Archive for December, 2022

Airscene Awards 2022 – The Results

Friday, December 30th, 2022

RIAT crowd seating

Close to 1,000 votes were received this year, however with 50+ disregarded and deleted, the final tally of valid votes was 918. While most who voted did vote in every category, there were around 70 or so that voted in only one or two categories only.

Best Airshow

1st) RIAT (344)

2nd) RAF Cosford Air Show (239)

3rd) Duxford Battle of Britain Airshow (212)

As Airscene reviewer Lee Chapman said ‘A welcome return for the World’s biggest Military Air Show’, a couple of years without an Airshow to visit could very well be the reason for the enthusiasm shown for RIAT this year, and most definitely a well deserved 1st place.

Best Free Airshow

1st) Rhyl (198)

2nd) Eastbourne (163)

3rd) Bournemouth (149)

This is the first of 2 categories where voters seemed to be out in force for a venue that has barely featured in Airscene Awards in the past, and despite issues on day 2, the first day of the 2022 Rhyl Airshows seems to have made a big impression on those that attended.

Best Display Team

1st) ROKAF Black Eagles (330)

2nd) Red Arrows (311)

3rd) Frecce Tricolori (194)

I missed seeing ROKAF perform this year, and I am even more gutted now as you have put them in 1st place above the Red Arrows who are nearly always on top of this category. Well done ROKAF!

Best Solo Display

1st) Belgian F16 (288)

2nd) Czech AF Mi-24 Hind (235)

3rd) RAF Chinook (203)

Two heli’s in this years top 3, with the Czech Hind just pushing the Chinook down to 3rd place. The Belgian F16 did have the best colour scheme and many of you feel the solo display matched this. I need to give a mention to the Austrian QRA demo, which received votes in both the Display Team and Solo Display Category for some reason – if the votes were all added together, they would be a very close 4th in each category…

And finally Best Aviation Museum

1st) RAF Museum Midlands (279)

2nd) Duxford Imperial War Museum (258)

3rd) RAF Sculthorpe Heritage Centre (84)

RAF Museum Midlands (Cosford) are placed 1st again in the Airscene Awards, which I think is testament to the hard work that they put in the keep it relevant, with a packed calendar of events throughout the year – well done to the team at Cosford. RAF Sculthorpe have never received this many votes before and a last minute rally around kept both Newark Air Museum and RAF Museum London out of 3rd place (they tied on 81 points each by the way).

I’d like to close by sharing a quote from one of those who voted for RAF Sculthorpe Heritage Centre:

My father was stationed there from 1958-61. I was twelve years old when we arrived. It was a wonderful assignment and we made some lifelong friends while there. Ian Brown and Family and Friends have worked very hard and have done a great job. A visit from Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth was an amazing event in and of itself.” – John Witzell

Hurricane; Unsung Hero Exhibition – IWM Duxford

Sunday, December 25th, 2022

IWM Duxford - Hurricane; Unsung Hero Exhibition

On 22 December 2022 Airscene had the chance to preview the new exhibition at the Cambridgeshire branch of the Imperial War Museum. Following on from the success of last year’s popular display of 12 Supermarine Spitfires, this year, the famous Duxford Aerodrome is playing host to a unique collection of Hawker Hurricanes, the unsung hero of the Battle of Britain. The exhibition brings together seven unique and airworthy examples of the Hurricane alongside examples of the Hawker Fury, Nimrod and Hart biplanes – all of which provided the blueprint for the monoplane Hurricane.

During the Battle of Britain, Hurricanes outnumbered Spitfires consistently by two to one. Designed by Sydney Camm, the chief designer at Hawker Aircraft Ltd, the Hurricane would prove to be the workhorse of Fighter Command. With the dawn of the 1930s, the Air Ministry decided to issue a specification for a new high-speed monoplane fighter. These new fighters would require the capability to fly at 250mph while armed with four machine guns. Camm initially presented two designs to the Air Ministry, but both were rejected due to their cautious approach. Undeterred, and without any government backing, he decided to pursue his designs further. The result was the ‘Fury’ monoplane, a development of Camm’s earlier Fury biplane.

The Fury monoplane was ready for flight when the Air Ministry released a revised specification for the new fighters. They would now need to carry eight machine guns instead of four. Rather than allow for a complete overhaul, Camm simply fitted a new pair of wings capable of carrying the extra weight. The Hurricane was born. Despite the hundreds of hours invested in its design, the Hurricane retained many features of its biplane forefathers. It had a wooden frame constructed around a wire-based framework of metal tubes. Over this was stretched fabric, painted thickly with lacquer to stiffen, and protect it.

This marriage of old and new was ingenious. The Hurricane was economic, easy to produce and easy to maintain. Its fabric and wooden frame was less susceptible to enemy cannon fire than all-metal constructions. Shells would simply pass through instead of exploding on impact. Moreover, the Hurricane was easy to repair. RAF mechanics were already well trained in how to service aircraft of its more old-fashioned construction. By contrast, the stressed-metal construction of the Spitfire required skilled training.

