UK Helicopter Museum Plans for Expansion

The Helicopter Museums current state, set to be significantly upgraded. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The Helicopter Museums current state, set to be significantly upgraded. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The Helicopter Museums current state, set to be significantly upgraded.
(Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The Helicopter Museum in Weston-super-Mare on the Bristol Channel Coast in the United Kingdom bills itself as the “World’s Largest Dedicated Helicopter Museum,” and it aims to get even larger. The current facility is house in a series of hangars and temporary buildings at the presently disused RAF Weston-super-Mare airfield. The Museum has hired an architect to design an expansion to the facility in support of applying for a grant from the British Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) which would see a two-story entrance building and additional display areas for the collection added to the floor plan. Also under consideration is the restoration of the adjacent original control tower which dates back to 1936 and the construction of a new hanger to house the museums burgeoning collection of rotorcraft as well as parking and visitor amenities more befitting a collection of this stature.

The scheme has been in the planning stages for the past 12 months with preliminary meetings being held with HLF and has now reached the point where the architectural team needed to be brought onboard to drive the project forward. The museum’s collection began in 1958 when its founder, aviation writer and historian Elfan ap Rees began amassing a collection of helicopter documentation and artifacts, acquiring his first complete helicopter, a Bristol Sycamore Mk.3 in 1969. Forty four years later, the museum’s collection of now exceeds 80 complete helicopters with many more in restoration or only partly complete and features an extensive collection of ex-Soviet and Eastern European craft in a collection that ranges from tiny, single seat autogyros like the Bölkow Bo 102 Helitrainer to attack helicopters like the Mil Mi-24D “Hind”, a Soviet gunship bristling with armament.

The museum has also recently acquired a Harrier jump jet, further rounding out it’s collection of VTOL craft. The planning and funding of this expansion will likely take another couple of years before construction can take place, and it can’t come too soon given the rapid and continuing expansion of the museum’s collection.

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