Archive for March, 2021

Operation Moonraker – Sywell Aviation Museum’s new aircraft!

Thursday, March 25th, 2021

Sywell Jetstream

With the collapse of Handley Page Aircraft Ltd in 1970, Terravia Ltd/Jetstream Aircraft Ltd formed at Sywell and purchased 21 incomplete Jetstream MK1 airframes. They were then roaded from Radlett to Sywell. Several aircraft were completed before production moved to Leavesden under the auspices of Scottish Aviation. All remained in primer. The aircraft type was a major success following the acquisition of SA by British Aerospace and was further developed over the next 30 years from the Series 200 on to the Jetstream 31, 32 and 41. Many remain in service.


First flew on 17/4/1969. Registered as N1035S – To Cal State Airlines – C.1970– Purchased back by Jetstream Ltd Parent company Terravia Ltd and moved to Sywell as their demonstrator.

In 1971 she became the Jetstream Ltd demonstrator aircraft based at Sywell and participated in Daily Express National Air Race On 12th June 1971 between Biggin Hill and Sywell – and won! Flight Magazine noted:

“The Jetstream Mkl flown by Capt Bill Bright, streaked dramatically past the finishing line like a hunted fox” The trophy was presented by Douglas Bader.

On 22nd February 1974 she was re-registered as G-AWVK to Racal Decca Navigator Ltd as sales demonstrator and test bed then sold to Cranfield University in July 1990 and registered as G-RAVL.

She was retired in 2000 and was used as part of the University’s Aircraft Crash Investigation Course until recently. With the retirement of their current Jetstream G-NFLA her future was uncertain and she lay abandoned at the end of the runway at Cranfield.

Contact was made by Sywell Aviation Museum in late 2018 and the University very kindly agreed to donate her to the Museum for use as a classroom. The University has a long history of helping redundant airframes into preservation and their donation means that she can be used as a teaching aid again.

The Museum believes G-RAVL – now known as Jenny the Jetstream to be the third oldest Jetstream in existence and only a couple of serial numbers off the famous Apollo Airways Jetstream used in the opening sequence of the Bond movie – Moonraker….hence the name of the plan!

The project took 2 years to come to fruition. Handley Page clearly never intended for their work to be taken apart and Jetstream wing spars are notoriously difficult to access and work on. Extensive depanelling took place and then, without warning we were devastated to learn she had been broken into and items stolen including instruments, windows and even the pilot’s seat cushions!

Then COVID hit effectively putting the whole project on hold. Work carried on sporadically during 2020, with her tailplane and elevator, wing control surfaces and propellers being removed for transport.

So what are our plans? Well the Museum has taken over 16000 young people round the aerodrome over the last 20 years and we need a classroom! We have never before been able to put children INSIDE an aeroplane and the Jetstream will be perfect for that – she is even equipped with Airstairs.


On the morning of the 23rd March 2021 the aircraft wings were removed and she was transported back to Sywell, where she last visited in the 1970s, and is in the process of being reassembled.

When fitted out inside and repainted she will wear a refreshed colour scheme of G-RAVL on one side with Cranfield titles and G-AWVK on the other with Racal Decca titles. She will be a much valued asset to the Museum and will improve what we can offer our visitors – especially our younger ones- AND we have saved a piece of British aviation heritage which otherwise would have gone for scrap (and was at genuine risk of doing so!)

So what’s next? We need the following to begin to restore her:

Jetstream passenger seats, Jetstream interior panels Jetstream fuselage windows

We are looking for someone or a company to help trim her out inside since as part of her use as a training aid her interior aft of the cockpit has been stripped out. If you can help with retrimming and fitting out her interior we can proudly put your logo on her fin!
And we need your support – moving her was the biggest project the Museum has ever undertaken – if you would like to donate please contact us or we welcome your Paypal donations to

The Museum has been hit hard by COVID and plans to reopen on the 12th June 2021 and will then reopen each weekend and bank holiday between 1030-1630hrs and Tuesday and Wednesday between 1200-1600hrs until the end of September.

