Archive for October, 2014

RAF Winthorpe book published

Friday, October 31st, 2014

RAF Winthorpe book

During World War Two Royal Air Force Winthorpe was a major RAF station providing vital training for aircrews destined for No.5 Group bomber squadrons operating in Lincolnshire. A new book is now available about the station in Nottinghamshire, which was located close to the Nottinghamshire/Lincolnshire county border.After several years of detailed research, Colin Savill BA (Hons) has written a new history of RAF Winthorpe. The book has just been published by the Newark (Notts & Lincs) Air Museum, which is located on part of the former RAF Winthorpe airfield site.

The book is entitled RAF Winthorpe – The Story of an Airfield 1939 – 1959 and it is the story of RAF Winthorpe from its beginnings to its demise as an RAF station.

The book (ISBN 978-0-9500341-6-4) is in a softback format; 216 pages (paper weight: 130gsm); with circa 120 black & white photographs and illustrations; and it includes a Foreword by the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford KCB CBE ADC RAF.

Copies of the book are now available to purchase from the Museum Shop and they cost £15.00 each. Anyone wishing to purchase a copy can visit the museum between 10am and 4pm daily and you do not need to pay a museum admission fee if you just wish to shop. Copies are also available by mail order – please check for rates; telephone 01636 707170.

A book signing event will take place in the Museum Shop on Saturday 15th November 2014, between 10am and 3pm when Colin will be on hand to sign copies of the book and to discuss aspects of his research.

New Chief Executive Officer Appointed

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

The Royal Air Force Museum is pleased to announce the appointment of its new Chief Executive Officer: Maggie Appleton MBE.

Maggie Appleton has over twenty years’ experience in the heritage sector. She is passionate about the difference that museums and culture can make to people’s lives and, after beginning her heritage career at the Royal Armouries (when it was based in the Tower of London) she focused her work in community museums, at Stevenage (1991 – 2003) and in Luton (2003 – 2008).

Maggie has led significant heritage initiatives and developments, notably the £6.2million development of Stockwood Discovery Centre which opened in July 2008, and securing the medieval Wenlok Jug for Luton and the nation after it was export stopped in 2006.

Since August 2008, Maggie has been the Chief Executive of Luton Culture, a values-led charity that comprises museums, arts, libraries and community centres. Maggie is currently a Heritage Lottery Fund Committee Member for the East of England and a Board Member for the Museums Association.

In 2012, Maggie Appleton received an MBE for Services to Museums and Heritage.

As CEO she will be responsible for leading the Museum through a major period of transformation in terms of infrastructure, exhibitions and activities which will also cover the period of 2018 which marks the Centenary of the RAF.

Commenting on her appointment as Chief Executive of the RAF Museum, Maggie said:

“I am thrilled to join the RAF Museum’s team in the run up to the RAF’s centenary in 2018. The opportunity to lead a National Museum with collections of international importance telling stories of global significance is a huge privilege.”

Reporting to the Board of Trustees of the Royal Air Force Museum, Maggie will also be an ambassador for the Museum within the local community as well as nationally and internationally and will enhance the visibility, growth of visitor numbers and reputation of the Museum.

Museum Chairman Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Lester Torpy GCB, CBE, DSO said:

“I am delighted that Maggie Appleton is joining the Museum as our new CEO. She brings a wealth of experience from her previous appointment and the Trustees are very much looking forward to her arrival.”

Rare behind the scenes look into aircraft conservation

Monday, October 27th, 2014

RAF Museum apprentice

9-15 November 2014

10:15am – 1:00pm

£5 per person (under 16’s free of charge)

This November, the Sir Michael Beetham Conservation Centre at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford will once again be opening its doors, allowing Museum visitors behind the scenes access to aircraft conservation projects and the chance to speak with the team who make them happen. This rare and exclusive opportunity is for one week only and based on the overwhelming success of previous events, organisers are expecting thousands of visitors to attend.

It’s been almost twelve months since visitors last passed through the doors of the Conservation Centre and what a busy years it’s been…

During the last year, significant progress has been made to one of the centre’s longest running conservation projects, the Handley Page Hampden and regular visitors are sure to be astounded by the developments being made. The Hampden’s tailplane, fin and rudder have been restored, incorporating as much of the original parts and materials as possible. Some sections have been reproduced by Aircraft Technicians and apprentices who worked to the original technical drawings and soon work will commence on the elevator, which will be entirely manufactured on site. The Hampden’s rear fuselage is nearing completion and structural work is taking place inside the tailboom to repair the damaged framework and skins.

