The Helicopter Museum

Coordinates: 51°20′22″N 2°55′49″W / 51.3395°N 2.9303°W / 51.3395; -2.9303

The Helicopter Museum in Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset, England, is a museum featuring a collection of more than 80 helicopters and autogyros from around the world, both civilian and military. It is based on the south-eastern corner of the now-disused RAF Weston-super-Mare airfield.

History

The museum originated in 1958 when its founder, aviation writer and historian Elfan ap Rees, began to build up a private collection of rotorcraft documentation and artefacts. Over the next ten years his collection grew and in 1969 he acquired his first complete helicopter, a Bristol Sycamore Mk.3.

In 1974, Ap Rees purchased a Bristol Belvedere and formed a volunteer group to restore it. In December 1976, an ex Royal Navy Westland Whirlwind HAS Mk.7 was acquired and added to the collection. In 1977 and 1978, more aircraft were added, including an ex Royal Air Force Bristol Sycamore HC Mk.14 and several rare prototypes: the Fairey Ultra-Light tip-jet driven helicopter, the Thruxton Gadfly HDW.1 two-seat autogyro and the Campbell Cougar autogyro. In 1978, the museum acquired a small area and some buildings on Weston-super-Mare airfield, including a Second World War armoury building and air-raid shelter. The buildings required extensive repair work, but by the summer of 1978 the collection was opened to the public, with nine aircraft and a range of other artefacts on display.

Throughout the 1980s, remains from rare helicopters were added to the collection, often preventing them from being scrapped, including the only remaining major parts of the Fairey Rotodyne. Other aircraft acquired in the 1980s included two more variants of the Westland Whirlwind, a Westland Scout AH Mk.1 and a Westland Wessex.

On 3 November 1989, the Museum was officially opened by HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York, who arrived in a Wessex HC.4 of the Queen's Flight. The museum continues to restore and display many types of helicopters from various countries and purposes.

Museum collection

The museum's collection of helicopters now exceeds 80 complete rotorcraft with many more in restoration or only partly complete. The museum features many foreign helicopters, particularly Soviet-era and Eastern European craft, for example the Kamov Ka-26 Hoodlum and the Mi-24 Hind, and more modern ones such as the EH-101.

In 2008, several parts of the XCH-62, prototype of the largest helicopter ever built in the western countries, were sent to the Helicopter Museum to be exhibited there. The XCH-62 was scrapped in 2005 at the United States Army Aviation Museum, where it was previously displayed.

Media

2 photos

Building Activity

  • OpenBuildings
    OpenBuildings added a digital reference
    about 5 years ago via OpenBuildings.com