Pay a Visit to the Fascinating Helicopter Museum
The Helicopter Museum, located in Weston-super-Mare on the south-west coast of England, is the largest all-weather undercover attraction in the area. The museum offers fun for the whole family, with a coffee shop, gift shop and children’s play area. Of course, the whole reason for visiting the Helicopter Museum in the first place is to see the helicopters, and visitors will not be disappointed. Exhibitions display a wide variety of items, documents and books related to helicopters as well as an impressive line-up of beautifully restored helicopters from different time periods and different countries.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, visited the Helicopter Museum on Friday 20 July 2007 to unveil a plaque in honor of the new Engineering and Conservation Hangar. An honor indeed! But how did the Helicopter Museum start? Back in 1958, aviation writer/historian Elfan ap Rees started to build up a private collection of documents and artifacts related to rotorcraft. As the years went by his collection grew, and in 1969 he purchased a Bristol Sycamore Mk.3 – his first complete helicopter. In 1974 he purchased a Bristol Belvedere which was in need of restoration. A volunteer group of like-minded people was formed and the restoration was undertaken with much enthusiasm. An ex Royal Air Force Bristol Sycamore HC Mk.14 was added to the collection in July 1977, bringing the number of aircraft collected to eight. Also in 1977, the British Rotorcraft Museum was registered as a company and a charity, with the goal of developing the collection and making it available for the public to see.
The collection grew, the volunteers increased in number and in 1978 the collection was opened up to the public with a range of interesting artifacts and nine aircraft on display. The response from visitors was very positive and the museum opened again to the public for the 1979 summer season. By now the collection was growing to the extent that more space was needed and so the hunt for a suitable site began. After a number of disappointments, an excellent site was found at Weston-on-Mare. A long term lease was signed with Westland Helicopters Ltd and restoration of an existing building was started. After a lot of hard work, mainly by dedicated volunteers, on 3 November 1989 HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York, officially opened the Helicopter Museum – a memorable event in the Museum’s history.
There are currently over eighty helicopters in the collection, although not all are on display because of restoration work being carried out. The collection has been divided into three categories by area of origin: British, American, Eastern European and Western European. Each expertly restored display helicopter has a detailed description of its history and points of interest that visitors will find fascinating.
If you are interested in aircraft, you will definitely enjoy a visit to the Helicopter Museum where you will gain a new appreciation for the capabilities of helicopters, as well as gaining insight to the important role that helicopters have played in history and how they continue to benefit mankind today.