May From Newquay To Cornwall Military Muesum And Davidstow Airfield – The diverse fleet of aircraft operated by Classic Air Force (formerly the Air Atlantique Classic Flight) is much loved on the UK aviation scene, so when the organization announced it was moving to Newquay in 2013, the decision was the hot topic of discussion on our forums. However, after just two years, the new museum at Newquay has closed, raising questions about the fate of the aircraft housed there. Now, six months after the official closure of CAF Newquay, we visited Newquay Cornwall Airport to see the new ‘Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre’ and find out if this new venture can succeed as an aviation attraction in Cornwall, where several others have previously failed. ?
Much has been said online about the seemingly sudden closure of Classic Air Force Newquay, with management of the charity and parent organization Air Atlantique criticized for the lack of communication with its supporters and members. We asked Geoff about the closure and how the new Cornwall Aviation Heritage Center came about.
May From Newquay To Cornwall Military Muesum And Davidstow Airfield
“The closure of Classic Air Force Newquay was certainly a huge disappointment to all the dedicated volunteers and staff, but also to the people of Cornwall who lost an interesting attraction and brilliant facility. Through no one’s fault, however, various factors against the museum is happening which means CAF has returned to their original base at Coventry Airport.Thankfully the dedicated team of volunteers here have been able to set up a new attraction at Newquay Cornwall Airport, securing the future for a number of iconic British aircraft types.We worked hard to create something that should be affordable for longevity and something that will be really positive for Cornwall.”
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The area to be occupied by the new Cornwall Aviation Heritage Center is part of the Newquay Cornwall Airport “Aerohub” investment area, within the Hardened Aircraft Shelter (HAS) site which was of course formerly part of RAF St Mawgan. The Aerohub is growing dramatically and the new museum is surrounded by facilities used by companies such as GateGuards UK Ltd, Apple Aviation & Bloodhound who will use the airport’s 9000ft runway to test their supersonic car ahead of its land speed record attempt next year. We asked how the Heritage Center will operate and what plans they have for their HAS.
“The fact that the museum is inside a real Cold War hardened aircraft shelter gives us a unique atmosphere that we hope our visitors will recognize and enjoy. The operation of the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Center is focused on the wonderful team of volunteers that we already have, with a small number of paid staff as well.As more money comes in we plan to employ more paid staff as we see this as a job opportunity for the people of Newquay, particularly through skilled work within Cornwall’s growing aviation industry to create. Inside the HAS, our Harrier GR3 and Hunter T8M will be on display inside, along with an extensive model and archive collection, indoor children’s play area and a number of aircraft engines. The aim is to make the area exciting and engaging for all ages; therefore, we are keen to have our aircraft open for the public to access.”
On the subject of the aircraft itself, it must be said that the new museum does have a very interesting mix for visitors to admire. Ownership of the static airframes previously on display at CAF Newquay has been transferred to the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Center and these aircraft will be joined by some new aircraft on loan to the museum, including a rare example of the Colomban Cri -Cri (the world’s smallest twin-engine plane) and also a gyrocopter. Many of the airframes have undergone repair and repaint programs in recent years, including the Vickers Varsity which was previously on display at IWM Duxford. The aircraft is painted in the traditional RAF Training Command silver and yellow paint scheme and the interior of the aircraft has been meticulously restored to its original condition. Allowing members of the public to enjoy the aircraft up close and personal will be a key theme of the Heritage Centre, as Geoff explained.
“The difference between Cornwall Aviation Heritage Center and many other aircraft museums is that our aircraft will not be exhibits to be viewed from behind barriers. It is all about getting ‘hands on’ and giving our visitors an experience that they will remember. Sit in the cockpit of a Hawker Hunter or on the flight deck of a VC10, climb into the Varsity and experience the smells and feelings of vintage aviation.”
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The collection’s two largest aircraft can be seen for miles around the airport, with the iconic T-Tails of the Vickers VC10 and BAC 1-11 piercing the skyline. The fate of ZA148 in Cornwall has been the subject of much rumor and discussion over the past 12 months, after it was previously announced that Classic Air Force planned to convert the aircraft into a restaurant, in a similar fashion to the highly successful DC – 6 Meals at Coventry Airport. We asked what was planned for the VC10 & BAC 1-11 at the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre.
“While I cannot comment on what Classic Air Force may have previously planned to do with the airframe, our plan for ZA148 is that the aircraft will soon be re-fitted with its Rolls-Royce Conway engines and the aircraft will be in maintained to a high standard thanks to excellent support from GJD Services. With only 54 aircraft built and only a handful of examples surviving, we recognize we have an important role to play in preserving such an iconic machine. We will continue to give tours of the interior and exterior of the aircraft that were extremely popular at the previous museum, showing the role this K3 aircraft played as an air-to-air tanker with a range of interesting documents and photographs displayed inside the aircraft. Likewise, we will continue to maintain the BAC 1-11 as a live aircraft, with periodic engine runs for the public to enjoy. We also have plans to turn the cockpit of the aircraft into a classroom as part of our education programme, but this will not detract from the preservation of this unique airframe.”
It is certainly encouraging to hear that the future of these two rare aircraft looks promising, and that the BAC 1-11 – which of course was previously a test aircraft for QinetiQ – will be used to educate and hopefully inspire future generations of aviation professionals . Although it is early days, we asked if any other training programs were planned for the business in line with other aviation museums such as IWM Duxford or the RAF Museum.
“We recognize that education is essential, it’s a big part of why we preserve these historic aircraft and having a dedicated educational program is a big part of any museum. We’ve already set up our own education strategy and our local secondary school will be piloting a scheme with us from September with the hope of creating a number of aerospace and engineering related courses for students. We will also offer volunteering schemes compatible with qualifications such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Of course the website will be available travel and we will work hard to accommodate any other facility that a school wishes to use.As previously mentioned, although the BAC 1-11 will be a running aircraft, the cockpit interior will be adapted to be used as a classroom to be used and we are currently seeking advice from local schools on the best possible layout of the interior so that they can deliver unique lessons inside the aircraft.”
Trengwainton’s Wartime Garden Project, Cornwall
Along with the aircraft currently on display, there are also others awaiting their turn to be restored to their former glory and then displayed in the future. At the time of our visit, both the Sea Hawk & Lightning were looking slightly worse for wear outside, so we asked for an update on the restoration process.
“Both restorations have fallen to the bottom of the work list due to the move across the airfield, but once underway our volunteer team will be working hard to restore the aircraft to the same high standards achieved with us. other aircraft. Once assembled and restored to display standard, the Sea Hawk will likely be painted in the traditional Royal Navy gray and white color scheme, but this has yet to be officially decided. The English Electric Lightning will be painted in a silver paint scheme (squadron markings to be decided). This decision is based on conservation as the silver paint used is a very hard wearing paint which will help ensure the longevity of the aircraft and we would like to thank AkzoNobel for their continued support in helping us to restore the collection of static planes.”
It’s positive to hear that the impressive collection will expand in the coming years, and that the airframes on display will all receive some love and attention when their time comes. However, how secure is their future given the
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