Fest

Cockpit-Fest at Newark Air Museum

Preparations for this year’s Cockpit-Fest are well underway at Newark Air Museum’s site in eastern Nottinghamshire; close to the border with Lincolnshire

Newark Air Museum is a registered charity located on part of the former site of RAF Winthorpe and its two day Cockpit-Fest event attracts exhibitors from across the UK and Europe, to sample what one former-aviation magazine editor calls “grass roots aircraft preservation”.

From its humble beginnings, when a few like-minded enthusiasts first displayed one or two aircraft cockpit sections at the museum; Cockpit-Fest now regularly attracts, many more visiting cockpits and associated displays. This year twenty-two (22) visiting cockpits are already booked to attend. It has also developed a word to describe the participants – ‘Cockpiteers’; many of whom have lovingly rebuilt and restored these projects at home, Cockpit-Fest giving them the chance to display them in public.

The event is supported by a range of organisations and individuals; with the public being encouraged to have a say in deciding, which is the best cockpit by voting on their favourite display and from these results prizes are awarded.

Cockpit-Fest also attracts other visiting displays like the Raptor Foundation with its owls; local history / archaeological groups; military re-enactors; book launches; and even more aviation related displays such as clothing and historical artefacts. As an added bonus this year’s event has flypasts by aircraft from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight on both days; plus the CGI Lancaster display from Aviation Heritage Lincolnshire.

Running alongside Cockpit-Fest is an Aeroboot aviation and avionics sale, which allows Cockpiteers and the public to search out those aviation artefacts, books and models.

This year’s event takes place on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th June; and full details can be found on the News & Information page of the museum website at

Belgian Display Approved And Ready To Go

Friday, June 6th, 2014

The organisers of RAF Cosford Air show have confirmed that the Belgian Red Devils display team have this afternoon got the stamp of approval from the show’s Flying Control Committee. The Red Devils fly four SF.260M training aircraft and bring the number of display teams at this years’ show to four.

The aircraft have an exciting red paint scheme featuring the Belgian flag on the aircraft underside and their tight aerobatic display is particularly well suited to Cosford. This will be one of only two UK performances by the team this year. Air Show spokesman Group Captain Mark Manwaring who is Chairman of the show’s Flying Control Committee said “This is a fantastic display with some very exciting manoeuvres. As this is their first UK display this season it fell to us to ensure it adheres to the strict rules applied to UK air display.”

Other aircraft appearing at the show as part of the 5 ½ hour flying display include the Red Arrows, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the Blades. The ground attractions include an arena featuring the Field Gun teams and the RAF Combined Pipes and Drums as well as a craft hangar and a wide display of other attractions.

Tickets to the show are no longer available online or via the phone line, but can be purchased at the advance ticket price of £20 per adult from the RAF Museum in Cosford, the Midland Air Museum in Coventry, Tourist Information Centres across the Midlands, selected branches of Midcounties Co-operative and Arriva Trains Wales for combined travel and admission. Tickets can also be purchased at the gate at £25 per adult (subject to availability). There’s FREE car parking and FREE admission for all under-16s accompanied by an adult.

D-Day Tribute At Air Day

Friday, June 6th, 2014

BBMF Dakota by Paul Johnson

Aircraft linked to the D-Day 70 commemoration, both old and new, will take part in this year’s RNAS Yeovilton Air Day flying and static displays on Saturday 26 July. While 6 June is the actual anniversary date, Air Day’s timely inclusions will help extend the tributes well into the summer as the nation reflects back on the Normandy landings of 70 years ago.

The twin-engine Douglas C-47 Skytrain/Dakota transport aircraft was deeply involved in D-Day, towing assault gliders and dropping paratroopers into the theatre of action. It is perhaps the aircraft type most associated with D-Day and an example will take part in the flying display courtesy of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. The Dakota III will be making its first appearance at the show wearing No 233 Squadron RAF colours, complete with the famous black and white D-Day stripes adopted by Allied aircraft to distinguish them from those used by enemy forces.

The Skytrain was hugely successful in its transport role; a distinction applicable in the modern age to the Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules. An RAF Hercules will be on the ground at Air Day providing an impressive sight in the static display amongst Royal Navy types past and present, international visitors and other stars. Another RAF contribution is a flypast by a Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 from No 29(R) Squadron, based at RAF Coningsby. This aircraft is expected to be a specially-marked example, complete with D-Day stripes. The scheme mirrors that worn by a WW2-era Hawker Typhoon in June 1944.

Tickets for Air Day can be booked online at at the discounted advance rates or by calling 08445 781 781.

Additional Information

• Advance Ticket Prices: Adult £20, Child (5-15 yrs inc) £6, Child (Under 5) Free
• On the Day Ticket Prices: Adult £25, Child (5-15 yrs inc) £12, Child (Under 5) Free.

*image by Paul Johnson