Archive for May, 2018

100-year-old veteran makes flying visit to Fleet Air Arm Museum

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Douglas Rolton visits Fleet Air Arm Museum

100-year-old Mr Douglas Rolton visited Yeovilton’s Fleet Air Arm Museum this week for a special visit to see the Fairey Barracuda aircraft project.

Mr Rolton, who was 100 last month, flew as an observer/navigator in Royal Navy Barracuda aircraft on the bombing mission against the German Battle ship Tirpitz in 1944.

He also survived two crash landings at sea during his career as a Navy pilot, making him a double member of the ‘Goldfish Club’, the name given to aircrew members who have had to make forced landings over water.

William Gibbs, museum restoration engineer, who is heading the Barracuda rebuild, was able to show Mr Rolton many familiar parts of the aircraft that are being worked on to recreate the last surviving example of a Barracuda dive bomber, using components from Barracuda crash sites, recovered to aid the project. Of particular interest was the window section from the Observers position in a Barracuda, a view Mr Rolton would have been very familiar with during his flying career.

Inspiring The Next Generation: RAF Science Challenge For Bristol Schools

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

RAF STEN at Aerospace Bristol

OVER 300 school children have taken part in a Royal Air Force event to encourage interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) today (Tuesday 22 May).

Students from schools in Bristol and surrounding areas took part in a range of activities including coding and building rocket cars. The event was held at Aerospace Bristol on the historic Filton Airfield with many of the STEM challenges themselves located underneath the wings of the Concorde. The aerospace museum is also home to the Sea Harrier which last year was successfully airlifted to its new home by an RAF Chinook.

The students were guided by the RAF Youth and STEM Team and their partners from Hands on Science. The students were also assisted by local RAF Engineers from Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) based at MOD Abbey Wood.

The event was part of the RAF’s national youth engagement programme which has been expanded for the Air Force’s 100th year and is expected to reach up to 2 million students aged between 9-15 years old. The aim of the programme is to build interest in STEM careers and inspire a new generation to help write the next chapters in the RAF’s story.

Amber Nyakunu, 11, from Holy Cross Primary School in Bedminster, said:

“My favourite activity was programming the robot. We had to use teamwork to complete the challenge and get the job done. After today, I would say I’m much mor interested in science and engineering.”

Air Marshal Julian Young, Chief of Material (Air) at DE&S and the Defence Engineering Champion, said:

“In 2018, both the year of the RAF’s Centenary and the Year of Engineering, DE&S is proud to join with our RAF colleagues to encourage our local young people from Bristol to take an interest in the exciting and rewarding field of Engineering. Through Engineering you can shape the future of the world we live in: my hero Brunel demonstrated this some 160 years ago, and the Concorde at Aerospace Bristol is a fantastic more recent example.

“Creative thinking and problem solving in technical matters are key to our country’s future, and as a responsible employer we have a duty to help address the skills shortfall in engineering across the UK.”

Amy Seadon, Learning & Community Engagement Manager at Aerospace Bristol, said:

“It was fantastic to see so many children taking part in hands-on STEM activities alongside Aerospace Bristol’s real-world examples of aerospace engineering. Through our exhibition and National Curriculum-linked learning programme, the museum aims to inspire young people to pursue careers in science and technology and we wer delighted to work with the RAF and Bristol schools on this special event.”

First UK Museum to be allowed to exhibit in France’s most prestigious location

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

Avro 504

On behalf of the RAF and French Air Force (Armée de l’Air), the Yorkshire Air Museum has been commissioned to undertake an exhibition with full sized aircraft celebrating over 100 years of close co-operation between the two air forces at Les Invalides in the centre of Paris from 24th until 28th May 2018.

(The Royal Air Force was formed on the battlefields of the France during WWI, 100 years ago this year).

Les Invalides is the famous 17th century hospital, courtyard and cathedral built by Louis XIV, and home to the tomb of Napoleon and some of France’s top museums.

The Yorkshire Air Museum based at Elvington near York is also the European accredited Allied Air Forces Memorial and is situated on an original RAF Bomber Command base near York, which was the home of the only two French Heavy Bomber Squadrons of WW2 with over 2300 French airmen based there.

Particularly because of this unique French connection, the Museum has extensive experience in organising exhibitions and transporting historic aircraft both across France and Great Britain. It will be transporting a restored British biplane of the type which was first used in WW1 in 1912, an AVRO 504, to be displayed along with the Museum’s Anglo / French exhibition and a 1916 French SPAD VII fighter on loan from the Conservatoire d’Aquitaine in Bordeaux. They will create an evocative display reflecting the earliest days of British and French military cooperation in air defence.

