Whilst Helicopters, Gliders, Microlights and other highly developed fixed wing aircraft offer us the flying days and experiences of today that we offer, it’s always good to have an insight into what came before it that made all this possible.
Many heritage aircraft are no longer able to get airborne, and if they are then they’re certainly not seen flying all that regularly. But fortunately, there is a way to see them with the many aviation and aerospace museums that are located across the UK.
At FlyDays, we’ve taken a look and bought together a list of some of our airfields that house such museums on their sites, and who knows? A trip through flying history and the chance to make flying day history of your own could all be possible on the same day!
A former RAF base during World War II, and with many of its original structures from that time still standing today, it should come as no surprise to learn that Carlisle Airport has a museum on site to honour its part in military aviation and also the innovation in aircraft from the dawn of the jet age.
The Solway Aviation Museum was first opened in 1961, and houses a number of wonderful exhibits from the WWII period, including access to the cockpit of a Vulcan bomber plane, a collection of aero engines, a recreation of the old control room (pictured above), and a number of heritage fixed wing aircraft including Avros and Hawkers.
The museum is open seasonally, from every April to October, and is run by a small team of staff, including local volunteer tour guides and counter assistants in the museum’s gift shop and restaurant.
Although flying days and experiences ceased at Weston Super Mare Airport in 2012, the south eastern corner of the old air base is still home to The Helicopter Museum, which is the world’s largest dedicated helicopter exhibition.
The museum as we know it today was opened back in 1989, but the origins of the private collection - founded by aviation writer and historian Elfan ap Rees - date back to 1958, with some of the collection being shown intermittently on and off over the course of the 1970s on a small corner of the airfield, following his purchase of a complete Bristol Sycamore Mk 3 helicopter in 1969.
Heritage Lottery Grant funding has seen to it that the museum has grown substantially over the last 30 years, with 80 different British, European and American helicopters alone on exhibition in the collection, with many currently undergoing loving restoration work to be made airborne again.
Formerly known as the Caernarfon Aviation Museum, and situated on the airbase of Caernarfon Airport on the west coast of Wales overlooking the Irish Sea, the Airworld Aviation Museum first opened in 1988, and is home to a number of iconic flying machines of yesteryear, including Hawker Hurricanes and the last remaining T2 BAe Harrier.
But just as worthy of attraction is the exhibit that focuses on the creation of the RAF Mountain Rescue Service, which was established on site at Caernarfon in 1942, and which is the UK military's only all-weather search and rescue asset which remains in operation today.
The museum also has links with two other local museums and exhibitions, namely the Home Front Museum, based in Llandudno, and the Penmaenmawr Historical Society & Museum, based in what was the Old Post Office in the village of Penmaenmawr in North Wales.