Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Royal Air Force Museum

Last weekend, Steve wanted to go to the RAF Museum.  Off we went, on an adventure that (after consulting the "Transit for London" website) had us take a short walk, followed by two buses.  No big deal for most folk, I am sure, but we are still finding bus travel to be something of an adventure.  Neither of the two buses was a double decker, but both were fun! (these ones had a video screen at the front that was cycling through various views of the inside of the bus... so Duncan and I could admire ourselves on screen!)

As often happens, the character of neighbourhoods changes quickly.  Our route took us out of Finchley and into Totteridge & Whetstone, which seems even less urban, and more like a bit of the country.   Lots of green space, and very large homes (dare I say mansions?).   A peek out to the internet told me that conservation laws have indeed left much of this space protected (and green!), and that many wealthy people have their homes there, including Sir Cliff Richard.  I of course "Suddenly" found myself "Dreamin" that I might see him on the bus ride, but maybe that was just the "Devil Woman"in me!   :-)   sorry for the musical references folks, but I am hoping that my sisters will be remembering the many summer nights laying on the beach under the stars singing along to those songs!  Ah, sweet 70s!

Our route went past St. Andrew's Church.  There has apparently been a church on the site since at least 1250.  A wedding was going on, so we got to admire the tuxedos, summer dresses and plethora of HATS which we lounging around the front of the church. Again, my websearching told me that there is an ancient Yew tree in the church yard, one estimated to be between 1000 and 2000 years old (if wikipedia is to be trusted!)  Couldn't help but think of the Yew tree at Arta's place at the lake (down by the stream).  Now I am wondering how old our own Yew is!  Anyways, there is a lovely photo of the church here.

outside the flight simulator!
Eventually, we made it to the museum, which is housed in a series of gigantic hangars....hangars big enough to house a TON of airplanes!  ... everything from the planes like the first one at Kitty Hawk through to the most modern of jets.  There were also flight simulators on the floor.  Alex, Duncan and I took a shot at experiencing the inside of a jet fighter.  I came out feeling woozy, and decidedly happy that I chose a different career path!  One of the funniest parts of the simulator (for me) was that the last 60 seconds of the ride [after it has stopped, but before the doors open to let you out], there was a recruiting advertisement, telling how great the jobs are if you join the RAF. Alex noted that the Ad was not as "high-tech" as the US recruiting ads (which have the feel of a blockbuster movie). Indeed, after showing us shots of dentists, nurses, and maybe even a bar-tender, this ad informed us that "you may even be suprised to know that for some jobs, no qualifications are necessary" :-) No doubt. I loved the element of being a captive audience for the commercial (maybe that is how they can keep the ticket price relatively low). It was fun, so I didn't really begrudge the ad.
A Tiger Moth!
We also went to see a short 4D movie, about B17 bombers (the chairs moved, the room filled with smoke, blasts of air came out at us, etc). Again, Alex wondered why the movie focused on US airmen since we were in a british museum, but.... there you go. I will confess that the movie made me cry. Couldn't help but think about Al and Norm. Indeed, the whole museum (with its emphasis on planes and pilots) left those two guys firmly in my mind. I got to see the Lancaster (which Al flew) and a Tiger Mother (which Norm OWNS... you occasionally get to see if fly over Victoria on special occasions).
The DeHavilland Mosquito

Shot down in a bombing raid
Checking out the cockpit!
After that, we went exploring planes. Amongst other things, we saw a DeHavilland Mosquito, which was the kind of plane that Steve's dad worked on during the war (after he had been injured).

Duncan was also impressed by the burned out carcass of a plane that had been shot down in a bombing raid on an aircraft carrier. Also, he loved being able to climb up to investigate the cockpits of several of the planes.

off to the Sunderland...
In the Battle of Britain hanger they had a Sunderland plane.... a flying boat, as far as I could tell. The thing was HUGE!  We also had fun trying to find the Canadian crest on the wall that had the seemingly hundreds of crests of all those air force groups (divisions? regiments?) who participated in the war (Alex was the first one to identify the moose head!).

All in all, it was an interesting way to spend a couple of hours!

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