The Hampden suffered significant damage when en-route to Murmansk in Russia for convoy defence duties as part of 144 Squadron. It was shot down on 4th September 1942 during its transit flight and three crew members died, although two survived to become prisoners of war (P.O.W’s). The wreckage lay on the Kola Peninsula, Northern Russia until 1989 when it was rediscovered. The RAF Museum acquired the airframe in 1991 and although progress is being made, the aircraft still requires substantial work before going on public display.

Aviation fans and public who have followed the story of the world’s last surviving Dornier Do 17 will know the forward fuselage, engines and propellers have now all moved from the hydration tunnels into the Conservation Centre for treatment. Whilst the wings will remain in the hydration tunnels until later this year, the majority of the aircraft will be on display inside and visitors will be able to get up close to the aircraft for the very first time. Volunteers will also be working on some of the smaller Dornier components during Open Week giving visitors first hand access to the intricate work taking place to conserve this unique aircraft.

Repeat visitors will be able to view the on-going refurbishments of the Vickers Wellington. The structural work to the aircraft wings and flying controls along with the surface finish is now complete and the next stage will see Technicians re fabric the wings. Work will then commence on stripping the internal fuselage to allow for structural work to take place. The Wellington is expected to remain at Cosford for a few more years before eventually going back on display at the RAF Museum London.

Darren Priday, RAF Museum Conservation Centre Manager says:

“It has been a very busy year for the conservation team in particular with the work carried out on the Dornier Do 17 and the Hampden. The last 12 months has also seen a lot of aircraft movements both here at Cosford and at our sister Museum in London in preparation for the ‘First World War in the Air’ exhibition due to open later this year at both sites. We hope visitors will take this opportunity to speak with our team of Aircraft Technicians, Apprentices and Volunteers about the conservation work they carry out on the hundreds of aircraft within the Museum’s collection.”

Admission to the Conservation Centre Open Week is £5.00 per person with proceeds going towards supporting the Museum’s collection (Children under 16 are free and must be accompanied by an adult). The Conservation Centre will open to the public from the 9-15 November 2014 between 10.15am to 1.00pm during Open Week. The Museum’s other hangars will be open from 10am until 5pm, entry is free of charge. For further information, please visit the Museum’s website or call 01902 376200.

Date announced for Culdrose Air Day 2015

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Culdros Air Day

Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose is pleased to announce the date for ‘Air Day’ 2015 – Thursday 30th July.

The annual event, which has become a firm favourite on the Cornish Event Calendar, enables the general public to experience the sights and sounds ‘onboard’ one of the Royal Navy’s helicopter bases, whilst seeing breathtaking flying displays in the skies. It’s the only day of the year when the public can ‘experience the world of Culdrose’ and see what happens behind the security gates.

The Commanding Officer of Culdrose, Captain Mark Garratt said: “Air Day 2014 was a fantastic event, with a record numbers of visitors attending from across Cornwall and beyond. Now that we have set the date for 2015, my team will start to book aircraft for the Air Display and military acts for the arena. We will work hard to make it another day to remember and hope to have some very special visitors in the air and on the ground.”

Captain Mark added: “Our Air Day is quite different from the other Air Shows across the United Kingdom. As one of the few events held within a military establishment, it is often the only opportunity for non-military personnel to come into our world and find out about life in the Armed Forces. It is a day when we invite the general public to meet those serving on frontline Squadrons, learn about our outstanding training facilities, get close to our aircraft and learn about the Operations that we are involved in across the World.”

A list of aircraft participating in the event will be announced next year, however Captain Mark confirmed that: “The Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm will be attending in force to demonstrate the versatility and adaptability of maritime helicopters including the Lynx, the new Merlin and the Sea King. The nimble Hawks of 736 Naval Air Squadron will show off their agility and speed and it will be the last Air Day that the Search and Rescue Sea Kings of 771 Naval Air Squadron will perform. We are also hoping to welcome fast jets, aerobatic display teams, historic jets and veteran aircraft, in particular the Royal Navy Historic Flight.”

