Posts Tagged ‘Sywell Aviation Museum’

Sywell Jetstream Update and Appeal!

Thursday, October 19th, 2023

Sywell Jetstream

Sywell Aviation Museum’s second airframe, Handley Page Jetstream 200 G-RAVL has recently achieved a couple of milestones since its arrival at the Northamptonshire aerodrome in March 2021.

Most of the work has been internal and includes replacement of missing cockpit instruments (with special thanks to the Trenchard Museum at Halton) to the point where it is complete and a new set of passenger windows fitted. In addition, the control runs have been worked through and the repainted and refurbished tailplane and elevators reinstalled on the airframe. Further work will involve aileron and flap controls before the surfaces can be installed then attention will turn to the passenger cabin before a complete external repaint. One side will see her in fresh new paint in the Cranfield College of Aeronautics scheme she currently wears whereas the other will see her adopt her former RACAL Decca livery and G-AWVK registration.

All this work has been funded by donations as the Museum does not charge an entry fee. The majority of which was raised at the Museum’s popular book and model sale held in March this year.

Again the Museum is making an appeal for the donation of aviation books, and especially model kits and accessories, diecast models etc to enable another sale to take place in the new year. Kind donors can see where the money raised goes and the progress that has been made directly due to their generosity.

If you are able to donate any items to the Museum please contact or call 07968061708 – collection can be arranged.

Sywell Aviation Museum Events 2023

Wednesday, January 11th, 2023

Sywell Aviation Museum

15th January 2023 – The Rich Tapestry of Life (Winter Talk)

A talk by David McIntyre.

David always wanted to be a pilot; his father was an RAF instructor at Sywell during 1942/43 on Tiger Moths, and later went on to fly Lancasters with 106 Sqn at the end of WW2. During this time, David’s father met a Battle of Britain Spitfire pilot who in later years became David’s uncle. David flew Canberra PR7.s on Cold War intelligence gathering, then Vulcan (nuclear) bombers. He became an instructor himself, on Jet Provosts at RAF Brawdy; including an emergency ejection!

19th February 2023 – A Tale of Two Lancs (Winter Talk)

Mike Chatterton is a former RAF Shackleton and Nimrod pilot. He was posted to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight in 1989 and became their Lancaster pilot, skills which he transferred to East Kirkby when he began taxiing their own Lancaster ‘Just Jane’. He retired from the RAF in 2013 after nearly 40 years. He is very proud that his father was also a Lancaster pilot, and they often provided a ‘double act’ at Coningsby and East Kirkby!

19th March 2023 – Operation Exodus & The Fate of Lancaster PD339 (Winter Talk)

A talk by Roger Kirkham & Bill Lockerbie. On 26th April 1945 Lancaster PD339 of 50 Squadron RAF was returning to base following a delivery of repatriated Allied POWs as part of Operation Exodus. The aircraft crashed close to Delapre Home Farm near Hardingstone. Both speakers are experienced tour guides at Delapre Abbey and have extensively researched this incident with a view to erecting a memorial to those involved on the 80th anniversary in 2025.

**Admission to each talk is £5 per person. Groups may book tickets in advance (tel: 07711 363392). All talks are held in the Cirrus Room at the Aviator Hotel

8th April 2023 – Easter Saturday Grand Opening


One for your new diaries! As ever the Museum reopens on Easter Saturday with its Grand Opening!

For you old hands you’ll know what to expect – though we can’t guarantee the weather this year!

Military vehicles, re-enactors, aircraft cockpits, trade stands and the usual volunteer-run chaos that is our 22nd Grand Opening and it’s all free! We’ve set up an Event Page so you can keep up to date with the latest news…
You never know something sexy and Rolls-Royce powered may turn up!

Military vehicles/classic vehicles must book in in advance please – visiting historic aeroplanes are also very welcome but please do let us know you’re coming so we can have cake ready! To book in please email


12th March 2023 – Model & Book Sale

Yes it’s back by popular demand! Please click on the link below for details! In the meantime we would be extremely grateful for the donation of aviation books, model kits and accessories, diecast models, aeronautica etc to sell on the day to help raise funds to keep us going! Sincere thanks to all those who have helped so far – if you can help please contact us by Facebook Messenger, email to or call 07968061708.


