Sunday, 2 February 2014

Boscombe Down Aviation Collection.

The real reason for my walkies yesterday was to visit the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection which is at Old Sarum Airfield. It isn't a very long walk to get there, and to be honest I was very disappointed by the collection.

My first oooh moment was when I saw my first Hawker Hunter. It is a real beaut of an aircraft, with that strange otherness that many British aircraft had in the days when the UK aviation industry was still producing aircraft.


The aircraft behind it is a Jet Provost, and she isn't looking as immaculate as the Hunter is. The problem with aircraft is that realistically they should be kept under cover, but that's assuming you have cover to keep them under.


Of course the saddest find was the cockpit of a Comet MK2 that now stands forlornly on a corner. It is as close to a Comet that I would ever get, but this poor remnant is very sad. At one point in history these aircraft were the ground-breakers of long haul jet flight, but now it is relegated to a mere shade of its former self. 


Once inside the museum I was surrounded by cockpits and very few intact aircraft. I think that was one of the reasons I felt so disappointed; there are very few intact aircraft here. 


I do understand though the limitations of a collection like this, these museums are really operated by volunteers and people who have a love for these machines. Money is tight, space is tighter and exhibits are not always easy to acquire. If anything a cockpit is better than nothing. Boscombe Down was originally an aircraft testing site at Amesbury. The collection is probably part of the equipment that was at that original airfield.

The other intact aircraft are: 

Hawker Sea Harrier
 
Gloster Meteor
BE2b
Chipmunk WD321
There is also a Jaguar under preservation, although it may be be a long time before  she is any sort of state to be displayed properly.


I did look around the cockpits, and the pair of Canberra remnants were very interesting, considering that the SAAF flew Canberras during the Bush War.



I have no idea how they managed to squeeze into those small spaces though, access to that transparent nose was almost impossible, never mind how they did it with their flying gear on and while in flight. That is the one thing that did strike me, all of these cockpits were really small and cramped and it does give a better appreciation for the men who flew them.


Not all aircraft here are fighters, there are two larger cockpits which are more my size. This particular aircraft is a Hawker Siddeley Andover and it was used for early trials of low light and infra red night flying.



The "front office" of a modern fighter is a mix of analogue and digital, although I cannot recall which aircraft this is. The museum was reasonably busy too, and trying to get a coherent set of images was difficult as people kept on drifting in and out of view, or popping up where you don't want them to be.


Unfortunately the Lightning was blocked off so I could not get a look into her cockpit, but I was really amazed at how big this part of the aircraft was. It is just a pity that there was no complete Lightning to see.


That was about it, all that remained was photographing the two helicopters through the fence. One being a Wasp and the other a mystery.


For some reason I thought this yellow machine was Russian. But it turns out that is is a Sycamore XJ380. The Sycamore has the distinction of being the first British designed helicopters to fly.


Then I was ready to head off home, I did not include all my images here, there are too many. But like so many of these places you tend to realise that you missed seeing everything, or taking notice of some of the smaller exhibits. I do however feel a twinge of nostalgia for that Comet outside, and they do have a wonderful model of one of these aircraft


As well as a lot of seats from the Comet standing outside.


From the days when passengers were treated as travellers and not as cattle.

There is also a memorial to the Air Observation Post Squadrons that were based at Old Sarum Airfield during World War 2.


That concluded my photography, and I hung around at the airfield for awhile but there was nothing really exciting going on there so I headed off back to Salisbury.

Unsorted random photographs.

BAC1-11 Cockpit
GAF Jindivik target drone
Lloyd Loom chair as used by Battle of Britain Pilots waiting to scramble
Hawker  Harrier vectored thrust nozzles
Rolls Royce Avon engine
Back seat driver (Navigator?) of a Canberra 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.