Aerospace Bristol is a brand new aerospace attraction on the site of the old Filton Airfield and whilst it might be the new kid on the block in terms of aviation museums, it packs a very pointy punch!
From the moment you step into the Aerospace Bristol building, you know you are in an aviation environment the ticket desk operates like an airport check-in and with your boarding pass issued, you’re cleared to enter the galleries holding one of the best collection of aviation exhibits we have seen in a long time!
The first area you visit takes you through the history of aviation and its connection to Bristol. It charts history from the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company, The Bristol Aerospace Company, BAe Systems through to modern day Airbus and its computerised fly-by-wire systems. You will explore cutting-edge technology, and look ahead to an exciting future, finding out how the next generation of engineers will push aerospace technology towards the stars.
As the attraction is on the site of the former Bristol Aerospace Company (later British Aerospace) site then it is no surprise that many of the exhibits are Bristol related such as the forward fuselage of a Bristol Britannia G-ALRX, a Bristol Type 173 Helicopter, a Bristol Beaufighter from World War II and the first ever aircraft produced by Bristol, the Box Kite.
With Rolls-Royce based opposite the airfield during its operation, there is no surprise that aero engines feature heavily too as much innovation happened at Bristol. Engines range from the Hercules and Centaurus propeller engines through to the mighty Rolls Royce Pegasus engine designed for the Vertical Take-off & Landing (VTOL) Harrier. They also, of course, have the Harrier to match!
The main hall also shows off Bristol’s military & space heritage with exhibits of Satellites and BAe Systems Missiles.
It was good to see that many of the exhibits were interactive and that younger kids are catered for with a special collectors card that lets you collect stamps at key points on your journey through the attraction (although big kids quite liked this too!)
The star of Aerospace Bristol is located in a purpose-built building outside of the main hall and after a short walk across an old taxi-way, you enter the home of Alpha Foxtrot, the last Concorde to ever fly.
Concorde Alpha Foxtrot (G-BOAF) flew in the British Airways fleet until the type was retired. It flew from London Heathrow into Bristol Filton on the 26th November 2003 where until recently, it sat exposed to the elements near the hangar it was built in.
Now though she sits proud in her new home and helps to tell the story of the worlds only supersonic airliner.
The interactive display that Aerospace Bristol have created is one of the best we’ve seen with video projected directly onto Concorde that makes her come alive, its as if Alpha Foxtrot is telling the story herself. Visitors can walk all around the aircraft on ground level before ascending to the boarding platform to go onboard. Entering through the main door (L1) you can see the cockpit with its old-fashioned dials and gauges before walking through to the cabin and admire the luxurious seats and ponder who might have sat in them. Exiting through the mid (L2 door) gives you an up-close view of Concordes unique delta wing.
If you are really lucky, you might even catch one of the former British Airways captains there.
Aside from the exhibits, Aerospace Bristol has a great cafe which offers good food that is reasonably priced, I recommend the bacon sandwich!
Overall, Aerospace Bristol is a well-polished attraction which offers an inciteful and entertaining look at the history of aviation in Bristol. It is able to speak and engage with all ages from me, the lumbering 43-year-old who is passionate about aviation, to the 6-year-old son who likes the flying on planes but doesn’t know much about them yet. Although it is fascinating that Concorde was able to stir his imagination still, despite him not even being born when Concorde was retired.
Aerospace Bristol gets a 9/10 (Highly Recommended) Rating.
Location: Aerospace Bristol, Hayes Way, Patchway, Bristol, BS34 5BZ
How Much: Adults £15.00, Children 4-17 £8.00 (Ticket includes free revisits for 12 months)
When is it open: 1 November 2017 – 9 February 2018: 10am – 4pm, Saturday 10 February – Sunday 25 February 2018: 9.30am – 5.30pm, From 26 February 2018: 10am – 5pm
More Information: Aerospace Bristol