Before that the Museum has a book and model sale on the 22nd May 2021 between 1000-1600 and we welcome your donation of model kits and accessories to sell to raise funds.

With sincere thanks to The University of Cranfield, , Dave Thomas and all at Sywell Aerodrome

Brooklands Museum is the star of its own television series

Sunday, March 21st, 2021

Brooklands Museum

A brand new UKTV Original Series dedicated to Brooklands Museum in Weybridge, Surrey, is due to hit screens on Tuesday 30th March on Yesterday channel.

Narrated by Sanjeev Bhaskar, Secrets of the Transport Museum is a 10-part series set at the world-renowned Brooklands Museum. It is the first time in the Museum’s 30-year history that cameras have been allowed to film so much behind the scenes. The series follows the dedicated band of staff and volunteers who devote their time, skills and passion to maintaining the collection and preserving the site’s incredible legacies.

Brooklands Museum is home to some of the most important stories of motorsport and aviation history in the world. From the first ever purpose?built racing circuit and the cars that broke land?speed records on it, to an extraordinary collection of aircraft spanning over 100 years of aeronautical innovation ? Brooklands has it all.

Originally established in 1907, when the Lock King’s built the race track, the site quickly became a mecca for innovators and everyday people who wanted to race a car, fly a plane, or simply get caught up in the thrill of watching something so new and adventurous. Men and women flocked from across the globe to experience the revolution in motorsport and aviation, and Brooklands gave opportunities of mass employment to the local people of Weybridge and neighbouring towns.

Tamalie Newbery, Brooklands Museum Director & CEO said:
“At Brooklands Museum we tell the stories of pioneering men and women, who risked it all in pursuit of their dreams of speed and flight in the 20th century. Brooklands was a place which fuelled innovation and it had a huge influence on today’s motorsport and aviation industries. I’m delighted the TV series is going to give more people the chance to find out about this inspiring place, and how we care for it today.”

Viewers can expect to see a myriad of historic racing cars, vintage London buses, Edwardian planes and even Concorde. In one episode, Billy Monger gives a driving lesson to a fellow double amputee, and in another, the team recreate the Dam Buster bouncing bomb catapult, in honour of inventor Barnes Wallis’ daughter, who turns up for the occasion.

At a time when motor racing was almost exclusively a male sport, we are introduced to the infamous Belles of Brooklands; a group of pioneering women who raced on level terms with men in the 1920s. The V12 Delage was once the car of choice of Kay Petre, and now the car has returned 100 years later, to be driven by a modern-day racing driver, Abbie Eaton.

The new series airs at 8pm on Tuesday 30th March on Yesterday channel and will also be available on catch?up on UKTV Play.

RAF Bircham Newton Heritage Centre Open Days 2021

Sunday, March 21st, 2021

RAF Bircham Newton Heritage Centre

Providing that government plans do not change before the summer, we are planning to re-open our Heritage Centre on 6 days this year from June to November taking into account all the safety measures required.

The Heritage Centre at Bircham Newton has a unique collection of memorabilia from the former Royal Air Force station’s past service, which spanned more than 44 years, including two world wars and the Cold War. On display are photographs and personal memories of servicemen who served there and other related items from its fascinating history. The Centre is manned and run entirely by volunteers, many of whom are ex-servicemen or children of service personnel. Close by there are two stone memorials to remember those who served at Bircham Newton and its main satellite airfield near Docking.

Sunday, 27th of June
Sunday, 25th of July
Sunday, 29th of August
Sunday, 26th of September
Sunday, 31st of October
Sunday, 14th of November (Remembrance Sunday)
Opening times are from 10am to 4pm

Disabled access & toilets will be available, and car parking and entrance will be free.

