Always a favourite stop off on a drive down to the west country, the Army Flying Museum at Middle Wallop tells the story of, as the name suggests, British Army aviation. While a great deal of this story is told by rotary wing types, there are a number of interesting fixed wing machines and gliders on display too. The museum has always had a great atmosphere and great cafe with a view across the airfield too!
It was great to hear that plans were in place for a major upgrade over the winter of 2019/20 featuring new displays and a large scale reshuffle of the exhibits. I got a chance to take a look around last month and wanted to share my thoughts.
You notice the upgrade right from arrival with the first hangar with a great audio-visual display introducing the early history of British Military aviation. As before the original Sopwith Pup sits proud as one of the first machines you see, now displayed a little better than before.
A Westland Lynx is the first helicopter you come to, which together with a nearby Westland Scout offer the chance to get on board and experience the tight confines of these flying machines.
The largest obvious change in the first hangar is the addition of a Britten-Norman Defender displayed in a striking fashion elevated on plinths above at balcony level. This more modern-day example of the Air Corps helps bring the story up to date.
Its worth noting that it isn’t just the aircraft themselves that tell this story so well but also the impressive array of displays, dioramas and immersive walk-through exhibits (such as the Hamilcar nose section).
The larger hangar is still home to the collection of WW2 gliders, which are unique in themselves but now houses and impressive collection of attack helicopters.
Across the far wall of the hangar, each displayed at a different attitude are a Bell Cobra, Westland Lynx, Westland Scout, Augusta 109 (suspended low level with gear up) and Bell Huey (what rotary collection would be complete without a Huey?). Regardless of your preferences you can’t help but be impressed by this display.
The museum has managed to achieve giving itself a new energy while still retaining the wonderful atmosphere it always had.
The café is still great too and it was a nice treat to see the modern day Army Air Corps active with the Grob Tutor and Apache out on the airfield. No doubt one day an Apache will join the museum’s collection to bring the story right up to date.