The Hurricane was also extremely effective in battle. Its eight guns were fixed as two groups of four as close as possible to the fuselage. This made it perfectly suited to tackling the waves of German bombers it would soon be faced with. The first protype, K5083, flew at Brooklands on 6 November 1935. It was piloted by George Bulman, Hawker’s chief test pilot. Bulman was impressed by how easy the aircraft was to fly. Seven months later, the RAF placed an initial order for 600 Hurricanes. The most numerous RAF fighter during the Battle of Britain, the Hurricane equipped 33 squadrons by September 1940.
During the battle, Hurricanes accounted for 656 German aircraft shot down – more than the Spitfire’s total of 529. Between 30 July and 16 September 1940, 404 Hurricanes were destroyed.

The exhibition features four Mk I Hurricanes (P3717, V497, P2902, R4118), a Mk IIa Hurricane (5711, marked as R4175) and a Mk IIb Hurricane (1374, painted as BE505). The later of which has recently been fitted out as a two-seater and can be booked for passenger flights. The Shuttleworth Collections Sea Hurricane (Z7015) will join the collection in the new year once maintenance is complete. Alongside the Hurricanes you can also see Hawker Fury Mk I (K5674) and the unrestored airframe of a Hawker Hind (L7181). You can also see the Imperial War Museums own Mk Ia Spitfire offering a comparison between the two iconic fighters. Currently, a Hawker Nimrod is filling the space that will eventually be occupied by the Sea Hurricane.

To learn more, visit Hurricane: Unsung Hero, opening 27 December 2022 at IWM Duxford. Also, look out for several celebratory events around the exhibition, including a day with Airfix on 15 January, an evening photoshoot on 4th February and a full day of Hurricane history for the Hurricane Conference on 18 February. Check out the Imperial War museums website for further details;

RAF Museum unveils Royal Charter as part of 50th Birthday celebrations

Thursday, December 15th, 2022

RAF Museum Royal Charter

The RAF Museum is delighted to announce that we have been granted the Royal Charter in our 50th birthday year.

On Monday 12th December,  the Representative Deputy Lieutenant for the London Borough of Barnet, Martin Russell and the RAF Museum Chair, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, formally unveiled our Royal Charter, which is now on public display in our newly refurbished entrance to our Hangar 3 entrance at London.

The Royal Charter was granted by Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who also officially opened the Museum in 1972.

Maggie Appleton, Chief Executive Officer, RAF Museum said:
‘It is a great honour to have been granted a Royal Charter by Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. All the Museum team – Trustees, staff and volunteers – are incredibly grateful for this recognition. We are inspired even further to fulfil our dual role as a National Museum and community resource and partner, collecting and sharing globally significant stories for and with everyone.’

What is a Royal Charter?
A Royal Charter is a formal grant issued by a monarch which confers an independent legal personality on an organisation and defines its objectives, constitution and powers to govern its own affairs. Incorporation by Charter is a prestigious way of acquiring legal personality and reflects the high status of that body.

Only pre-eminent leaders in their field are granted this honour and Charter status provides an appropriate governance structure for the future and is an affirmation of the national importance of the Museum.
According to the Privy Council there are now over one thousand Royal chartered bodies. The first ever organisation to receive a Royal Charter was the Weavers Company in 1155. This year, the RAF Museum became the 1,038th company to receive their charter. Other famous fellow chartered bodies include the BBC, the British Red Cross and the Honourable Company of Air Pilots.

How did the Museum receive the Royal Charter?
The Royal Charter was granted to the Museum in recognition of its objectives to educate and inform the public and members of the RAF about the history and traditions of the RAF; and
the role of the RAF in relation to the armed forces of the realm, other air forces and aviation.

Applications for a Royal Charter take the form of a formal Petition to The Sovereign in Council. The Museum’s own petition included signatures from five previous RAF Chiefs of Air Staff
Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Johns (1997-2000); Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy (2006-2009); Air Chief Marshal Sir Andy Pulford (2013 – 2016); Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier (2016-2019) and Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston – Chief of the Air Staff incumbent.

Original support was given by the Museum’s former Royal Patron, His Late Royal Highness Prince Philip.

RAF Museum secures investment from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for Midlands development programme

Thursday, December 15th, 2022

RAF Museum Midlands New Exhibition

The Royal Air Force Museum is delighted to announce it has been awarded investment from The National Lottery Heritage Lottery Fund for its Inspiring Everyone: RAF Museum Midlands Development Programme.

This ambitious project will deliver a major regional engagement programme, alongside a site transformation. An immersive exhibition will explore today’s RAF, a new Learning Centre will provide bespoke facilities, and a purpose-built Collections Hub will enable the Museum’s stored collection to be shared with the public for the first time. The complementary development of a woodland landscape and new public realm will encourage outdoor learning, discovery, and contemplation.

The transformation will be underpinned by, and feed into, activities that welcome more of our communities to use the RAF Museum and RAF Story as a resource, enabling us to play a more impactful role across the Midlands. The project has been designed with inclusion at its heart, with a multi-strand engagement programme that has opportunities for co-creation throughout, helping us engage with a wider range of visitors and ensure our offer is relevant for everyone.