Midlands Air Festival reveal more exciting aircraft ready for take-off this June

Thursday, March 4th, 2021

Team Raven at Midlands Air Festival

The spectacular Midlands Air Festival has announced a further wave of display aircraft that will be flying high at the festival as it gets set to return to its original location of Ragley Hall in Warwickshire on 4 – 6 June 2021.

Taking to the skies at the festival will be Team Raven, acclaimed aerobatics pilot Chris Jesson in his classic Stampe Bi Plane, the world-famous gyro pilot Peter Davies and the festival’s first ever airship appearance. In addition, organisers have already secured the mighty B-17 bomber and Rich Goodwin in his radical high powered Muscle Biplane to feature in the exhilarating programme of air displays.

The news follows confirmation from the organisers that they plan to soar ahead with the event, following the Government’s announcement on plans for lifting lockdown. As a large outdoor event, the festival will be following relevant government regulations and will be adopting all social distancing guidelines, with plenty of space for families to enjoy the jam-packed programme.

First to join the aircraft line-up will be Team Raven with their five-man formation display team that was first formed in May 2014. Simon, Steve, Barry, Gerald and Mark aka The Ravens have known each other for many years and have flown their signature Vans RV aircraft at countless air shows and displays throughout the country. The big sky display of precision aerobatics features very close formations with their wingtips just a few feet apart. The team name ‘Raven’ comes from a play on the letters ‘RV’ which you can see on the crest on the sides of the aircraft fuselages.

Adding to the aerobatic line up, pilot Chris Jesson will put his classic Stampe Bi Plane through a routine that ranges from aerial ballet to high energy manoeuvres. Chris started his flying career in the long-gone Dan-Air airline before completing his commercial service for easyJet. The Stampe, (pronounced Stomp) was a sophisticated aircraft in its day, featuring brakes, a tail wheel and ailerons on both sets of wings, things that were unusual for a light aircraft of the time.

The world-famous gyro display pilot Peter Davies will be taking to the skies in the futuristic Calidus Gyroplane. Flying for over 32 years, Peter is a highly experienced pilot who has been displaying with the Gyroplane for 22 years. Whilst the Gyroplane looks like a mini helicopter, it works in a more unusual way as the main rotor is not connected to the engine. The display is sure to be a crowd pleaser as Peter swoops the Gyroplane through the skies.

Finally, for something completely different, the festival has also confirmed its first appearance of an airship. Chris Sanger-Davies will pilot his 110,000cuft Lindstrand Airship at speeds of up to 15 knots. Whilst not the fastest aircraft attending the festival, it is certainly one of the most rare and interesting.

Trevor Graham, director of aviation for the festival commented: “These first displays are just an early taste of the aircraft we are planning to have in our daily flying programmes, many more exciting and unusual aircraft will be added to our growing list in the coming weeks. The display programme is being designed to appeal to aviation enthusiasts, families looking for a well-earned day out of excitement or those who just want to sit, relax and watch the show in the wide-open spaces of the historic Ragley Hall Estate.”

As well as a spectacular afternoon of air displays, the event will feature over 120 hot air balloons that will be rising high in the twice-daily hot air balloon mass ascents at dawn and late afternoon, along with exciting radio-controlled aircraft displays, large character kites and parachute teams.

The ticketed event will also feature the largest display of special shape character hot air balloons in Europe, with up to 40 of these amazing giants registered to attend. New special shapes that have been confirmed for the event include Wes the Wolf, the Cornetto Ice Cream, the giant Saucepan, and Buddy the smiling friend.

Mark Lockwood, spokesperson for the Midlands Air Festival, commented: “The programme for this year’s event is shaping up to be our best yet. It is set to be a brilliant family day out and we are really hoping to be a light at the end of a very long tunnel and give everyone something to really look forward to. Since the inaugural event in 2018, our Festival has proved to be hugely popular with both the Midlands audience and visitors from all over the UK.”