Tickets for the event will be on sale in the New Year. More information about the event and a list of display aircraft will be available soon at

Bournemouth Air Festival through to regional awards for Event of the Year

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

Bournemouth’s world-famous Air Festival has been given the prestigious accolade ‘Event of the Year’ at this year’s Dorset Tourism Awards and now qualifies for entry into the South West England Awards.

Holding off competition from other popular Dorset events, Purbeck Folk Festival and Sherborne Abbey Festival, the Air Festival’s record-breaking visitor numbers, significant contribution to the local economy and employment generation were key factors in the nomination. The award was presented at a ceremony last night in Bovington’s Tank Museum with judges citing the Air Festival’s ‘impressive wow factor’ as a key consideration in their deliberations.

Tourism portfolio holder, Councillor Lawrence Williams, said; “We’re thrilled to receive this award in recognition of the hard work and passion that goes into putting on the largest air festival in Europe.
“There are countless people who contribute to the success of the Air Festival, ensuring that it’s much more than just an air show – rather, a unique, world-class event comprising a host of land, sea and air assets, three miles of show ground, pier-to-pier trading stalls and night air entertainment. I’d like to thank our Festival Makers in particular who give up their time with dedication and enthusiasm.

“The festival also prides itself on being a community event and not simply a tourist attraction – 60 per cent of festival-goers are local people. That’s why the Dorset Tourism Award is so important to us. It places us firmly at the heart of what makes this county such a great place to live.”

The Air Festival now proceeds to the regional South West Tourism Awards and, if successful, will go forward to the National Awards.

Bournemouth Air Festival took place between 28th and 31st August this year, attracting over 1.2m festival-goers, generating in excess of £25m for the town and creating over 350 full-time jobs.

Other Bournemouth winners included: Large Hotel of the Year, Hotel Miramar; Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year, Andrew Lennox of Koh Thai; The Green House Hotel and its own Arbor Restaurant which won the Sustainable Tourism and Eating Out Awards respectively.

Councillor Williams added; “The host of other winners from Bournemouth helps to consolidate the town’s reputation as the UK’s premier resort.”

For details of next year’s festival, visit

RAF Museum Joins Forces with Germany and France to Share First World War Stories

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

The Royal Air Force Museum has partnered with Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace (Paris) and the Militärhistorische Museum der Bundeswehr (Berlin) to mark the centenary of the First World War in the air. will publish the letters, diary entries and artefacts relating to three First World War pilots over the course of the centenary. Letters written by Bernard Rice, Jean Chaput and Peter Falkenstein have been fully transcribed and translated and will be published 100 years after they were originally written.

This online project is linked to a series of centenary exhibitions at the three museums that deal with the often overlooked aerial aspect of the First World War. Many of the items featured online will be displayed as exhibits in the respective museums:

The Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace will be running a temporary exhibition “La grande Guerre des Aviateurs” (“The Great War of Airmen”) from 5 October 2014 to 25 January 2015 (more information).

The Militärhistorische Museum der Bundeswehr will present “14 Menschen – Krieg” (“14 – People – War”) in Dresden and an exhibition “Falkenstein zieht in den Krieg” (“Falkenstein Goes To War”) in Berlin-Gatow (more information).

Adam Shepherd, Head of Collections Management at the Museum said:

“This marks a unique partnership between three European museums as we reflect on the First World War and remember the people who served in the world’s first air forces.

Through their own letters and diaries, we wanted to tell the stories of three ‘ordinary’ airmen who lived through these extraordinary moments in time. We also wanted to tell a more diverse story. The popular image of the air war is that of daring fighter ‘aces’ and ‘Knights of the Air’. We wanted to tell some less well known stories, such as aerial reconnaissance and artillery observation, which became key roles for aircraft in a war dominated by trenches and big guns, and bombing, which literally brought war close to home.

I would especially like to thank my French and German colleagues, Georgia Santangelo, Jan Behrendt and their teams for all their work on this pioneering new venture, through which we can more widely share the stories of Bernard, Jean and Peter.”

Museum offers Online First World War Course

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

Marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, registration is now open for ‘World War One: Aviation Comes of Age’, which will allow users to explore the aerial aspect of the conflict through a series of academic resources and multimedia content. 

The course will look at:

How technological innovations turned the aeroplane into a machine of war and how British factories developed to supply the pilots of the Western Front with aircraft and ammunition.

