RNAS Yeovilton, Ilchester, Somerset BA22 8HT, United Kingdom
Tel.: 01935 840 565 „
My partner recently had a week off work and the weather was terrible so after spending 3 days staying at home getting very bored I decided to search the internet for somewhere to visit that was suitable for when it was raining.
I cam across the Fleet Air Arm Museum website, I had herd a lot about this place before but had never been, so we jumped in our car and off we went.
On our arrival we parked up in the free car park and headed to the entrance (I just happened to notice a few young men in uniform guarding the airbase lol), you head up a flight of stairs to get in and as soon as you step in the door you are surrounded by pictures of the displays etc and you get the feeling straight away that is going to be a good day.
Entrance prices are £11 per adult & £8 per child or two adults and three children for £35, I didn't think the price was to bad, seemed about average for a attraction these days.
Once you make your way into the first hall you see a collection of experiments, they are glass cases with planes in and they show you how the various parts of a plane work (you turn different wheels and it operates the flaps etc), its a nice way to start the tour, the children get to have a play but are also learning whilst they are doing it.
Then you move onto hall one, this had all the old world war one planes in it, each plane has its own section where you an have a good look around it and read lots of information about the engines it has and guns etc, I could not believe that half if these things would actually fly let alone fight other planes. There are also lots of glass cases with old guns, medals and uniforms etc in them. Having a look at the website it looks like this hall is being redeveloped at them moment so there may not be much in here now.
You then move onto hall two containing World War Two planes and planes from the Korean War, again its pretty much like hall one, each plane is in its separate section so you can have a good look around and read lots of info on them. You can go inside some of the planes and some have steps up to the cotpit allowing you a good look inside. There is also a exhibit on the WRNS (Women's Royal Naval Service).
Now I loved this next bit, to get into hall three you have to get on to a Wessex helicopter, basically you get into the helicopter through the side door and then the door shuts, you the hear radio transmissions, hear the engines fire up & it starts vibrating as if you where actually flying, the kids would love this its a great way of capturing their imagination (you can skip this section if you don't fancy it). Once the helicopter stops the opposite side door opens and you find yourself on the deck of an aircraft carrier.
There are 10 aircraft on this display and two massive video screens at each end, one has a plane in front of it and every so often they show you how they launch the plane and the other shows a rescue involving a helicopter, its a brilliant display, very well thought out.
Once you have looked around the flight deck you then make your way into the ship, you get taken on a tour of the various rooms, you wait at a door & a light will come on telling you to enter the rooms then you will hear a recording of what the room is and what each person is responsible for in that room. This was an excellent display, it gave you loads of information and its incredibly educational for children (and adults, I was surprised at how much I learnt).
Finally you move onto hall four which has the first British built Concorde in it, you can head up the steps at the back and go inside this plane (I couldn't believe how small it was inside), you get to see all of it inside including the cotpit. This hall also has various other aircraft to look around.
The viewing are is also a good idea, you can head here to see which planes and helicopters landing and taking off, the museum is based at RNAS Yeovilton so being a military air station there is usually something going on for you to look at.
This was a fantastic day out, both me and my partner really enjoyed ourselves and cant wait until our daughter is old enough to appreciate it.
If you think you may head here more than once in a year then they do a season ticket, its £16 for an adult, £13 for a child or £40 for two adults and three children.
They have a website www.fleetairarm.com, this gives you pretty much all the information you need to know & gives you directions etc so you wont get lost finding it.
Where to start, this museum is great value for money.
Upon ariving at the fleet air arm museum you enter a large car park. Don't be put off by the armed guards opposite the museum they are there because that part is the operational base. When you arrive you may see some harrier jump jets taking off.
Opposite the car park is a resturant but I cant comment on it as we didnt go in. We brought our own food as you can get pass outs from the museum.
From the car park which is free to enter the museum you climb up a flight of stairs.
There is an interative display imdediately after you go in. This was fun to have a go on.