Museum Director, Ian Reed ONM FRAeS, comments: “This will be the first time that a UK museum, indeed any Museum, has undertaken a display of this kind in perhaps the most prestigious location in France, where many occasions of State take place.

We are very privileged to be asked by the Royal Air Force and French Air Force to assist in bringing to fruition this unique celebration of over 100 years of co-operation between the two country’s air forces, especially in this year of RAF100

The ties which bind our two countries remain strong, even as ‘Brexit’ looms and I am sure will remain so into the future”.

Mr. Reed particularly praised the French authorities: “They have gone out of their way to be helpful and I am very grateful to them for their support to us, especially a foreign museum in one of the most renowned buildings in France.”

NEW display commemorates 100 years of the RAF

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

First 100 Year of RAF

Date: Now open
Cost: FREE

A bold new display celebrating and commemorating the centenary of the Royal Air Force is now open to visitors at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford.

Entitled ‘RAF Stories: The First 100 Years 1918-2018’, the new display showcases the diversity and history of the RAF through the use of personal stories and a collection of previously unseen artefacts. It has also been carefully designed to offer a compelling snapshot of the RAF’s principle roles:

• Prepare: The RAF’s Red Arrows display team represent the pinnacle of the services training and ethos. A Red Arrows pilots’ flying suit and distinctively marked helmet feature as part of the display.

• Attack: A selection of objects illustrating the RAF’s attack role ranging from an early aerial reconnaissance camera to an arming key for a nuclear bomb are now on show.

• Defend: The Battle of Britain in 1940, which tested the RAF’s defensive abilities to the limit, is represented in the display including rare and unique artefacts.

• Support: Featured in the display will be the story of a ground crewman Antony Ford who served on the Operation Bushel famine relief effort in Ethiopia in 1984-85, as well as a helicopter winch operator’s rescue strop and an air-to-air refuelling.

RAF Museum Assistant Curator, Clare Carr said:
“Items for the new display have been carefully selected for their potential to engage visitors with a fresh perspective on the RAF story. Some of the more unusual items include rock blown from the Mohne Dam during the renowned Dambusters raid of 1943, a set of wire cutters smuggled into a POW camp, contents from a Christmas gift box given to personnel serving in Iraq in 2004, and a parachute release handle used by a pilot to escape his crashing Hurricane during the Battle of Britain. Many of the objects look perfectly ordinary but have remarkable stories to tell.”

The new display comes ahead of the newly transformed London site which formally reopens in June The ambitious multi million-pound redevelopment of the London side will feature new immersive galleries, freshly landscaped green spaces, and themed restaurants.

The ‘RAF Stories: The First 100 Years 1918-2018’ display is supported by National Lottery Players through the Heritage Lottery Fund and founding sponsor BAE Systems. It is part of the RAF Museum’s RAF Centenary Programme across its two sites in London and Cosford.

The Museum is open daily from 10am and entry is FREE of charge. For more information visit

Living History in the air and on the ground

Monday, May 21st, 2018

Texan by Piotr Szydlo

Old Buckenham Airfield is delighted to announce another airborne legend from WWII will display both days over the weekend of the 28 and 29th July; A Hawker Hurricane. Completing the ultimate trinity of WWII allied fighters, the Hurricane adds to a line-up which includes the Spitfire and Mustang.

Responsible for 60% of the victories in the Battle of Britain, the Hurricane is often overshadowed by the glamorous Spitfire. As a result flying Spitfires now outnumber the Hurricane; a rare sight in the skies. The particular aircraft in question was built in Canada, written off in England during the War and then crossed the Atlantic again having been restored to form part of the Planes of Fame Museum in Houston, Texas. Today she is part of the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar.

Saturday will see some airborne antics, guaranteed to be a winner with every member of the family, courtesy of the Turbulent Team. This four aircraft display team fly the remarkable and tiny Turbulent, a single seat low powered machine; the only aircraft type during the weekend to fly under a limbo.

The Turbulents seem to be happiest flying a few feet off the ground. In fact, they never go above 700 ft during a display. This is mainly because the optimum height for their favourite pastimes, such as balloon popping and flour bombing is rather close to the ground. They’ll also need to be close to the ground in order to get under the limbo. The approach that the incredibly skilled pilots of the four aircraft take mainly centres around fun. To neatly illustrate this point they describe themselves as flying “in the colours of the Early Learning Centre”

The future of Airshows relies on new talent; display pilots are the best of the best and each year not only do they need to pass rigorous assessments to gain their Display Authorisation from the CAA; they also need airshows to book them. Thanks to a brilliant new initiative from the CAA, we’re delighted to be able to bring the Airshow Crowd displays from a new era of display pilot.

