Ian Waller and his sons enjoy a day out to the world’s largest dedicated helicopter museum
My ten year old was determined to have a go with one of the helicopters on display, fly it home and give his friends rides to school. His thinking was, with so many helicopters on display, he was sure that they could spare one for such an important mission.
The occasion for his aviation-themed planning was a visit to The Helicopter Museum in Weston-super-Mare, a fantastic collection of all things rotary, from pedal-powered gyrocopters to military machines and a couple of Royal whirlybirds. The Helicopter Museum is a perfect venue for a family day out – easy to reach from junction 21 of the M5, loads to see, with a cafe on site and the seafront just a short journey onwards.
With our tickets purchased – which allow you can return for free for the next 12 months! – we were off to check out the helicopters. With social distancing in place, a few of the hands-on exhibits were out of bounds, but for the majority of the rest, there were handy QR codes next to each one which you could scan to find out more about the helicopters on display. By following the one-way route around the tightly packed hangar, there really is an amazing selection to see, ranging from two-seater trainers to gyrocopters and the hugely military types.
The star of the show for my boys was the humungous Mil MI-24D, a soviet military beast complete with machine guns, rocket launchers and all of the trappings of war. Best of all, one of the many volunteers at the museum was on hand to answer the boys’ myriad questions about range, calibres and other such things.
In fact, the volunteers who run the museum and maintain the collection are so worthy of praise. The work they must put in is immense and yet they were always happy to answer our questions and pass on their knowledge. In fact, at the far end of the hangar is an amazing workshop where the helicopters are restored, giving a wonderful insight into the skills required to keep these aircraft alive.
As we progressed, past helicopters of all designs and sizes, so we picked up facts about how they fly and the huge variety of uses they can be put to, along with a fair bit of history too. By the time we reached the end of the tour, a welcome snack and drink in the cafe was accompanied by animated discussions on which ones we take home, given the chance.
This was a great day out, full of facts and fun. While the Covid related restrictions meant we couldn’t climb aboard some of the exhibits or visit the control tower outside, those tickets allowing free return tickets mean that we’ll be back again for another go, and perhaps then Joe will have his chance to take one of the exhibits home with him.