I would recommend going on the air craft carrier exprience. This starts off by entering a stationary helicopter and they simuatle you having a flight on it. Then you are walked through a simualation of life on board an air craft carrier.
Another thing I enjoyed going on was the simualtor ride although you have to pay extra for this (I think it was about a £1).
Inside the big air craft hanger is various planes. The main one is an old concorde which was originally used for testing. You can walk through this plane from end to end.
Another part of the museum is where you can enter a viewing platform to watch planes and helicopter taking off from the base. Beware though in the sun it tends to heat up like a greenhouse.
There is also a display of the history of the plane from the wright brothers right through the wars upto the present day. This is a fascinating display that is well worth a look.
Upon leaving you go through the shop. This wasnt busy or crowded. It had many different souviners to buy at different prices. Worth a look round anway.
This museum is definately an all day museum. It can take you ages to get round it all without repeating yourself once so make sure if your visiting allow yourself plenty of time.
The museum though is mainly for 10+.
It was a warm day but there were threatening clouds on the horizon and so an indoor activity seemed best to entertain my visiting friend. It was our very own Iain Wear and, making a sweeping generalisation in my own mind, I thought ?He?s a bloke. He?s bound to like planes?. And so the trip to the Fleet Air Arm Museum became top of the agenda. The museum is near Yeovilton in Somerset and is absolutely enormous; it covers an area of 6.5 acres! They advise that you allow 4 hours to cover the museum but if you are an aviation fanatic and will want to read all the interesting blurb alongside the exhibits, you will need a lot longer. FIRST FLOOR EXHIBITIONS After you have handed over your hard earned money (and although it may seem like a lot at the time, it is actually extremely good value in terms of the amount of time it will keep you and your children amused for), you walk through into the first room, which is actually on the first floor. This room contains the Leading Edge Exhibition. You will find that your children rush off excitedly, as everything in this room is ?hands on?. There are various machines, each of which is designed to demonstrate something about the mechanics of an aeroplane. For example, there is a wind tunnel with a model aeroplane in it and you must control the rudder and see what effect the movement of it has on the plane. Needless to say the children were keen on these exhibits but luckily for me, children are small and so easy to push aside in order to get a go on the machines yourself. As you walk through to the next street you begin to think that you may have accidentally stepped through a time portal because before you stretches an old street set in the First World War period. You can peer through the windows into the houses and in these you will see mothers listening to the radio while children play with toy aeroplanes. The rooms are full of artefacts from the time and each is described in detai
l on a nearby key. Unfortunately the people in the displays do not look as well preserved as the items. The models are very unusual looking and it is best to avoid looking them directly in the eye if you want to avoid nightmares for the next couple of weeks. The following rooms contain a Skua display, a Telegraphist Air Gunner display, a Swordfish display and most interestingly a WRNS display. The area dedicated to the Wrens is very informative. There are numerous boards containing photographs, text about their role in the war, the jobs they carried out etc. There are also several glass cases with models wearing the varying Wrens? uniforms from over the years. It is enjoyable to read about some of the real life stories of some of the Wrens and the good deeds they performed. And, for the children, there is a large map with buttons to press, which then light up bulbs indicating where the Wrens were stationed during each war. As you walk towards the next room you begin to fear that you may be landed on my a helicopter. The noise from a Merlin helicopter is piped through the sound system as you approach the Merlin Experience. Here there are videos to watch telling you about the history of the helicopter and, most excitingly, there is a touch screen game to play in which you have to attempt to locate and destroy a submarine with your Merlin helicopter. Next to this exhibition is the Viewing Room, where you can sit and watch military types from the nearby base pootling about in their aeroplanes. This will be where many of you ladies will want to spend most of your time. After all, you can never spend enough time watching men in uniform! GROUND FLOOR EXHIBITIONS Hall 1 is dedicated to the First World War. There are several real life aircraft, each manned by a not so real life scary mannequin. Amongst these is a Sopwith Camel, which those of you with sharp eyes will notice has had a small model camel (animal not pl
