Sir Alan Cobham’s Flying Circus: A life of a Pioneering AviatorDate: 14th September 2014 – 11th September 2015

Entrance: FREE

A brand new exhibition uncovers one of Britain’s forgotten heroes. Sir Alan Cobham was a true aviation pioneer both in the air and on the ground. Amongst his many contributions was the ‘Air to Air’ refuelling technique still used by air forces across the globe today.

Sir Alan Cobham was one of the biggest celebrities of his day. Brave, visionary and innovative – he was a record setter whose legacy still holds to this day with an aerospace company that provides technology to air forces around the world.

Famous for landing his seaplane on the River Thames in front of the Houses of Parliament, he learned to fly during the First World War and later went on to set many long distance aviation records.

These include becoming the first person to fly from London to Cape Town and back in 1926 for which he received the Air Force Cross, and in the same year to be the first person to fly from London to Australia and back, for which he was knighted by King George V at the age of 32.

Sir Alan Cobham also organised a series of flying tours of the United Kingdom, Ireland and South Africa which became affectionately known as ‘Sir Alan Cobham’s Flying Circus’. These tours promoted aviation to the public and were a source of inspiration for countless pilots in the Second World War.

This new exhibition will be opening on the Museum’s Battle of Britain Day on the 14th September. It will be a highly visual display of Sir Alan Cobham’s life and his many notable achievements, showcasing some of the ‘treasures’ from the collection including a Union Flag that was flown on Cobham’s de Havilland D.H.50J biplane while on his Cape Town flight. The exhibition will also feature film footage that will show how he made aviation into a breathtaking spectacle.

The ‘Sir Alan Cobham Collection’ forms the basis of this new exhibition. This Collection may be viewed by appointment in our London Reading Room.

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