With the holidays here, we’ve been thinking about ways to explore the military heritage of the UK. Combining entertainment and education, the following are just a few of the places in the UK relating to the Royal Air Force which can make a great day out.
The Royal Air Force Museum
Where: There are actually two locations which are home to the RAF Museum, one in Cosford and one in London. The addresses are as follows: Royal Air Force Museum Cosford, Shifnal, Shropshire TF11 8UP and RAF Museum London, Grahame Park Way, London, NW9 5LL
Why: Both sites are packed with spectacular aircraft, both offer free admission and both come with a host of extra displays, activities and features. There are over 100 aircraft at the London base and 70 at Cosford. Highlights across the two sites include flight simulators, the chance to sit in the cockpit of a legendary Spitfire and interactive galleries bringing the science of flight to life.
Imperial War Museum
Where: Again, the Imperial War Museum has more than one location, with the largest and most well-known of the five centres being based in London, at the following address:Imperial War Museum (IWM) London, Lambeth Road, London SE1 6HZ
Why: Although not strictly devoted to the RAF alone, the IWM includes many of the most important aspects of the history of the force as it tells the fully rounded story of the experience of warfare, from World War One to the modern day. Combining education with spectacle, the IWM includes exhibits such as a room dedicated to the dangerous and fascinating world of espionage and a gift shop selling a range of bespoke items modelled on some of the most famous aircraft ever.
The Science Museum
Where: The Science Museum is based in London at the following address: Science Museum, Exhibition Rd, Kensington, London SW7 2DD
Why: As if the many hundreds of exhibits telling the story of scientific advancement through the ages wasn’t enough, the Science Museum also allows visitors the chance to sample the excitement and adrenaline rush of flying in a Red Arrow. Located in the Fly Zone, the Red Arrows 3D is a high tech experience which mimics not just the sights and sounds but also the physical sensation of performing the kind of breath-taking stunts which have made the Red Arrows world famous.
Newark Air Museum
Where: the museum is based in Nottinghamshire, and the full address is: Newark Air Museum, Drove Lane, Newark, Nottinghamshire, NG24 2NY
Why: If you’re into planes (or have a child who finds them endlessly fascinating) then Newark Air Museum is the first, last and best attraction in the UK. Located at RAF Winthorpe, a former World War Two airfield, it is home to a collection of more than 70 aircraft, many of which are of huge historical significance. If you’re lucky enough to visit on a day when there are plenty of volunteers in the museum, there’s a chance that you might even have access to the cockpits of some of the most famous planes ever to take to the sky.