We travelled from Liverpool Street train station in London to Whittlesford Parkway and after a short walk from the station caught the 7A bus which stops and picks up outside the main entrance to the museum, be warned though the bus is currently cash only and is a typical rural service running infrequently with the last pick up from IWM Duxford shortly after the museum closes, further info can be found here.
Our reason for this excursion was for Martin to channel his inner Biggles via a Tiger Moth flight experience booked through IWM Duxford’s on-site partners Classic Wings. Other planes available to book for flights include T6 Harvard, Dragon Rapide and the ultimate aviation dream the iconic Spitfire.
Martin’s booking was originally for an afternoon slot but when we headed over to Classic Wings to check when we needed to be there for the pre flight briefing we were offered an earlier slot which we accepted as it meant we only had to wait around 40 minutes before Martin could take to the skies (see photo below).
Included in the flight experience were the loan of a flying jacket, helmet and goggles. Classic Wings also provide photos and a USB or DVD to commemorate your flight at additional costs.
It’s also worth noting that the duration of the flight experiences are in the minutes shown chock to chock (aircraft brakes off to brakes on). I didn’t realise this and thought it was the time you were up in the air and very nearly missed Martin landing!
The staff at Classic Wings we spoke to were very helpful and friendly, I think Martin obviously enjoyed being up in the air as he was sorely tempted to book another flight in a different aircraft!
Thanks to the booking being bought forward we were then able to explore the museum at our leisure rather than having to rush over for our time slot.
IWM Duxford is Britain’s largest aviation museum with over 200 planes, tanks and boats on show. Situated within one of the best-preserved Second World War airfields (formerly RAF Duxford) it’s been featured in numerous films and TV programmes including Battle of Britain and Guy Martin’s Spitfire.
Walking through the same hangars and buildings as those who served at RAF Duxford, there is a sense of bygone days in the air which is explored in the history of Duxford building, detailing the life and work of the men and women who were stationed here.
Featuring close to a century of aviation history there is absolutely loads to see, if you were visiting for an airshow you would definitely need to make a two day trip of it. As we had the flight experience we didn’t quite make it all the way round to see Concorde in the Airspace area or explore the Land Warfare Hall where Monty’s caravans are stationed.
It’s a fairly flat site but I would suggest wearing comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking if you don’t make use of the free buses onsite.
Whilst my curiosity in planes tends to involve spotting ones with unusual designs or colours rather than any knowledge of engines and so forth I found there was plenty of other points of interest such as the American Air Museum which housed a section of the Berlin Wall and a piece of Twin Towers wreckage. The display of planes suspended from the ceiling looked amazing I particularly liked the Boeing PT-17 Stearman Kaydet which was used to train novice pilots.
The 1940s Operation Room was another highlight for me, this was the nerve centre of Duxford’s Battle of Britain where the station’s pilots were directed into combat. Unfortunately there were barriers in front of the recreated Operations Room so you couldn’t pretend you were in the Second World War and interact with the equipment.
If you’re an aircraft afficidenado as well as the various planes on display there’s also a conservation services area and an aircraft restoration building both of which you can see aircrafts in different stages of refurbishment.
I’d certainly make a return journey to take in the areas we missed on this visit. I think it would be a fun experience to go on an air show day to see historic aircraft take to the skies.
IWM Duxford gets a big thumbs up from me!
For opening times and ticket prices click here