How the aeroplane became a commercially viable tool for the first time, with passenger and mail routes starting to appear

How the government tried – and failed – to regulate the aviation industry

How all the key moments in the air in the Second World War followed from lessons learned during the First World War.

The RAF Museum provided locations for filming across its site in London. This included the Grahame White office that was active in overseeing aircraft production during the First World War. This footage will form the core of the course’s lecture content. Many of the RAF Museum’s aircraft will feature in various guises. Additionally, various documents from the RAF Museum’s collection were used in the filming and some will be made available to students once the course launches in October.

A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course – these are free, open, online courses designed to offer a taste of higher education to learners from across the UK and the world. The University of Birmingham is delivering new MOOCs in partnership with the BBC, Futurelearn, the UK’s first MOOCs provider established by the Open University.

The course has been developed by Air Commodore (ret’d) Dr Peter Gray of the University of Birmingham and it will be delivered by world-class academics from the university. Dr Gray is also a member of the RAF Museum’s Research Board and one of the UK’s leading air power historians. The course enables learners worldwide to sample high-quality academic content via an interactive web-based platform from a leading global university, increasing access to higher education for a completely new cohort of learners.

The MOOC will allow the RAF Museum to interact with a range of learners in a new and innovative manner that moves beyond the traditional confines of the museum environment. Learning forms an integral aspect of the Museum’s new ‘First World War in the Air’ exhibitions, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which opens to the public in December 2014. The exhibitions at both Museum sites in London and Cosford explore the vital role air power played in delivering victory in the First World War through the stories of those involved in this pioneering field.

This initiative forms part of the RAF Museum’s desire to develop its academic and research programmes as it moves towards the RAF’s Centenary in 2018 and beyond.

RAF Museum Aviation Historian, Ross Mahoney: “The Royal Air Force Museum is proud to have worked with the University of Birmingham and the BBC on this new innovative course, ‘World War 1: Aviation Comes of Age’. The First World War was a key moment in the development of military aviation and by its end; Great Britain had formed the world’s first independent air force, the RAF. However, many myths have developed around the use and influence of aviation in this period. This course, filmed at the RAF Museum, explores those myths and shows how aviation gripped people’s imagination and transformed the very character of warfare, which still influences the world today.”

Museum Seeks Blogger In Residence for First World War In The Air Exhibition

Monday, October 6th, 2014

The Royal Air Force Museum London is opening its doors to welcome in a blogger in residence as it gears up to the opening of its first major exhibition in over 10 years.

First World War In The Air is a brand new permanent exhibition opening in December 2014 in the museum’s historic Grahame-White Factory: this Grade II listed building was an active aircraft factory during the First World War. The Museum site in North London has a rich history and played an important role in the early development of British aviation. English aviation pioneer Claude Grahame-White described the area as ‘the birthplace of aerial power.’

The exhibition, supported by the HLF will explore what it was like to be involved in the earliest days of military aviation through the story of Britain’s air services, the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service. These two organisations merged on 1 April 1918 to become the world’s first independent air force, the Royal Air Force. This story will incorporate the experiences of pilots, ground crews and factory workers as well as the local North London community.

The lucky blogger will be invited to visit the Museum across key dates* including the VIP opening. They will have full access to the team behind the exhibition and take a behind the scenes look at the exhibition development, installation, aircraft suspension and exhibition build.

Bloggers interested in being considered need to follow @rafmuseum and Tweet us telling us what your favourite thing about the Museum is using #FWWIA and a link to their current blogs by Friday 17th October.

First World War Camel takes its place

Monday, October 6th, 2014

GWF Camel

The RAF Museum is pleased to announce the Sopwith Camel is now in position, suspended from the ceiling of the Grahame White Factory. The aircraft will be a key exhibit within the First World War in The Air Exhibition

First World War in the Air is opening December 2014 with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).This major new exhibition, will allow museum audiences to discover and explore the unique and often overlooked role of air power during the First World War through the incredible stories of the men and women who took part.

The creation of new exhibitions and supporting activities will be delivered across the museum’s two public sites and online. It will include programmes for lifelong learning, volunteering, apprenticeships and public events. The four-year project will mark the Centenary of the First World War, exploring the development of air power as an integral part of modern warfare and end by celebrating the birth of the RAF in 2018.