I greatly enjoyed a trip in November to the media preview of the RAF Museum London’s new permanent exhibition, ‘The First World War in the Air’.
It was another first for me, having not visited the site in Hendon before, and it certainly provides plenty to see for a full group day out. The new exhibition has been created within the original hangars where the Grahame-White Aviation Company built aircraft from 1910 onwards, and the site played an important role in the development of both the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps, which eventually became the modern day Royal Air Force.
The first hangar follows the story of early aviation pioneers and the history of the Hendon site whilst the second then concentrates on the role of aircraft in the First World War. The personal stories of staff from the Grahame-White Aviation Company and pilots are interspersed with exhibits such as an original D.VII Fokker and Sopwith F1 Camel dating from 1918, hanging dramatically from the roof. You are able to get a closer look from a viewing platform and I was given the chance to get hands-on by exploring the cockpit of a replica Albatross D.Va.
A special programme of talks has been developed for the U3A by the access and learning team; you can even explore the original office of Claude Grahame-White, which has been recreated, and can now be hired by groups for events.