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The Fleet Air Arm Museum – Yeovilton – Somerset

When Papa Joe was a little boy, his mother used to tell him stories about being a radio operator in The Wrens (Women’s Royal Naval Service) during The Second World War. It was where she learnt to ride a bike – the only way for her to get to work at HMS Heron. That might sound odd but HMS Heron is not a warship but a naval airfield in the middle of the Somerset countryside.

HMS Heron is now RNAS Yeovilton and is home to The Fleet Arm Museum. We visited it recently and Papa Joe was thrilled to see a mock up of Wrens working around an aircraft.

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Was this how Papa Joe’s mother looked when she was a Wren?

Suitable for 5+ Allow 3 – 5 hours

Where: Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton SAT NAV REF: BA22 8HW 
Admission: family admission available -under 5 FREE – discounts for seniors, students
a Gift Aid donation equivalent to the admission will give 1 years free entry – except for some special event days
Facilities: Swordfish Restaurant, picnic area  and mini assault course/play area just outside museum Free parking
Website: www.fleetairarm.com

The museum has 4 large themed exhibition halls containing Europe’s largest naval aviation collection.

You mustn’t miss The Aircraft Carrier Experience in Hall 3. The tour is very atmospheric and exciting, right from the start when you enter ‘a helicopter’ to be flown on to the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. At the end you feel you are actually watching planes take off and land and there is rather an heart stopping moment that made me gasp – but I won’t not spoil the surprise for you.

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Arriving on the carrier

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Keeping track of the aircraft on the carrier

It takes about 40 minutes to be guided through the simulation so allow yourself enough time. There are a lot of stairs but a wheelchair/buggy accessible route is provided. It is also very noisy. The little boy we went round with spent a lot of the time with his hands over his ears!

Fleet Air Arm Museum 2We have visited the American aircraft carrier, USS Lexington, moored in The Gulf of Mexico in Texas and were amazed at how real the ‘mock up’ at The Fleet Air Arm Museum seemed.

It was well worth visiting The Fleet Air Arm Museum just for the exciting Carrier Experience.

We took a break after The Carrier Experience and went to The Swordfish Restaurant beside the museum for a very welcoming bowl of soup – your ticket allows you to go in and out during the day. There is also an open and covered picnic area nearby. Beside the restaurant is a small playground with a simple mini assault course.

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Papa Joe decided not to have a go!

Back in the museum after lunch we wandered around looking at the planes and special exhibits. We were especially interested in the Second World War exhibits as it gave us an idea of how the airfield must have operated when Papa Joe’s mother worked here.

The exhibits also show how naval aviation developed from the first Royal Navy airship in 1909 to the new aircraft carriers due to come into service by 2020.

We walked through Concorde 002, which was the 2nd Concorde prototype, and saw the testing equipment that was used. It is amazing how narrow the plane is in comparison to modern passenger planes.

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There are also experiments to try out and a few areas set aside with activities for The Mayhems to do.

 

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We had a great day and are sure we will be back.


Getting There The Museum is at the Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton (also known as HMS Heron).
 On the B3151 just off the A303 and A37 – SAT NAV: BA22 8HW 
Google see map or get directions

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