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Yorkshire Air Museum (York)

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Address: Yorkshire Air Museum / Elvington / York YO41 4AU

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      25.08.2011 08:53
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      A fun family day out in Yorkshire with lots of planes and WW2 memorabilia

      Despite living in York for over 15 years now this weekend was the first time I have visited the Yorkshire Air Museum on the outskirts of York at Elvington, it is definitely somewhere I am sure I will be visiting again. The Yorkshire air museum is an independent museum and hence not covered by the free museum scheme. Also I think to refer to this as just an air museum is a tad inaccurate really as it is also home to a lot of World War 2 information as it is situated on the former World War II RAF Bomber Command Station at Elvington. The museum is the largest and most original WWII station open to the public at present, with a lot of exhibits on this as well as the information and exhibits on the French Heavy Bomber Squadron that was also based there during the war.

      How to get there
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      The museum is well severed by two buses that run past the entrance there is the X44 bus service that links the Museum with York Rail Station as well as the City Centre so it is very easy to get to on day trips. There is also the bus service that runs to Elvington village the N0.36. Tourist Information will be able to provide information on how to get there.

      By road the museum is seven miles to the eastern outskirts of The City of York If you have Sat Nav postcode is YO41 4AU

      From the York Outer Bypass /A64, you follow the National Air Museum Brown signs around the bypass toward the A1079 (Hull) junction. There is then a very quick left hand turn that takes you through some traffic lights you continue to follow the brown signs to the Air Museum along the B1228 along Elvington Lane. This is a bit twisty with a few sharp bends so take your time. There is plenty of parking at the museum and on event days like when we visited they use the air field for parking so this is immense so there is never any problems getting a space.


      Our experience
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      We had decided as our son loves transport things and he has never been on a plane that we would take him here. After finding the museum without any problems we realized we had arrived on a day when there was the large model aircraft show on. What this meant is we had to park on the airfield and walked down though the trees to the museum itself. Included in the admission price was the air show so we decide after we had been to the museum we would walk to see the show too,
      The tree lined woods took us through the picnic area to some post Second World War planes. These included various tornados and other planes. Each plane was well described by signs telling you when it was in service from and too, who designed it, what it was used for and it's various statistics. Not being a plane aficionado I have to admit all this information was new to me and some of the statistic had very little meaning to me as I don't understand about planes but there were several other visitors who had more knowledge than me discussing the merits of each plane close by. On one area there was a also a nimrod plane that peoplePictures of Yorkshire Air Museum, York
      Yorkshire Air Museum, York seemed to working on and this had signs around it telling you not to go beyond the barriers as this was an active plane. The aircraft remains in operational condition with its engines still in working order and these are tested at regular intervals if you want to hear these in action the website updates you as to when the engines are going to be fired up as it were for you to time a visit accordingly. The plane is going to ready for full exhibition this autumn apparently. Now whether this means you can then go on board the plane I don't know but it certainly would be something if you could.

      We then made our way to one of the large hangers that is displaying various aircraft. This huge space has various brick walls of dedication around its edges on each brick is written someone's name. The names on the bricks are someone who has been in the RAF or one of the allied air forces during the World Wars and makes for sober reading as you go around. In this building as well as airlines there are several helicopters an air craft bus and several military cars. There is also a Douglas DC3 Dakota IV this large green transport plane is one of the exhibits that you can go in and when we were there a gentleman guide was able to explain to us how this plane was used not only to transport troops but also anything that was needed including jeeps animals and food. Whilst you are inside this plane you are invited to take a seat on of the bench seats whilst he plays some audio information. This is of the plane taking off and sounds of the plane under attack and the commander then telling the troops he is transporting to parachute out into the drop zone. What we found about this is that it actually made you realize how fragile the plane was if it was under attack and how noisy it would of being compared to day's aircrafts. My 3 year old son was absolutely transfixed during this session and made us return to the plane for several flights throughout our visit. Also in this hanger is one of the most unique exhibits a restored 'Friday the 13th' Handley Page Halifax Mk III this has been carefully reconstructed from pieces of several aircraft to put together. This was a famous aircraft I believe that completed multiple missions against overwhelming odds. As well as this replica the museum has also build several replicas of WW1 aircraft, including an SE5A, an Avro 504K and a BE2c.


      We were directed to another hanger which for children and plane enthusiast alike is superb there are several cockpits that you can climb into. These are just cockpits that are not attached to planes but still have chairs button and levels to operate. In one of them there is the small area to the front that an airman would have sat for both navigating and shooting I believe. This again was a thing of wonder for my son and he happily queued several times to go into each one and fly a plane and bomb the baddies. In the same room there are some de-commissioned bombs and the thing that struck me was how big these were some were taller than my husband at 5 foot 11 and just made you realize the devastation they can inflict.

      As well as aircraft, the museum also has a number of specialist exhibitions based in different buildings around the airfield, including the control tower restored to its WW2 condition. This is a great exhibit it is all set behind Perspex screens but it is all set out as the control hanger would be when a mission from the base is under way. The use of dummies in uniform and sound tracks of plane and dialogue make it all seem quite real. My son with his whistle stop way of doing museums slowed down enough for us to actually real some of the information on display about it. In one of the ground floor rooms there was a gentleman with a Morse code transmitter showing people how messages were relayed and sent during the war. This was more interesting to my husband who was keen to learn about it whilst my son and I went to look as some tanks.


