New Exhibits at the Fleet Air Arm Museum Get Concorde’s 50th Anniversary Year off to a Flying Start

Fleet Air Arm Museum

To mark 50 years since the very first test flights of Concorde in 1969, the Fleet Air Arm Museum near Yeovilton in Somerset is poised to unveil special exhibits including the futuristic helmet worn by the pilot of those early flights, Brian Trubshaw CBE.

The museum is home to one of only two prototype Concorde aircraft in the world and the first British-made Concorde (002), which was constructed as a test aircraft for the eventual fleet of 16 Concordes built for British Airways and Air France. Concorde 002 was largely designed and built at Bristol’s Filton airport, under the leadership of Trubshaw, a former Second World War pilot. In the 1960s and 70s Trubshaw was described as ‘every schoolboy’s hero’, flying test missions for fighter aircraft. He was at the controls on 9th April 1969 when Concorde 002 made its historic first flight from Filton to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, a journey lasting just 22 minutes.

Trubshaw’s helmet is a fascinating piece of aviation history. More like a space helmet than anything modern pilots would recognise, it was developed to cope with extreme altitudes and speeds, as the aircraft shot through the sky close to the edge of space. The helmet has been offered to the museum for the duration of the anniversary celebrations by its current owner and the museum’s general manager Marc Farrance says: “We’re delighted to be able to offer our visitors the chance to see the Trubshaw Helmet and understand more about its fascinating former owner. We are extremely grateful to the current owner, Mrs Lowe, for agreeing to loan the helmet to the Fleet Air Arm Museum as part of our celebrations of the anniversary.”

Throughout March and April of this 50th anniversary year, visitors to the Fleet Air Arm Museum will be able to attend daily talks from the museum’s experts on all things Concorde, with a host of fascinating facts such as:

• Concorde 002 first achieved supersonic speed in March 1970 and later in the testing programme hit a maximum speed of Mach 2.05.
• Mach 2 is approximately equivalent to 1,350 mph or 22 miles per minute, faster than a bullet from a gun and about the same as travelling from Leeds to York in under a minute.
• At Mach 2, the outside of Concorde gets hot enough to fry an egg, yet the air it is travelling through is -65C.
• Also at Mach 2, Concorde gets so hot it expands about 4 inches and has to have built-in expansion joints to accommodate this.
• 1969 was also the year of the Moon landing, but in a world before sophisticated computer programmes, all this revolutionary science and design was done with slide rules, pencils and paper.

Concorde 002 was retired to the Fleet Air Arm Museum on long term loan from the Science Museum after the test programme ended in 1976 and the first commercial Concorde flights began. The museum is also home to a number of aircraft that formed part of the Concorde development programme including HP 115 which was flown by several test pilots including Neil Armstrong.

Entry to the Fleet Air Arm Museum costs from £12.75 per adult and £9.50 per child, with family tickets available. Book online at www.fleetairarm.com

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