Sywell Aviation Museum Book & Model Appeal

Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

Sywell Aviation Museum

After the success of the Sywell Aviation Museum book and model sale earlier this year, the Museum is actively seeking the donation of more items to help raise funds to restore its 1969 Handley Page Jetstream aircraft into a classroom. If we can collect enough then we hope to hold another sale later this year or early next.

If you have any surplus second hand military/aviation books, diecast models, model kits or accessories you would be able to donate we would love to hear from you (we can collect).

Based at Sywell Aerodrome, the Museum is free to enter and relies on donations to survive. It remains open each weekend and bank holiday until the end of September between 1030-1630hrs and each Tuesday and Wednesday 1200-1600. Also we are actively recruiting new members so if you are interested please get in touch.

For more information please email or call 07968061708.

Sywell Aviation Museum Grand Opening

Tuesday, April 19th, 2022

Sywell Grand Opening

Easter Saturday 16th April 2022 Sywell Aviation Museum’s Grand Opening and 21st Birthday Party

SAM first opened its doors in 2001 in three Nissen huts dismantled from RAF Bentwaters and re-erected at the Northamptonshire aerodrome. It expanded twice in 2011 and 2012 with two more huts having been added. 2012 saw the addition of its first complete airframe – unique Hawker Hunter F.2 WN904 from RAF Waterbeach courtesy of the IWM.

After an epic effort, their second airframe Handley Page Jetstream 200 G-RAVL arrived from Cranfield University in March 2020 and since then much work has been done to restore her. The Museum is actively seeking Jetstream parts including seats and interior trim or related memorabilia.

In 1970 with the demise of Handley Page, Terravia Ltd set up Jetstream Ltd at Sywell to continue production of the type. RAVL (then N1035S) was bright back from the USA by the CEO of the company – Captain Bill Bright – for use as a company demonstrator. Indeed he flew her to victory in the 1971 Daily Express National Air Race in June 1971 between Sywell – Biggin Hill.

The Museum was able to track down his children who remember flying on holiday in the machine in the early 1970s. Now living in Spain, Marcus and Rebecca Bright attended the event as guests of honour to be reunited with the aircraft they last saw 45 years earlier.

In addition to a huge number of military and classic vehicles and re-enactors, the Museum welcomed resident and visiting aircraft including a Miles Gemini & Messenger, a brace of Austers, Avro 504 and Fokker DR1 replicas, Beagle Pup prototype, DH Leopard Moth, Piper Cub, Yak 50 and a pair of DH Chipmunks!

This free event was a fine way to mark over 2 decades of opening during which time the Museum has never charged an entry fee and relies on donations to survive.

The Museum is very grateful to readers for their kind donation of military/aviation books, model kits and accessories and diecast models earlier in the year which helped raise funds at a recent book sale – more are always sought to help fund the Jetstream restoration – if you can help please get in touch.

The Museum is open weekends & Bank Holidays 1030-1630 until the end of September and Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons 1200-1600 from Mid May to Mid October. Entry is free, donations welcome.

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


Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

Sywell Aviation Museum

Dear all, sadly as expected the Sywell Aviation Museum Trustees have decided to cancel the Grand Opening on 11th April 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The safety of our visitors and our own trustees and members remains paramount at all times so we’re sure that you will understand our decision.

Further, the Museum will remain closed throughout April and May but we aim to reopen on Saturday 6th June 2020 (without a Grand opening) subject to the situation with coronavirus at that time.

We’re really disappointed too as we have worked really hard over the closed season to get ready to welcome you all and of course the lack of income will have an impact on us as well.

Nonetheless nothing is important as everyone’s health and we’d like to thank you all for your continued support and interest in Sywell Aviation Museum.

We hope to see you later in the year and in the meantime wish you and yours all the best. Stay safe!

