The Army Flying Museum is located next door to the Army Air Corps Centre and a working airfield. It has recently had a huge refurbishment with lots of new interactive additions to the collection.
You enter the museum via the gift shop and reception desk. We were shown the children’s trail sheets and given a map. Lois decided to have a go at all of the trails. Cody chose the Pilots Log Book trail. They come on clipboards and there are plenty of pencils for you to borrow too.
We explored the World War 1 gallery and entered the first hall with airplanes and helicopters on display. I love the way it’s made realistic by the crumbled walls and barbed wire fences with sand bag trenches.
I love museums that bring history to life like that. It makes it so much more interesting and captivating. The aircraft displays were very cool. We loved the variety of aircraft on display. There were several interactive screens where you could learn more about the aircraft. You could also do puzzles of them or take a look at the 360* images from inside the cockpits.
The screens were particularly great for Cody as he doesn’t have the patience to read long information boards. He loved using the screens and showing me what he’d found on there.
There are quite a few interactive activities in this gallery. You can climb aboard 2 of the helicopters. One of them you can even have a go at the controls to tilt the propellers. There is dressing up and an area where you follow instructions to build an engine! Lily and Lois did well working this out together and getting the engine to work.
Next we went upstairs where we discovered personal stories from the army. You could read about the medals soldiers had been awarded as well as see the medals on display.
You could also listen to first-hand experiences. The audio stories were fascinating and again, such a great idea to bring the stories to life. Hearing people’s voices telling their story makes a huge impact.
Our next stop was the Apache Cafe for lunch. Unfortunately I forgot to take any photos here. I had my hands full with over-hungry kids and a screaming baby at the time! The menu had a good variety though and there were some lovely cakes. Prices were fairly reasonable. Kids meals cost £5.50 including a drink which wasn’t too bad. We had baguettes and chips off the lunch menu which were basic but OK. The cafe overlooks the airfield so if you’re lucky you might get to see some flying action while you’re there. There’s a balcony if you want to sit outside and down a flight of stairs you can access the outdoor play area. This is of course airport themed with a wooden helicopter and control tower. Very cool!
Next we headed into the 2nd aircraft hall. This one had more helicopters and aircraft on display as well as several flight simulators. The flight simulators do cost extra so take some change with you. Every hour there is a Helicopters In Action show which lasts approximately 8 minutes. It has some loud noises and flashing lights although we personally didn’t find it too loud.
Again there are some more interactive activities to enjoy. The girls liked making the wooden puzzles.
There is a soft play centre in between the two aircraft display halls. There are some games in here as well. One side is an Arctic theme and the other is jungle themed. This represents the diverse areas the Army can be deployed to. It was a popular room with lots of children in during our visit so we went back to the galleries pretty quickly!
The facilities at the Museum are really good. There’s a lift to access the 2nd floor as well as stairs. The cafe offers vegetarian and gluten free options. There are disabled and baby change toilets. The entrance is also an automatic door for easy access. We found that although there were plenty of people there during our visit it never felt crowded. There’s lots of space and different areas to explore. We were able to return to areas we wanted to see again if we wanted to. In total we spent around 4 hours at the Museum but we could easily have stayed longer. It’s a great place to visit for all generations and I love that it’s so hands-on. We highly recommend it!
Address: Middle Wallop, Stockbridge, Hampshire, SO20 8DY
Price band: ££
Disclaimer: The staff at the Army Flying Museum have had no involvement in this review and all photos, words and opinions are that of my own.