RAF Museum London

 

During a recent visit to see my partner Martin who lives in London we were trawling through the listings on the Londonist site to find something fun to do that would appeal to both of us  and we stumbled across an entry for the Hendon Pageant at the RAF Museum London.

Promising pop-up vintage fairs, live music, engine displays, a model hot air balloon display, a vintage fairground and a flypast, the Hendon Pageant sounded like there would be something for both of us to enjoy. We decided to visit on the Saturday leg of the event (1st June).

RAF Museum London was a short walk from Colindale Station and the weather was a glorious summer’s day.  After a quick perusal of the vintage clothes and homeware stalls inside we headed outside for the Merlin engine demonstration.

I made the rookie mistake of standing behind the engine and Martin kindly advised that we ought to stand to the side to view the demonstration. I was glad I listened to him as once it started up and went to full throttle the spectators who were stood behind it were getting blown about!

We stayed outside for a while listening to the vintage sounds of the Barn-Ettes and Hot Swing Boheme waiting for the flyover which was scheduled within a half hour block however as it was getting rather hot outside and there wasn’t any sign of the flyover we headed into one of the nearby hangars to view the aircraft on display. Of course after about 5 minutes we heard the rumble overhead from the Dakota aircraft flying over the hangar we were in!

There were six hangars altogether which celebrate and commemorate the Royal Air Force from its formation in 1918 right up to present day. Considering most of my knowledge of the RAF has come from films such as Reach For The Sky and more recently Hurricane it was fascinating to find out more about it’s history.

Whilst the museum itself was free to get in, there were some activities such as The Spitfire Experience which had a charge for entry. 

We didn’t bother with any of the paid exhibits but there was still plenty to do with lots of interactive features such as walking through a Short Sunderland, hands on digital experiences where you could complete various RAF missions and even general knowledge of the 1980s and 1990s.

If like me you’re not a huge aviation buff I think you’ll still enjoy the various artefacts in the collection such as the lucky mascot ‘Scotch Jock’, the Jack Russell in uniform and the display of RAF squadron badges.

Here’s a selection of aircraft and vehicles that caught my eye during our visit:

Curtiss Kittyhawk IV

de Havilland Chipmunk

Supermarine Spitfire I

North American P-51D Mustang

Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer S2B

I found the museum on the whole to be very modern and slick however I think it was let down by the model animals such as the hippo pictured below as they were looking a bit shabby and unless you read the signs near them it wasn’t obvious why they were there. Indeed one young visitor who was in front of us loudly exclaimed to his parents “why’s there a hippo?”

With a playground for under elevens, a grassy area, a large cafe and a shop that sold everything from toy planes to Airfix kits and leather flying jackets it’s an ideal place for families to visit.

The RAF Museum London is open from 10am daily, entry is free, however there are charges for selected activities. Check out their events listings here to see what’s coming up next.

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