Press Release: Royal Air Force Museum Cosford will be opening the doors to thirteen aircraft during a two-day Open Cockpits Weekend on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 October. Aviation fans and families with budding young pilots can enjoy a closer look inside some of the unique and historic aircraft from the Museum’s collection, including one of the RAF’s iconic V-Bombers.
Ticket holders will be given up to six hours to explore everything from British, German and Japanese Second World War fighter aircraft, to the pioneering research and development aircraft – many of which are the world’s sole remaining examples.
The sole-surviving complete Vickers Valiant B.1 XD818 is one of the aircraft which visitors will be able to take a look inside. The Valiant was one of three aircraft types to comprise V Force, the RAF’s strategic nuclear strike force, during the 50s and 60s. XD818 is guaranteed to be one of the weekend highlights. The Valiant was the first of Bomber Command’s V class aircraft to become operational and established Britain’s airborne nuclear deterrent force before pioneering operational, in-flight refueling for the Royal Air Force. Not only was it the first V-Bomber to enter service, it was also the first to drop an operational British nuclear weapon, codenamed Blue Danube, which took place over Maralinga, Australia on October 11th, 1956. In fact, the museum’s Valiant, XD818, performed the first test drop of Britain’s hydrogen bomb, code named Short Granite, over the South Pacific on May 15, 1957. The Valiant is displayed alongside the other two types belonging to the V Force, the Handley Page Victor and Avro Vulcan in the Museum’s National Cold War Exhibition, the only place in the world where you can view all three aircraft together.
Also in the event line-up is the Bristol 188, often a talking point for the Museum’s younger visitors, curious about its unusual-looking shape. Built mainly of stainless steel, this aircraft was designed to investigate the effects of high temperatures on aircraft structures at supersonic speed. To protect the pilot against heat build-up a special cockpit refrigeration system was installed. Nicknamed the ‘Flaming Pencil’, only two Bristol 188s ever flew, with a third taking part in ground testing.
Families will get the chance to climb aboard and explore the Short Belfast, a giant of the RAF’s Cold War cargo fleet, and take a seat inside the Focke-Wulf FW 190, one of the most successful combat aircraft of the Second World War and a key element in the Luftwaffe’s fighter force. Marvel at the cockpit of the world’s oldest Supermarine Spitfire, one of the most iconic aircraft of all time (close view only) and view inside the fuselage of the Avro Lincoln B2.
Other aircraft open exclusively for the event include: Hunting H.126, English Electric P.1A, Fairey FD2, Saunders-Roe SR.53, Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.3, Kawasaki Ki-100-1b (close view only) and the Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer CCII. Aircraft will be manned by over 70 volunteers and cadets.
A total of 300 tickets per day are available for Open Cockpits Weekend on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 October and are available to purchase through the Museum’s website rafmuseum.org/cosford or on the day subject to availability, costing £13.50 per person. The ticket price also includes parking and a 10% discount on purchases made in the Museum shop on the day. For an additional £1.00, ticket holders can purchase a Log Book to keep a record of the aircraft they’ve accessed! A minimum height requirement of 1.07 metres applies for this event. Entry to the Museum is free of charge.