Victoria Visits: Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon

You absolute beauty

This visit actually happened in July 2022, but it’s taken me this long to blog about it and I am ashamed of myself, quite honestly.

I’d wanted to go to Hendon for a while but being a lazy cat by nature, I never got round to it. In a fit of enthusiasm I invited a friend of mine to come and stay and they had the marvellous idea to combine their visit with a trip to Hendon. Turns out they had been once when they were younger and never been back.

So we plotted to go one day in July.

There was just one problem. In May, I had my hysterectomy and still wasn’t totally healed from it come July, but I’d be damned if that was going to stop me from going to the museum, so I grabbed my walking stick and off we went.

‘I may not be able to walk properly at the moment but I can still tell you exactly what I think of you…’

We had the best time. I wanted to see the Lancaster most of all, but I have a soft spot for the plane in the photo above, the BF-109, or the ‘Disappointment’, as I have always thought of them. For context, they were Germany’s answer to the Spitfire.

They weren’t the best, and they got deployed in great numbers that were almost like swarms of bees to basically hide that they were kind of rubbish.

We still shot a ton of them down despite having less numbers of our own aircraft, so ner, Axis, ner.

They may be crap but like I said, I do have a soft spot for them and it was nice to actually see one of them in the flesh.

Tornado tushie!

Hendon has so many displays, ranging from the very start of aviation to the modern day. The WW1 hangar is fascinating and I for one admire the bravery of the pilots from that era who went to war in canvas and wooden planes.

One man with possibly the biggest reputation of all from back then was Manfred Von Richthofen, otherwise known as The Red Baron. He is still known today as one of the best flying aces from that era. Hendon has some stuff that was looted from his aircraft when he was finally shot down (‘Kaput’ was allegedly his final word before he died) and it was amazing to think that I was looking at something that old and owned by someone that famous.

24 is The Red Baron’s little doggie mascot. I found this unbearably cute and may have almost cried at the thought of him going to war with that in his pocket

By far the highlight of the trip was meeting the Lancaster. I’ve always had a bit of a Thing for the Lancaster Bomber but never seen one up close, but I finally got to see one. I say ‘meet’ – I’m a sap and I consider planes to have personalities. So here’s a photo of me finally ‘meeting’ my favourite plane:

Not visible, idiotic grin beneath my facemask

To say I was happy was an understatement. I was like a little kid and I took photos of every single angle of this plane, no lie.

One thing I like about Hendon is how easy the displays are to understand. The information boards tell you everything you need to know without patronising or overwhelming. Other museums could learn a thing or two, quite honestly.

I’m going to do a photo dump now with captions because I took so many photos that I think they can just speak for themselves.

Spot the B-17
Halifax bomber – well, what’s left of her
This exhibit made me laugh far too much and far too hard… it’s right next to the toilets too. A+ for comedic placement, Hendon, A+
The Vulcan really is a fine looking aircraft
Can’t even remember what this was! The paint job was kind of funky, though
This boat plane thing was kind of huge!

Of course there is a gift shop, and I picked up a couple of books – I got one called Death Was Their Co-Pilot about the WW1 flying aces and a book about the Dambusters. The cover art for that massively swayed me because it was a Lancaster. Each book was about £7, massively reduced from their initial cover price, so very much good value and having now read both of them, they’re good reads.

I really did have a marvellous day. Hendon is wonderful. It’s interesting, informative and for me at least it was a bit emotional, seeing the aircraft that carried us to victory and that are still fighting in the skies today.

The museum is very accessible. Not being too mobile at the time gave me an insight into how it’s important for exhibits and buildings to be accessible to those who cannot move around as easily, and Hendon certainly ticks that box. There’s lifts to upper floors, and save for a few exhibits (actual aircraft) that are only accessible by steps, there’s not much holding back folks with limited mobility. I struggled up the stairs to go and have a nose at the Phantom cockpit, and a very kind museum employee ran up to see if I needed any help and assisted me down the stairs with my stick. I shouldn’t have gone up there on my own but I wanted to have a look.

Most of the staff were helpful, although the staff in the coffee shop were a bit… abrupt. That’s my only criticism of the place, actually. The bathrooms were clean and plentiful, and as a crohns sufferer, I appreciated that.

I would recommend Hendon as a day out. It’s worth fighting the Hangar Lane nightmare gyratory system to get there. Thank goodness for my friend’s giant car and quick reactions, honestly. The museum is accessible by public transport but in my condition, we had to drive. Next time I go, I’ll be going by train and the Underground.

Full information on visiting the museum can be found here:

This post is not sponsored. I just wanted to share with you a great day out I had!


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