The project will also support the Museum to achieve its commitment to Carbon Net Zero by 2030. Throughout the programme, we will learn alongside the RAF, working with their environmental think tank to invest in sustainable technologies and operations.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s investment is a significant contribution towards the Museum’s fundraising campaign for the project, and will enable the Museum to progress plans, working with local communities to develop partnerships, programming and designs for the new spaces and exhibitions.

To deliver our vision of ‘Inspiring everyone with the RAF Story’, the Museum’s bold plans include delivery of a new innovative nationally relevant exhibition focusing on the critical role of the RAF over the past 40 years. Engaging and interactive displays will invite visitors to discover more about the RAF’s mission today and how the service will need to adapt in the future. Artefacts ranging from aircraft to films will be selected with community partners and multisensory display interpretation will be developed through co-design. By engaging audiences with wide ranging interests and backgrounds in the development process, the Museum will deliver storytelling that better reflects the diverse communities across the region.

A purpose-built Collections Hub will enable the Museum to conserve and care for more than 65,000 objects, currently held in storage offsite. The Collections Hub will provide an opportunity to share the stored collections with visitors for the first time, supporting a broad programme of engagement and skills-sharing with activities including conservation, research, digitisation, and collections-inspired creative sessions. One of the first uses of the Hub will be as a venue for volunteering, preparing objects for the new exhibition.

Working closely with young people and partners, the Museum will design a new Learning Centre with bespoke facilities dedicated to the development and delivery of lifelong learning programmes, with an increased capacity to engage with a wider audience than ever before. The new learning spaces will enable exploration, discovery and debate, and ignite visitors’ curiosity, both in STEM subjects as well as art, history and design. Learning programmes will support the development of new and existing skills while improving the wellbeing of participants through targeted activities onsite in the new centre, outreach activities and online.

The visitor experience will be enhanced with a new woodland area and public realm, to encourage outdoor learning, discovery, and contemplation. The new greener landscape will provide an opportunity for carbon capture, increasing biodiversity and creating spaces where visitors, staff and volunteers can improve their physical and mental health while supporting the Museum’s Carbon Net Zero target of 2030.

RAF Museum CEO, Maggie Appleton said:
‘I’d like to thank The National Lottery Heritage Fund on behalf of all our staff, volunteers and Trustees for the generous support they have given us – we could not be happier! We’re one step closer to our ambitious plans becoming a reality, made possible thanks to National Lottery players. Over the coming months we will continue to work closely with our local communities to develop the project, ensuring we deliver spaces that will make a vital and positive change to people’s lives across the Midlands and beyond.’

The project will be supported by a number of funders including The National Lottery Heritage Fund, as well as the RAF Museum’s own investment. The National Lottery Heritage Fund has generously supported the RAF Museum’s application for £5m at first round towards its £22.1m RAF Museum Midlands Development Programme. The Museum will now enter into a development phase, before building work commences in early 2025, and is expected to be complete by summer 2027.

To find out more about the redevelopment project and how you can get involved, visit The Museum is open daily from 10am and admission is free.

Newark Vulcan Delivery 40th Anniversary

Thursday, December 8th, 2022

Newark Air Museum Vulcan XM594

On the weekend of 11th/12th February 2023 it will be forty (40) years since Avro Vulcan XM594 landed (actual landing date 07.02.83) on the former wartime runway at Winthorpe Showground to go on display at the Newark Air Museum, 2023 it is also the 60th anniversary of its entry into RAF service.

To mark the anniversary, the museum trustees will allow members of the museum’s Cockpit Opening Team to provide FREE cockpit access to the Vulcan on the weekend – this will be available for visitors who pay to come into the museum and who advise the museum in advance of their plan to participate.

The museum will be open from 1000 to 1600 hours, with last admissions to the site being at 1500 hours. Admission costs to the museum site are: Adults £10.00, Over 60s £9.00 and Children £5.50.

The museum trustees anticipate that this will be a popular event, so to try and ensure that people have sufficient time inside the cockpit and that they are not waiting around outside, they are implementing a timed ticket system for going on board Vulcan XM594.

To help the museum formulate the timed ticket schedule they need to hear from people who plan to visit on the weekend and we would ask them to email in the following bits of information by 1600 hours on 1st February 2023: Estimated arrival time and The likely number of people in your group & their approximate ages

Once this information has been submitted the museum will draw up the timed visit schedule for people to go on board XM594 and notify people of their allocated time. The museum does reserve the right to close the offer before the stated date if the uptake is so great that it cannot cope with the number of visitors requesting the free access to the Vulcan. Further details will be posted on the News & Information page of the museum website at

Please be aware that because of the restricted space in the cockpit the Vulcan can only take 3-4 people at a time; please also be aware that access to the Vulcan is also dependent on a height restriction and visitors to the aircraft will have to be at least 1.00m (one metre) in height.

If you would like to look inside the Vulcan for FREE on the weekend please send the museum an email with the requested information via to indicate your interest, and please state “FREE Vulcan 40th Anniversary Visit” in the subject / topic section of your email.

In addition, a series of talks by ex-Vulcan aircrew is planned to take place throughout the weekend – further details will follow.

Of course a donation towards museum funds would always be appreciated for anyone taking part in this activity!!