Today we visited the National Museum of Flight in Scotland. It has been on my things to do list since I found out that Concorde is there! There are two huge hangars to explore, and smaller sheds with exhibits to interact with. I’m so pleased that we took the trip up to East Lothian today, as it has been a fabulous family day out!
What is there to do at the National Museum of Flight?
It is clear from the moment you arrive that you are going to need more than a couple of hours here. There are vast expanses of green grass separating giant hangars and smaller sheds. We started with the hangar closest to the end of the carpark we were in – hangar 2, which is filled with military aircraft. The exhibits tell the stories of military aviation over the past 100 years. Highlights include a Spitfire and Tornado F3. Near to each plane, there are touchscreens with videos and child-friendly intuitive graphics.
You might need to know that there is a video on a huge screen on display in this hangar. The video is on a loop with rests between each show. When the video is playing, the noise is pretty loud and is mostly of planes taking off (including the amazing vertical take-off of the Harrier jump-jet – there is one on display in this hangar).
Noah loved the ejector seat in this hangar, which you can sit in and imagine zooming through the sky without a plane!
We went on a bit of a wild goose chase for a toilet after we left this hangar. The various sheds are not clearly signed, and if you are not all that oriented at the museum, it is tricky to work out which has toilet facilities inside. You do receive a map on arrival, but I just couldn’t work it out! We headed off for shed 10, according to the map, but couldn’t see a sign outside of any building to indicate which one is actually shed 10. So we ended up dashing over to the cafe because we were sure of finding some there.
The toilets are actually in shed 10, but it is better known as the building with the Fantastic Flights exhibit inside (and is labelled as such). There are also loos inside the cafe building and some more in the Concorde hangar.
Anyway, we didn’t have any wet pants or anything, so it wasn’t a major problem!
We moved on to the Concorde hangar, which is huge. The main event is immediately obvious as soon as you enter, but there are other vehicles in this space: a plane from the Red Arrows, an airport fire engine, and other Boeing plane sections.
If you head right when you enter the hangar, resisting the temptation to go straight up into Concorde, you can pick up some age-appropriate challenges to complete in the hangar, and colouring sheets to take home.
Climbing on board the Concorde, to the music from the British Airways adverts, it feels pretty cool! Half of the plane is sectioned off, but you can walk through the section with seats from about 15 through to 1. It isn’t possible to enter the cockpit, but you can look through the perspex and admire all the buttons, switches and dials!
Audio guides are also available. We didn’t get one as there’s so much else to look at and try in this exhibit. You can read about the history of Concorde in easy to read, interesting information boards.
Outside there are loads of picnic tables and an adventure playground, as well as another BA plane that you can go inside. Two more planes are not accessible but look dramatic and are interesting to look at as they’re not common aeroplane colours!
The boys loved the interactive exhibit Fantastic Flights. We spent a long time in this hangar as there’s so much to do. Some of our highlights:
- We made paper aeroplanes to pop into the machine that fires them through the air towards clouds hanging at different heights and distances.
- We worked as a team to safely land in the airship simulator and tried to balance luggage, fuel and passengers on a model of the Concorde.
- Our sight, reflexes and hearing were tested by interactive exhibits to see if we could pass as pilots.
There are many, many other things to try in relation to flight in this hangar.
I haven’t even told you about the ambulance plane, or how many births it has seen, or the see-through plane, or any of the other aircraft in the civil aviation hangar! There are other smaller exhibits in the grounds, too, including a parachute store. I guess you’ll just have to visit and see it all for yourself.
When can I visit the National Museum of Flight?
The Museum is open from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturdays and Sundays only until the end of March, and then 10 am to 5 pm every day until the end of October.
How much is it?
Admission to the National Museum of Flight costs £12 for adults, £10 for concessions, £7 for children (aged up to 15) and free for under 5s. A family pass is £31. An annual family pass costs £61 and if you live close by I think this would be worthwhile.
How to get there:
The National Museum of Flight is about 12km from Edinburgh. You can get the train to Edinburgh, and then another train to North Berwick, and then a bus to the airfield. We drove and found that there’s ample parking. It’s clearly signed from the A1. Click here to go to Google Maps so you can get directions from where you are. If you decide its too far, then do try the Sunderland Transport Museum for an alternative!