      There is the story of RAF Bomber Command and this is a bit interactive with a cinema showing people memories of the war and what happened on the base. There are also some displays of some of the engines that you can press to see how they worked. Whilst this was interesting to an adult for a 3 year old it just wasn't enough to hold his attention but I did spot several school age children reading some of the information boards and looking at come of the computers with the information on.

      The pioneers of Aviation exhibit with its collection of images and unique displays are very interesting to read to any fan of history and aviation. The focus is strongly on some of the Yorkshire connections these people have includes "Sir George Cayley, the internationally acknowledged Father of Aeronautics, who lived near Scarborough; Amy Johnson, a typist from Hull who was the first female to fly solo to Australia and Russia; Nevil Shute, author and engineer on the R100 Airship at Howden and founder of the Airspeed Aircraft Company in York and Portsmouth" Museum website. Whilst this is all interesting to read it isn't actually very interactive and I think things here did need to be a bit more interact than story boards to tell the history and it didn't hold the attention for my son and I would say it didn't hold the attention of many children as the only people we saw going into his exhibit and staying were adults.

      The Air Gunners' exhibit according to the museums website is the only one of its type in the world. This exhibit is dedicated to the memory of the 20,000 Air Gunners who lost their lives in World War II. Which I found to be quite a stark statistic really when coupled with the fact that their life expectancy with the job was an average of two weeks. This exhibit to these heroic fights shows some of the turrets they would have sat in the clothes they would wear to protect them from the elements and why they did such an invaluable job. The turrets and guns provided some fascination for my son and my only disappointment was the gunner's interactive exhibit to try to shot things was broken which I think many boys would love to try.

      When we were there the large model aircraft were having a fair and whilst I won't describe these huge toy planes for you what I will tell you is if there is an event and weather permits then fly pasts are done by some of the sir museums aircraft. On the day we visited I am not sure which planes were flying as I have to admit I don't recognize them but I was able to see that they were some type of light aircraft from the World War Two and judging by the gasps of amazement from some of the other visitors who were definitely more knowledgeable than me it was spectacular to see these flying. To me as some one who isn't an aficionado I would say the roar, the way they swept majestically across the sky was a great sight to behold and one my son enjoyed too.


      There is also an RAF chapel and memorials dedicated to allied Air Forces and Women's air Services my husband went alone to this peaceful place as it isn't a place suitable for a small noisy child. He reported that it was a lovely place and a serene tribute to those who gave their lives for our country.

      NAFFI restaurant
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      The cafe at this museum is in one of the airfield buildings they have styled it on how a NAFFI would be when the station was active and is very much a canteen with you to queue up for the delights on offer. The food is what I would called good wholesome food such as meaty pasta bakes, pies and chips, sandwiches chicken nuggets rather than cordon blue cookery. However at just over £12 for two main courses with vegetables and two drinks it was very reasonably priced and the food was cooked well. My chicken nuggets which I shared with my son rather than being process actually tasted home made with a light and crispy breadcrumb and very tender chicken breast. The tables are set out with wipe able cloths and everything was very clean and tidy. There are also tables out side should wish to enjoy the son.


      Child friendly
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      Whilst I do think it is quite child friendly with lots to see by way of large air craft and my son enjoyed going into the cockpits and plane I do think more of the exhibits could be interactive to appeal to children more. That said for my son even the big H for the helicopter landing pad on the ground was a source of amusement for my son as he saw it as a way to play hopscotch and as way to race along it. Indeed my son enjoyed the day so much he wanted to stay there "ever ever" which is a ringing endorsement form him

      Accessibility
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      Whilst the majority of the exhibits are suitable for wheelchairs with ramps in and out of buildings certain sections are not such as the top of the control tower or going into a plane or a cockpit. There is little provision for the blind visitor with no audio guides available that I saw on display which I think is a shame as some of the exhibits that did have audio to them such as the control tower simply just came alive even more. I think some more of these around the place would not only make is more accessible to the blind or partially sighted visitor but to the population as a whole.


      Overall
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      This is a great air museum to visit in York it is reasonably priced and offers a great insight not only in to Military air craft but into life on the Elvington Base in World War 2. The museum could benefit from some more interactive exhibits I think to help young children understand about how aircraft work and some of the history of the base. I would recommend a visit if you enjoy planes and like history. It is worth while checking the website for events held there as often as we found if there is an event on then some of these superb air craft do fly pasts for you to watch.
      Opening Hours
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      Summer Period, 10.00am - 5.00pm every day.âEuro¨
      Winter Period, 10.00am - 4.00pm every day.
      Closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day.


      Admission Charges
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      Adults £7.00
      Children Under 5 Free
      Children 5 - 15 years £4.00
      Families (up to 2 adults and 3 children) £18.00
      Senior Citizens £5.00

      Contact details
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      The general telephone number is: 01904 608595
      Website http://www.yorkshireairmuseum.org/

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