"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Posted on September 24, 2019 by Sioux under General
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We had seen a directional board for the Yeovilton Fleet Air Arm Museum, and with both of us having a keen interest in anything that flies, we decided it would be the perfect place for our first stop off en-route to Torquay.

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Opened in 1964, the museum is dedicated to the history of  British

naval aviation, and showcases Europe’s largest collection of R.N.

aircraft, dating back to the early days of airships and fabric-covered

wooden biplanes to modern jet aircraft and helicopters; military and civilian aircraft, aero engines, models of aircraft and Royal Navy ships. Pretty much anything related to naval aviation and its history – right up my & Paul’s interest-alley!

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A 1937 Air Ministry “scramble bell”, which would be rung when incoming enemy planes were spotted.

The Sopwith Baby a small, fast and very manoeuvrable plane was used as a scouter plane, bomber and Zeppelin fighter!

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This Sea Vampire is the actual plane that made the first ever at-sea landing onto an aircraft carrier, in 1945.

Concorde 002, the 2nd prototype made its maiden flight from the British Aircraft Corporation’s plant 1969 and after 7 years of extensive supersonic testing, the last flight was made to the Fleet Air Arm Museum 1976, on permanent display. Its main purpose was to act as a test and development aircraft for the fleet of 16 Concordes that were to be built for Air France and British Airways.

 

The magnificent aircraft first achieved supersonic speed in 1970 reaching the speed of Mach 1.15; and hit the maximum speed of Mach 2.05 (approx 1,350 mph) in 1971. We were both surprised as to how small the wheels were, considering the size of the plane!

From the time we walked in, we were both fascinated by the eclectic collection of aircraft, from helicopters to fighter jets and even the Concorde!

Inside one of the halls, we went on the ‘Air Craft Carrier experience’, entering via a simulated helicopter flight to a carrier at sea, which then ‘lands’ you on the flight deck.

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A very real looking display showing a WREN despatch rider during WW1. The riders, staff of Naval Intelligence, had to go into bombed cities and dockyard areas during the dark, locating and collecting unexploded bombs and ammunition for research purposes. Due to the extreme dangers, recruitment was halted early in the war years, making the WRENS a very elite group.

This bell belonged to the HMS Vindex, a Nairana-class

escort carrier in service during WW2. Launched as an escort

carrier, Vindex entered service at the end of 1943, escorting

convoys and doing anti-submarine work in the Atlantic and Arctic.

Swordfish aircraft off the carrier were involved in sinking four U-boats during service. The ship survived the war, was decommissioned and sold for commercial use in 1947 and scrapped in 1971.

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From there a visitor experiences aircraft landing and taking off, via loudspeakers and recorded voice from an actual carrier, aswell as a guided tour of the HMS Ark Royal.

The entire hall has been converted into a mock-up of the fleet carrier as it would have appeared in the 1970s.

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A thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable visit.

 

We stayed for a bite to eat and then headed on our way.

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One response to “Road trips and adventures #6 – a history of wings and waters.”

  1. Cheryl Wilkinson says:

    Fascinating S! I worked for Denel Aviation for a few years in Atlas Road. I worked for Falk Wilscher – Helicopter division while the Rooivalk was being commissioned etc. One morning they surprised me and I got to have an experience in the Oryx Helicopter. I love your info you shared thank you!

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