Monday, 3 October 2011

Fleet Air Arm Museum, Somerset

We needed somewhere dry to visit when the great British weather took a turn for very wet during our holiday so we headed for Fleet Air Arm Museum.
The museum holds Europe's largest naval aviation collection across 4 halls and a gallery. It really was huge. As you enter there were some hands-on experiments related to flight, really great for explaining to children how aeroplanes fly and what rudders etc do. The next 2 halls had a bit about the history of flight, with some old aircraft and a interesting timeline on the wall, some recent aircraft you will possibly recognise if you're not big into planes (sea king for example) and then aircraft related to WW2 and the korean War. As adults we found the Kamikaze exhibition really interesting, this was a subject I knew nothing about, and with the story told from both sides made it all the more interesting.
Hall 3 was the most interesting for everyone in the group and really well displayed. You "take off" in a helicopter and "land" on board an aircraft carrier (this felt very real to Charlotte as she thought we had left Uncle and Auntie behind). The re-creation was so well done with take offs and landings happening from each end of the flight deck, we then went on board the ship to look round the operation rooms and cabins. The experience ended with an air-sea rescue which was very dramatic (especially for little ones).
The last hall held the first British built Concorde which you could go inside, it was used as a test plane in the 70's so was full of test equipment, all of which could now be run on a laptop! There were also other aircraft showing off the best of the best in British aircraft. There was also a sea king helicopter flight simulator (cost extra) which we enjoyed.
The museum was really popular with families and was easily accessible for pushchairs and baby change facilities, the entrance was on the first floor but there is an alternative ground floor entrance. There was also a cafe offering reasonable food.
Under 5's are free and we thought the price for adults at first was a little steep but there was so much to see it was almost value for money, and if you are local gift aid your ticket and you have free entry for a year.
This isn't the type of museum we would usually visit but we really enjoyed our day. Find out more on their website http://www.fleetairarm.com/

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