Local businesses are being encouraged to get in touch with the festival for bespoke sponsorship partnerships.

Tickets are now available from the Midlands Air Festival website with a special offer that ends on 31 March. Children under 14 can attend for free, when accompanied by an adult ticket holder. Tickets for this event must be purchased in advance and will be limited to allow for capacity restrictions and government regulations pertaining at the time of the event. Organisers are advising those wishing to attend to book their tickets early, in the event that the festival sells out.

There will be many more exciting additions and announcements about the events programme in the coming months, so to keep up to date with the latest news and information visit the Midlands Air Festival website

RAF Rugby 7’s take Lancaster Challenge to new heights

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021

RAF Rugby 7's

Date: Register online now, complete your Challenge by 17 May 2021
Cost: £20 per person / £17 Armed Forces Personnel
RAF Rugby 7’s: 24-hour Challenge, 21 May 2021, RAF Museum Cosford to Derwent Reservoir, Derbyshire

On 9 January the Royal Air Force Museum launched the Lancaster Challenge, a virtual event where participants could choose whether to complete 80K, 150K, or 500K in celebration of the 80th anniversary of the first flight of the Lancaster. Showing their support for the Museum, members of the RAF Rugby 7’s team will be taking the challenge to new heights when they attempt to complete more than 500K in just 24 hours!

Since the Challenge launched in January, more than 4,700 participants from around the world have used the Lancaster Challenge as motivation to keep them moving during lockdown. There is still time to register and reach your chosen distance, before the challenge closes on 17 May, the anniversary of the Lancaster’s famous Operation Chastise, better known as the Dambusters Raid, and then get your hands on the bespoke Lancaster Challenge medal.

RAF personnel stationed across the UK and overseas, are showing their support for the Museum’s virtual event by taking part, none more so than the RAF Rugby 7’s. While the majority of the team members are already clocking up the kilometres, walking, running and cycling their way through the start of 2021, on Friday 21 May two teams of RAF Rugby 7’s players will undertake the mammoth task of competing day and night, by foot or in the saddle, to complete their 500K Challenge in just 24 hours.

This huge fundraising effort to help keep the RAF Museum ‘flying’, will be run in line with the latest government guidelines. A cycling team will set off from RAF Museum Cosford in Shropshire, cycling the 135km route to the Derwent Reservoir, Derbyshire, where they will join the running team completing relay laps of the reservoir, and together they will continue for the remaining hours of the challenge. The reservoir is significant for the Lancaster having been selected by the RAF’s celebrated 617 Squadron to perform low-level practice sorties in Lancaster’s, in preparation for Operation Chastise and the use of their ‘bouncing bombs’.

Find out more about the RAF Rugby 7 members taking part in this extraordinary take on the Lancaster Challenge and how you can support them at

RAF Museum Individual Giving Manager, Abi Betteridge said:
“We are delighted to have the RAF Rugby 7’s team supporting the challenge in this rather unique way, and we look forward to cheering them on as they set of from Cosford in May. The team are not only working hard training in preparation for the Challenge, they are also working hard to fundraise. The impact of the pandemic and closure of our two Museums has been immense. We estimate that the crisis has reduced our total self-generated income by over £3M and this figure continues to grow whilst we continue to be closed to the public.

Sponsorship from the RAF Rugby 7’s and more than 250 individual Lancaster Challenge fundraisers will enable the RAF Museum, as a registered charity, to continue to share the stories of the crews who showed incredible bravery flying missions for Bomber Command, and the wider RAF story, to engage, inspire and encourage future learning. So far, in addition to entry fee’s, we have raised over £29,000 plus £5,000 in Gift Aid, we had originally set a target of £30,000, so we are well on our way to exceeding this. Anyone wanting to support the Rugby 7’s can do so by visiting their JustGiving page.”

