If you’re trying to find something to do over the summer holidays then the Museum of Army Flying may be exactly what you need.
The museum is located on the edge of the airfield at Middle Wallop a short distance from both Andover and Romsey. Tickets are priced at £9 for adults and £6.50 for children over 5 (under 5’s go free) – throughout August 2 children per family can also be admitted for free. We also found on our visit that by gift aiding your ticket, visitors are given an annual pass for free – allowing for unlimited return visits!
The walk from the entrance of the building takes you through the history of British military flight, from signal balloons right through to modern Apache helicopter. There are also various recreations of historical wartime scenarios throughout the museum. So realistic was the 1940’s house recreation that an elderly couple remarked on how they felt like they had returned to their own childhood.
The museum is packed with various well-maintained aircraft and is intermixed with videos and interactive activities to keep the kids interested. There are also various simulators, one is designed to be the cockpit of a Red Arrow, the simulator costs £1 to use but it’s good fun with lots of working parts. The other simulator is a WW2 glider in which visitors are given the task of landing safely on a runway. There are also two shooting simulators, a rifle and a rocket propelled grenade. It’s safe to say that the children were queuing up behind lots of eager dads to have a go!
In the second of the two large aircraft halls is a helicopter in which visitors are able to sit and manipulate the controls which move the rotor-blades, a button switches on the sound of the aircraft in flight with lots of radio traffic, it’s very exciting for the children.
Upstairs is The Apache Cafe with it’s magnificent view across the working airfield. During our visit we were lucky enough to see a pilot rehearsing an aerobatic display which was filled with moments of sheer terror for spectators as he threw the small plane into death-defying turns followed by long plummets toward the ground. The cafe itself is reasonably priced with drinks and food costing around the same as from a shop making it affordable and convenient, no need to lug around a cool-bag with the picnic.
Outside there is a fantastic wooden play area for children encompassing a helicopter, complete with slide and monkey bars, a Sopwith Pup recreation and a control tower. There is plenty of seating for adults who may prefer to watch the departing Apache helicopters or the gliders soaring overhead. If it’s raining there is a small area indoors with a ball-pit and various other aircraft related activities for children.
In all for the reasonable price of less than £20 for an entire year’s entry for a family of four the visit was excellent, it was great value for money, had enough exhibits and activities to ensure the visit could last for 3-4 hours and was made even better by the cheerful and very helpful staff.
So if you’re stuck with nothing to do this month try the Museum of Army Flying, you’ve probably driven past it without knowing how much fun awaits inside.