Duxford Aircraft Museum visit Sun 11th Feb.
I’ve always wanted to visit Duxford (conveniently just off the M11) so was very happy when Brian organised a trip there. What a glorious winter Sunday morning, blue skies and bright sun to lift the heart. By the time we got there it was all change, positively “dreich”. What a wonderful Scottish word! Grey skies, rain and sleet. Were we downhearted? Well, only slightly. There was so much to see. I dived into the Battle of Britain hangar realising my grasp of this piece of history left much to be desired. Lots of volunteers around to chat and inform. What would we do without our retiree volunteers? Had a close encounter with a V1 bomb and its ramp. How terrifying every piece of new bomb technology must have been to those waiting down below! The operations room was near this hangar. That was something I really wanted to see and it didn’t disappoint.
There were about seven hangars in all each with a different theme. What a delight to be able to walk around Concord. I had no idea it was so small, only having seen it flying over Kew Gardens and it looked huge then. Next time, I’ll get to that building in time to see Concord’s interior. There will be a next time I’m sure. There’s far more here than one visit can satisfy. We all thoroughly enjoyed our day out and each one of us managed to resist buying a sheepskin lined pilot’s jacket at a mere £500 or so. We’re made of strong stuff. Thanks to Brian for organising it.
Marian T., 13th February 2018
Imperial War Museum, Duxford
After a dreadful Saturday it was a relief to see the sun shining in a blue sky as we drove up the M11 to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford. It was still February and cold but at least there was no rain.
Eleven of us turned up and then went our separate ways over the large expanse of the old wartime airfield. Several of us went straight to Hangar One, recently refurbished. It was very well laid out, including a Concorde and a Comet that we could walk through, a Vulcan, Lightning, Spitfire and many other aeroplanes. There were also static displays of other aspects of a wartime airfield. The contents of this hangar alone took more than an hour to view. Children also were well catered for (it was the start of half term) with many interactive displays.
By the time we had viewed the work being done on aeroplanes in Hangar Two we were ready for lunch, some of us bringing our own, some buying meals at one of the restaurants. After lunch we again scattered, some of us working our way up the airfield visiting each hangar and display in turn. We saw work being done by volunteers on many historic aircraft, a display of the operations room in wartime, a prefab bungalow of the type hurriedly erected after WW11, a V1 rocket and launcher and then arrived at the American museum.
The American museum is a marvellous display, including the bombers Flying Fortress, Superfortress and Stratofortress, in order of development and size. The pilot who landed the mighty eight engine Stratofortress on the tiny airstrip must have …… been very tough. It was interesting to note there was some rivalry between the US manufacturers, with the builders of the Consolidated B-24 Liberator extolling its virtues over the equivalent Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. Many other planes are displayed here, including the fastest air breathing jet, the Blackbird, which could exceed 2,000 mph, and the U2 which supposedly could fly so high that it was immune from attack, or so it was believed until Gary Powers’ time.
Finally, at the top of the museum’s airfield, there is the Land Army exhibition. This used to be set out in date order but now seems to be mixed together, with less emphasis on the older wars. The photo shows a few of us standing in front of one of the displays, in this case a tank coming out of a destroyed building. There was a very good interactive display of the Normandy landings.
Then it was the long walk back down the airfield, hurrying as the clouds grew thicker and the wind increased. We had been at the museum five hours and still missed some exhibits. It is a very big place. Driving back down the M11 snow and sleet started falling. Perfect timing!
Brian U., 15th February 2018