Tuesday 3rd October saw a group of us XH558 Vulcan volunteers assemble in Doncaster for the start of a visit to the Midlands Air Museum, (MAM), Bagington Airport, Coventry, organized by Toni Hunter from the ‘Aviation Experience Company’, (www.aviationexperiencecompanycompany.co.uk).
If this tour was up to the same excellence of previous tours, we were truly in for a ‘treat’.
On arrival at MAM, we were warmly greeted by Dianne and after taking our orders for lunch, handed us over to the Chairman of the Trustees, Barry James. Barry proceeded to give us an introduction to the museum before commencing our tour.
MAM proudly celebrates one of Coventry’s greats, Sir Frank Whittle, undoubtedly the ‘Father of the Jet Age’. The Sir Frank Whittle Jet Heritage Centre is a fascinating exhibition celebrating this great man’s pioneering work in the development of the jet engine and its positive influence upon the modern jet engines that power us around the world today.
The contents of the museum are simply too extensive to describe here in this article, but for us, a highlight was a visit up into the cockpit of MAM’s Avro Vulcan B2, XL360 and a highly interesting and informative ‘tour’ (whilst seated of course; no room to wander here), around the cockpit and the 5 crew stations within by volunteer Keith. Even we ‘knowledgeable’ Vulcan folk learned a few new facts from Keith, including a fascinating story of the Vulcan’s ability to ‘out maneuver’ the English Electric Lightning on fighter affiliation exercises. The ‘complete’ rear cockpit for the 2 Navs and the AEO was of great interest. Sadly, like 558, the pilot’s clock unit was missing. They are ‘Gold Dust’ and much rarer than hen’s teeth it seems!
Finally, Barry took us up into the cockpit section of the Handley Page Victor which is now fully electrically powered and provides an excellent comparison between two of the three mighty V bombers. It was of great interest to us to see how two great aircraft manufacturers approached the same aircraft specification B35/46 issued in 1947 to protect Great Britain during the Cold War.
After an excellent lunch at MAM, Toni, with her vast networking knowledge of all who matter in the world of aviation, had managed to persuade the powers that be to allow us a guided tour of the ClassicFlight’s hangars, (previously Air Atlantic Classic Flight) based a short distance away. Marvin from ClassicFlight gave us a most interesting walk-through the hangars which contain, probably one of the largest and finest collections of airworthy classic aircraft. Sadly, this collection is soon to be moved to another location, and some aircraft having been purchased by new owners, will move to other locations, and some to the USA.
We were therefore a very privileged group indeed thanks to Toni and her company, to view this unique collection of classic airworthy aircraft before their imminent dispersal.
The Aviation Experience Company through its founder, Toni Hunter, delivered yet another excellent and ‘special’ tour, building on her vast experience gained through founding the ‘Vulcan Experience’ at Doncaster Robin Hood Airport, hangar 3 and XH558.
I can enthusiastically recommend The Aviation Experience Company to you, and invite you to visit their web site, www.theaviationexperiencecompanycompany.co.uk for a detailed insight into the exciting and ‘out-of-the-norm’, aviation experiences on offer.
Dave Hirons – 4th October 2017