The Sywell Aviation Museum Team

The Sywell Aviation Museum Grand Opening 2020 – 11th April 2020

Friday, February 21st, 2020

Sywell Aviation Museum

The Sywell Aviation Museum reopens for its 19th season as traditional, on Easter Saturday – 11th April 2020. The free event includes visiting aircraft cockpits, military vehicles, re-enactors and more and maybe some aerial visitors!

Open from 1030-1630 hours the Museum is then open for the season every weekend and bank holiday between 1030-1630hrs until the end of September and every Tuesday/Wednesday between 1200-1600hrs from the end of May to the end of October.

Sywell Aviation Museum Scoops Heritage Award

Wednesday, July 10th, 2019

Sywell Heritage Award

On 4th July 2019 the Sywell Aviation Museum was awarded The Peoples’ Choice Award for Best Museum at the Northants Heritage Awards held at Holdenby House, Northants. The award was voted for by members of the public and the Museum fought off stiff competition from much larger municipal museums and stately homes secure the most public votes. Many thanks to all those who voted!

Photo – Mike Goodman and David Knight receiving the award

Hunter F2 ‘Heidi’ Restoration Complete

Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

Hawker Hunter at Sywell

On the 20th April 2019 the Sywell Aviation Museum Grand Opening saw the final unveiling of Hawker Hunter F.2 WN904 ‘Heidi’ after her 6 year long restoration. Only 45 F.2s were made – WN904 is the last complete example. F.2s were only flown by 257 and 263 Squadron. Heidi was flown exclusively with 257 as ‘Q Queenie’. VIP guests attended with a close connection to the F.2. On 6th March 1956, Flying Officer Denis Richard Courtney Whiteman took off on a routine night time cross country training flight in Hawker Hunter F.2 WN921 of 263 Sqn from Wattisham. He never returned and no wreckage was found. He was 23 years old leaving two young children. His daughter, Mary-Ann Andrews contacted the Museum last year when she discovered SAM had an F.2 and wanted to come and see it.

At the opening she and her brother Peter were witness to a surprise as whilst the Hunter’s port side is marked as it would have been in service with 257 Sqn, the starboard side has been finished in the colours of 263 Sqn, as WN921, their father’s own aeroplane, as a memorial to him. A short dedication by the Vicar of Sywell and Mears Ashby and the sounding of The Last Post followed.

Geoff Millward also attended as a VIP as his brother Dick Millward probably flew Heidi when on 257 in the 1950s before moving on to an illustrious RAF career.

The jet was formerly part of the IWM collection displayed on the gate at Waterbeach until the barracks closed in 2012 when she was gifted to the Sywell Aviation Museum as their first ever complete airframe. She has been restored as close to stock as possible including the addition of her radar, gun camera, restored ejection seat, cockpit and gunsight under the supervision of project manager and Museum Trustee, Damien Burke. Roundels and squadron markings designed by him were kindly supplied by local firm Sprint Graphics. Funding has been entirely through donations from the public and sales of donated model kits and aviation books (for which the Museum is always grateful).

Sywell Aviation Museum is now open every weekend and bank holiday 1030-1630 and Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 1200-1600hrs until the end of September. Group Bookings available outside hours. email or call 07968061708 for more info.

2019 Events at Sywell

Monday, January 21st, 2019

Sywell aviation museum

27th January 2019 – TALK – Mike Hallett – W/C H BLACKBURN 1430 Cirrus Room

17th February 2019 – TALK – Brian Mann – THE AVRO CANADA STORY 1430 Cirrus Room

24th March 2019 – TALK – P Fitxgerald – IN PRAISE OF THE C130 – 1430 Cirrus Room

14th April 2019 – TALK – Cliff Hill – SPITFIRE MT627 TBC – 1430 Cirrus Room

20th April 2019 – Sywell Aviation Museum GRAND OPENING 2019

20th-23rd June 2019 – British Aerobatic Championships

27th-28th July 2019 – ATOMIC Festival*

30th August – 1st Sept 2019 – LAA Rally*

14th September 2019 – Young Aviators Day

21st-22nd September 2019 – Sywell Classic Pistons & Props