If you are looking for some inspiration to get outdoors and get moving now Spring is on its way, it’s not too late to sign up. As a virtual event, the Lancaster Challenge can be completed anywhere, anytime, to fit in with your daily routine either individually, or with members of your household bubble. To join the 4,700 Challenge participants go to, simply choose whether to complete 80K, 150K or 500K, record your distance on the downloadable log sheet and once the Challenge closes on 17 May you will be rewarded with an exclusive, Lancaster Challenge medal!

Participants can stay connected, meet other Challengers and share their progress as they complete the Challenge by joining the RAF Museum Virtual Running Group on Facebook. When sharing updates on social media, Tag @rafmuseum in your photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or with #LancasterChallenge2021.

Limited edition Lancaster Challenge T-shirts are also available to purchase when registering online. The souvenir T-shirts cost £14.00 and will be delivered with your medal following the end of the challenge. Sizes range from small to XX Large. Or why not join the Museum’s growing team of fundraisers, pledge to raise £80 for the RAF Museum and receive your souvenir Lancaster Challenge t-shirt for free. Select the sponsorship option when signing up online and the Museum’s fundraising team will be in touch with some handy tips to kick start your fundraising.

To register for the Lancaster Challenge visit Entry costs £20 per person, or £17 for Armed Forces Personnel, all proceeds will go towards supporting the RAF Museum (registered charity number 244708), additional booking and postage charges apply for overseas participants.

Newark Air Museum’s Roadmap to Re-Opening

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021

Aerial view of Newark Air Museum

Since the Government’s announcements on Monday 22nd February the museum trustees have been checking the details of the announcement and deciding how they might go about re-opening the museum, whilst complying with the regulations. Initially, there was some doubt whether or not we might be allowed to open outside from 12th April’ 2021, followed by the whole site including Hangars from 17th May.

On Wednesday 24th February, 2021 we managed to secure clarification from DCMS (Department for Culture Media & Sports) via AIM (the Association of Independent Museums) that suggests we should be allowed to open the outside display areas from 12th April, 2021 albeit the detailed regulations will not be known until mid-March; so things could still change.

Even with that in mind the museum is now looking at the following arrangements being made.

Opening outside displays

Opening the external displays at the museum on three days per week, typically Friday, Saturday and Sunday; commencing Friday 16th April (with the option to switch from Friday to Monday on the May 3rd for the early May Day Bank Holiday Weekend). This will be at a reduced admission rate to reflect the reduced number of exhibits that can be seen.

As part of this re-opening the Museum Shop will also reopen under the changes to non-essential retail and offer take-out service will be offered from the Café.

After an assessment of aircraft conditions, the museum will instigate a cleaning programme for external exhibits, with the work being undertaken by the museum’s working members. It is anticipated that this will take place in early April, whilst working to the anticipated Rule of Six Regulations. Arrangements for working members attending the museum to undertake this work will be co-ordinated through the museum’s Restoration Manager.

Opening Hangars & inside displays

The initial aim is towards opening the internal displays at the museum on a normal basis, from Monday 17th May; this will be in line with the relevant Covid-Secure Regulations, which may be subject to change.

Current thoughts regarding 2021 Museum Events

Sadly, the museum has already cancelled the Cold War Call-Up event that was planned for May, 2021.

An Outdoor Aeroboot/Aerojumble will be organised for Saturday 3rd July, 2021.

The Cockpit-Fest 21 & Aeroboot event has been rescheduled to take place on the August Bank Holiday Weekend of 28th, 29th & 30th August, 2021.

The museum still plans to run an Autumn 1940s Weekend event on 2nd & 3rd October, 2021.

Please be aware ALL of these proposals are subject to change by government legislation at any time. We will post regular updates on our website and also on our Social Media feeds.

As a volunteer managed registered charity the museum relies on public admission fees, shop sales etc. to fund its operation and it has become ever reliant on the generosity of our visitors, volunteers and staff in these unprecedented and challenging times. Online donations can still be made via our Just Giving Page