The first such pilot is Andy Goodall who’ll be displaying his fearsome T-6 Texan “Wacky Wabbit” (named for a rather famous cartoon character); a WWII fighter trainer with a 600hp Pratt and Whitney radial engine. The T6, best known in England as the Harvard, is still in service with the Canadian Air Force and recognised as one of the
all-time great Display aircraft. Andy will be flying the same T-6 which (when the air displays are not in progress) members of the public can take to the skies aboard as part of a truly special trial lesson with a highly qualified flying instructor. This then will truly offer some very lucky members of the public the opportunity to fly aboard a display aircraft; a first for the Airshow.

On the ground, military exhibits and history are brought to life. This will be the first Airshow where the airfield is able to boast two museums; in addition the usual several acres of military displays including tank rides will be back by popular demand. They’ll be added to by a remarkable display by the Airborne Assault Living History Group. Featuring a recreation of a bombed Normandy barn, this evocative display will headine a host of living history exhibits, covering conflict throughout the 20th Century.

“After last year’s record breaking success, the challenge was always going to be finding a way of following it. Somehow we’ve managed to assemble a truly amazing line-up of airborne displays this year with even more to be announced next month. Thanks to groups like Airborne Assault and the hundreds of other living history enthusiasts who form part of the Airshow, the exhibits on the ground will be unmissable.”

RNAS Yeovilton’s Resident Forces Join Air Day Line-Up

Sunday, May 20th, 2018

RNAS Yeovilton Wildcat

RNAS Yeovilton International Air Day has a sensational line-up ready for Saturday 7 July but we can now confirm details of two spectacular Role Demonstrations provided by the resident Commando Helicopter Force and the Wildcat Maritime Force.

There will be an explosive, pyrotechnic-filled role demo from the Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) Merlin and Wildcat helicopters. Headquartered at RNAS Yeovilton, CHF comprises of three squadrons – 845 NAS and 846 NAS, currently flying Merlin HC3/3As but transitioning to upgraded HC4s, and 847 NAS, equipped with the Wildcat AH1. These two helicopter types are at the forefront of amphibious and land-based Royal Marines operations worldwide and they’ll both be in action with troops on board at Air Day. Joining them are Hawk T1s from 736 NAS, based at RNAS Culdrose: a welcome return to Air Day’s flying programme for the Royal Navy’s ‘Maritime Aggressors’.

From the Wildcat Maritime Force (WMF), and unique to Air Day, will be a solo Wildcat HMA2 display packed full of spectacular flares. The Fleet Air Arm’s new multi-mission maritime helicopter, operated by the WMF’s two squadrons – 815 and 825 NAS, will be put through its paces in this exciting role demonstration. A pair of Wildcats will also take part in a flypast with the Royal Navy’s Sea King ASaC7 as it bows out of service and three Wildcats will be available to view up close on static display.

Prepare for a frontline battlefield experience like no other – cameras at the ready!

To book tickets and to see the full list of participating aircraft, visit

RAF Search and Rescue Boats on the Move

Sunday, May 20th, 2018

RAF Search and Rescue Boats

The move of our RAF search and rescue boats to their new position.

2018 marks the centenary of the Royal Air Force and the award-winning RAF Museum is set to welcome visitors into a newly transformed London site when it formally reopens on Saturday 30 June

The Museum’s ambitious redevelopment features new immersive galleries, freshly landscaped green spaces, a children’s playground and new restaurant, making it the only place in London where visitors can test their flying skills, explore RAF stories, sit inside an iconic cockpit and enjoy a picnic in a single day.

Our newly transformed site will open to the public on Saturday 30 June.

Brooklands Museum Wins Coveted Museums + Heritage Award

Sunday, May 20th, 2018

Brooklands Museum wins coveted award

Brooklands Museum in Surrey has won the prestigious Museums and Heritage Award for Permanent Exhibition, seeing off stiff competition from some major national institutions such as the Science Museum Group and Natural History Museum. The award was announced at a gala awards ceremony in London and presented by the Reverend Richard Coles.

The award was for the ambitious Brooklands Aircraft Factory and Flight Shed, a major £8.4M project that involved dismantling, restoring and relocating a Grade 2 Listed WWII Bellman Hangar and reinterpreting it inside as an aircraft factory. As well as restoring and re-profiling the section of original 1907 Race Track where the Hangar once stood, the project also included constructing a new purpose-built Flight Shed to display live aircraft with a new archive store and workshop beneath. The Aircraft Factory and Flight Shed opened to the public in November 2017.

On why the Judges chose Brooklands as the winner, they said: “This new exhibition has it all – it’s immersive, creative, people-focused. It is astonishing in its risk-taking, has great volunteers at its heart and challenging in the way it has so brilliantly brought its collection alive.” Also, “Bold inspiring and interactive – made even more special by great people!”

