If you’re looking for an activity to entertain the kids, the National Museum of Flight should not be ruled out. Granted, it may attract a number of plane spotter types but it actually is a great day out and the kids love it.
Occupying an old air field, numerous hangers provide hours of entertainment. The kids have space to run and there is little fear of them ‘touching’ things.
Our last visit began in the civil aviation hanger, which is full of planes for the kids to gaze upon. Whilst they can’t climb over the planes, there is nothing to request them not getting up close. Each has an interactive display that’s obviously accessible to children. Many of these included videos of people actually flying the planes and explaining what it was like.
All three children would’ve happily spent more time here but we moved on to one of the buildings exploring the life of the air field during the Second World War. There is a range of displays to play with – such as building an engine or learning how spotter planes shared information. Katie was more interested in the documentary of people describing life at the airbase during the war. Again, it was fine for Thomas to dash around and there was nothing to hurt him (or that he could hurt!).
Our favourite building of the day explored different means of flight and had a massive array of interactive displays. The kids filled a good hour exploring all kinds of things and even got to try flying an airship. The paper aeroplane launcher was very cool as was the magnetic air drop game; even Thomas could access this as it really was just pressing buttons but was lots of fun! I’m not sure how much they actually learnt but I hope that a kind of osmosis occurred through them playing!
Not really noting the time, we then headed to the café which proved a bit of a dissapointment. It had next to nothing. The choice comprised a tuna sandwich, jalapeño crisps, fruit, fizzy drinks, or filtered coffee. There was a vast menu advertising all kinds of yummy sounding things, but nothing was available. Sadly, we had lost track of time and everything was closing in 15 minutes. Whilst I get wanting to stop hot food early, I do feel like they could’ve continued to offer hot drinks as a coffee machine is not that complicated to clean. Equally, given that they were out of most types of crisps and all forms of juice – they might need to work on stock issues. The positive discovery was that all three of the kids will eat jalapeño crisps without complaint if hungry enough!
Unfortunately, the mysterious passing of time meant that we ran out of time to view the other hangers as well. I know from previous visits that the military planes and particularly, concord (where you can actually go on the plane) are well worth a visit. That said, give the cost of going £31 for a family ticket – it’s not something we’d be doing every weekend. I know that you can get membership, but unless your kids really enjoy watching small planes whipping around overhead I’m not sure if it’s something I’d do regularly enough to justify the cost!
As an occasional day out, it really is fun and there’s loads to do. It’s certainly something a bit different! There’s so much to do, I would definitely advise planning for a whole day there and take something for lunch.