ane) perched on its wheels. You can read about planes taking off from aircraft carriers (and see the amusing photos of ones which did more of a dive into the sea rather than a leap into the sky), the Battle of Jutland and see artefacts from the period from both the Allied and German forces. It could be said that only one hall is not sufficient to cover all the information that could be given about World War One. However, in the museum?s defence 6.5 acres and 4 hours is enough for one museum and they have tried to pick major events from the war and made the information come to life with the inclusion of items belonging to soldiers or from the aircraft. At the opposite end of Hall 1 is a Between the Wars Exhibition. Here there is a little stand for each year, 1919 to 1938, with some interesting events that happened in each illustrated by photos and with appropriate sounds from the era playing. This sets the scene for your entrance into Hall 2. You will not be surprised to hear that Hall 2 contains the Second World War Exhibition. You have to navigate your way around various planes, one of which appears to have crashed (not surprising looking at the mannequin pilot who appears less than capable). A bamboo hut contains a Korean War Exhibition and an impressive Oriental archway leads through into a Kamikaze section. This mainly consists of text detailing the Kamikaze attacks which took place during the war. There is also a video to watch and another hands on display where you can press buttons to create different type of gunfire (don?t ask me what it is doing within the Kamikaze section ? they obviously ran out of room!). Disappointingly there is not very much information about the Kamikaze pilots themselves, the ethos or the rituals. One part of the exhibit gave me a taste of what this would have been like; the airforce would refuse volunteers for the Kamikaze unit from men who were only children. One mother wrote a letter to her only son?s
commanding officer begging him to accept her son?s offer to become a Kamikaze pilot in order that he may die for the honour of Japan. Hall 3 contains possibly the most entertaining part of the museum. As this is the case and as exploring this hall takes up to an hour, it may be advisable to visit it earlier in your trip to the museum if you are short of time. Here is a large mockup of an aircraft carrier. You see the top of the carrier, with planes standing on its runway and one taking off (thanks to a combination of light and sound tricks). You enter the carrier via a simulation helicopter ride and then are greeted by a sailor who will give you a tour of the craft. The sailor is another scary model but this time he has a freaky beard and surprises you by popping out of cupboards and uttering inanities such as ?There you are moi maties?. However, the tour of the carrier is very interesting and you get to see the bridge, the NAAFI, officers? quarters etc. Between Hall 3 and 4 there are some other smaller exhibitions about recent conflicts and the modern Royal Navy. You may find, as we did, that my this stage in the game you are running short on time and so your exploration of this part is a tad briefer than you would have preferred. Hall 4, however, is worth spending time in. The hall contains numerous real full sized aircraft and you can walk up to and touch each one. Every plane has a touch screen monitor beside it and you can choose to watch videos giving information about the facts and figures of the plane, its working history, stories from pilots etc. Most imposing within the hall is Concorde! You can climb inside and wander through into the cockpit. I have never seen so many wires and dials in my entire life and I can?t imagine how the pilots can possibly remember what everything is for! When you finally drag yourself and your children away from the last aeroplane you find yourself back at the entrance and in t
he gift shop. The gift shop contains the usual tat: over priced rubbers, coloured pencils, model aircraft etc, which the children are bound to love! After 4 hours of museum viewing you may well feel the need for a cup of tea and wish to take advantage of the museum?s restaurant which is only a few yards from the main entrance (or, as in Iain?s case, you may be gasping for not caffeine but nicotine!). OPENING HOURS The museum is open every day except 24, 25 and 26 December. April to October: 10.00 am to 5.30 pm November to March: 10.00 am to 4.30 pm Last admission is 90 minutes prior to the closing time and the last tour of the aircraft carrier happens 1 hour before the close. ENTRANCE FEES Adult: £8.50 Child: £5.75 Senior Citizen: £6.75 (they must get more pocket money than children) Family ticket: £27.00 OTHER INFORMATION Location: The museum is on the B3151, off the A202/A37 at RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset. Take Junction 25 from the M5. Tel: 01935 840565 Website: www.fleetairarm.com