The competition saw a broad range of entries from remarkable achievements of national institutions to projects crafted with limited resources and those championing their staff and volunteers who work hard to deliver inspiring visitor experiences. The Permanent Exhibition category included National Army Museum, Ashmolean Museum, London’s Natural History Museum and part of the Science Museum Group, ‘Wonderlab’ on the shortlist. Other categories included Volunteer of the Year, Educational Initiative, Marketing Campaign and Project on a Limited Budget.

Entry to the new exhibition spaces is included in the general admission price to the Museum which is open daily. The whole experience is enhanced and brought to life by volunteer stewards and demonstrators, some of them former employees of the Brooklands factories (which employed 14,000 people from surrounding towns and villages at their peak). The volunteers share their own reminiscences making every visit unique and which is a highlight for most visitors.

Brooklands Museum Director and CEO, Tamalie Newbery said, “We are absolutely thrilled to have won this award from Museums and Heritage for our Aircraft Factory and Flight Shed project. After years of planning, fundraising and the dedication and hard work of our Volunteers, Staff and supporters, we have produced a visitor experience that really is unique and fully deserving of the incredible heritage that Brooklands is famous for.” The Museum has seen record visitor figures for the same period since the new facilities opened.

Brooklands is also currently one of five finalists for the Art Fund Museum of the Year Award which is the world’s biggest museum award and will be announced on 5th July.

Belgian Displays Add International Flair to Air Show Line-Up

Sunday, May 20th, 2018

Belgian Air Force F16 by Bart Rosselle

Two aircraft from the Belgian Air Force will be performing at this year’s RAF Cosford Air Show, adding more international flavour to the event on Sunday 10th June, which celebrates the Royal Air Force’s centenary.

Adding noise and power to the flying display will be the legendary F-16 Fighting Falcon. The F-16 single-engine multirole fighter was first delivered to the Belgian Air Force in 1979. The aircraft is used for both combat operations and in recent years, Belgian F-16s have carried out Baltic Air Policing, joint Belgian-Dutch Air Policing and deployed to Jordan in support of the fight against ISIS. The jet will be painted in an eye-catching colour scheme for its display, designed by the display pilot himself, callsign ‘VADOR’. Also displaying will be their Agusta A109 display. The A109 is a medium sized helicopter which is used in a number of roles such as medical evacuation and troop transportation.

Over 70% of the online tickets for the RAF Cosford Air Show have now been sold, with a sell-out expected in the comings weeks and organisers are urging those who wish to attend to buy theirs soon. Air Show Director, Mr Clive Elliott, said, “There really is so much going on both in the air and on the ground this year and people are obviously getting that message. We’ve never seen tickets sell quite this fast.”

Tickets are currently available from the Air Show website, and a range of retail outlets including the RAF Museum & Local Tourist Information Centres. A joint ticket combining rail travel and Air Show admission at a reduced price is also available from any manned railway station.

Over 1,000 RAF Veterans and Current Serving Personnel gather for an exclusive London site preview

Friday, May 11th, 2018

RAF Day at Hendon
2018 marks the Centenary of the Royal Air Force and the award-winning RAF Museum is set to welcome visitors into a newly transformed site when it formally reopens on Saturday 30 June.

Yesterday, the Museum welcomed over 1,000 RAF veterans and current serving personnel for a special ‘RAF Day’ get together and treated them to a special preview of London’s new Hangar 1, which houses two new, innovative galleries exploring the first 100 years of the RAF, its role today and invites visitors to imagine its future contribution and technology.

The Museum’s RAF Day also enabled us to establish closer relationships with RAF bases around the country and helped to ensure we are sharing their stories. As part of our RAF Centenary Programme, the Museum will also be launching a new digital project called RAF Stories; an online digital project which aims to inspire participants to share accounts of the Royal Air Force. RAF Stories seeks to find stories, not just from former and serving personnel, but also from their friends and family as well as extended partners who work closely with the RAF.

The day’s events also included a welcome speech by Air Marshal Stuart Atha CB DSO MA BSC RAF, live music from the UK’s premier jive and swing band – The Jive Aces, as well as tours, talks, refreshments and the chance to catch up with colleagues old and new. With service men and women joining in from across the country, it was a truly memorable and sentimental gathering.

Event organiser Anji Patel, stated: “RAF Day was a huge success and it was wonderful and emotional to have such a large gathering of both current serving personnel and veterans. We want to make this an annual event and look forward to inviting them again next year.”

The RAF Museum’s RAF Centenary Programme is supported by National Lottery Players through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

For more information about the RAF Museum’s RAF Centenary Programme visit