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The Gatwick Aviation Museum is not a must-do for people who are not very much into aviation. It’s not the type of museum with an exhibition easily accessible to you with shiny displays. People with aviation history background however will surely enjoy this collection of classic aircraft and memorabilia in the outskirts of Gatwick Airport. The place is run by Peter Vallance, a local businessman who started the collection as a hobby and has faced years of opposition from the local government. His energetic way and all the years of fighting have maintained the collection at the place for many years and the collection is now at least tolerated by the locals.
The collection consists of around 20 military aircraft, a huge collection of civil and military engines, several bits and pieces of different aircraft and a couple of rooms with airline memorabilia, all with a heavy focus on Britain. As a friend of civil aviation, the rooms with all the models with stories and items of defunct airlines were the most interesting for me. However, the collection of aircraft is excellent too. Although keeping the historic aircraft outside does not favour their conservation, Mr. Vallance and his team of volunteers have done a great job to keep this collection alive and even expanding it. Some aircraft are kept in a condition that even allows it to run the engines, including an Avro Shackleton and a Buccaneer.
The museum grounds were a former run-down chicken farm which was turned into a small business park later on. Almost all buildings still date from that time, making the museum look rather shabby. However, plans for permanent buildings for the exhibition and most of the aircraft are planned and subject to evaluation and permission. Check out their website for opening times as the museum is only open on Saturdays and a dozen of other days a year. As of 2012, entry is free, but a donation of 5 GBP (2,50 for children) is suggested.
Updated Jul 10, 2012
Address: Lowfield Heath Road, Surrey RH6 0BT
This is Harrods. They sell all kinds of things.
Just have a look round if you have time to spare.
What to buy: When I was there they were trying to flog fluffy teddybears to weary travelers... like they need something else to carry.
What to pay: More than you should.
Written Apr 6, 2005
Address: Gatwick Airport
Favorite thing: Give yourself plenty of time to check in at Gatwick airport, you normally have to check in 2 hours before your flight, and remember that some departure gates at Gatwick are quite a distance from the terminal, you could have a 20 min walk ahead of you so bare that in mind
Written Aug 8, 2006