The RAF Museum in Hendon welcomed visitors into a newly transformed site when it formally reopened on Saturday 30 June.
The redevelopment features a major new extension, new immersive galleries, landscaped green spaces, a children’s playground and a new themed restaurant.
The transformation includes Prince William’s Sea King helicopter from his days as a pilot in RAF Valley, a state-of-the art ‘Gnat’ flight simulator, London’s only Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter and an interactive plotting table where you can experience the demands of being a Women's Auxiliary Air Force plotter in an active operations room.
There are also three new immersive exhibitions offering interactive experiences drawing on the lives of the RAF’s people and their families, its technology and exploring its future.
The new exhibitions are 'RAF Stories: The First 100 Years', 'RAF: First to the Future' and 'The RAF in an Age of Uncertainty'. These will explore the history of the air force since its formation in 1918, highlight some of the inventions and technology and the people behind them and look at deployment, including current operations.
Visitors were able to view over 500 previously unseen artefacts and displays, including sand from Stalag Luft III (the site of the Great Escape), a toothbrush with a concealed compass in the handle, a signed dress collar given to Barnes Wallis by Guy Gibson, the leader of the Dam Busters raid, an Amy Johnson doll from the 1930s, a Skynet satellite and a Prisoner of War suit from the 1991 Gulf War.
And it’s not all behind glass cases, there are opportunities to handle original objects and even try on uniforms, providing a more hands-on learning experience for younger visitors.
The former RAF Hendon airfield site that the Museum now sits on first opened its doors to the public in November 1972 has grown over the decades from a few hangars left behind from when it was a busy station to something that will now celebrate the achievements of the RAF over its one hundred years.
It’s purpose has always been to tell the story of the RAF through its people and its collections of aircraft. It not only explores the history of the RAF but will now look to the future and also tell the stories of the people who work tirelessly behind the scenes to get, and keep, aircraft in the air.
The Museum opened with a celebration of Armed Forces Day on Saturday 30 June, which included an outdoor concert, craft activities, talks, tours, storytelling and more activities for all the family.
Click here to see the Museum hompage.