Day Out With the Kids: Tangmere Military Aviation Museum

A Hidden Gem for Aviation Enthusiasts

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tangmere aviation museum

Last summer we were practically without a home between selling our flat and finding a house to buy so we spent about 2 weeks in a holiday park near Chichester. This was cheaper anyway than and AirB&B in London. The irony. So we stayed at the Lakeside Holiday Park, which was lovely. Anyway, we know Chichester very well, and love it there. It’s a beautiful town near the South coast of England with lots to do. We have visited the Festival Theatre during the annual summer festival a number of times, normally treating ourself to a hotel stay as well – read my review here about our stay in the Harbour Hotel – and stopped in the town for a pizza dinner on the way back from the seaside. Always around the old town and cricket ground – fantastic place to spend a few ours with little kids. But this time, it was different and I needed to find ways to entertain the children for two weeks whilst daddy is mostly at work. So one day I planned a day out to the Tangmere Military Aviation Museum – since the boy is now into planes. He’s autistic as you might know already from the blog and when he’s into something (it was trains for the first 8 years of his life), he’s really into something, neurotypical people might say obsessed, but autistic people and their family will know, what I mean. It’s more than just obsession.

Luckily, it was a short bus drive from the holiday park, so off we went one day. Initially, I thought this isn’t going to be too interesting as it’s a lot of military history involved and of course my daughter also tagged along and I thought, she’s not going to enjoy it. But I was wrong – this is why I decided to write up a review about it, I feel like it can be a whole family day out.

tangmere aviation museum

tangmere aviation museum

tangmere aviation museum

About Tangmere Military Aviation Museum

Managed and run mainly by volunteers, the museum opened its gates in 1982 and it’s main aim is to educate and serve as a memorial too: a tribute to all people serving in military aviation. Preserving the UK’s military aviation heritage and memorabilia from the dawn of military aviation to today.

Where is Tangmere Military Aviation Museum located?

Tangmere Road, Gamecock Terrace, Tangmere, Chichester PO20 2ES, England – located in a corner of the former Tangmere airfield. There is free parking and you can reach the museum by the number 500 bus from Chichester (direction Littlehampton). It’s under cover apart form the museum grounds, so perfect for a rainy day out.

tangmere aviation museum

tangmere aviation museum

What is there to see

Well, a lot. Really, a lot. This is one of the most packed with details, yet still quite small museum – especially if you think about the size of the airplanes! – I’ve ever been. The curation is through the roof. It’s almost a bit overwhelming. You need at least a full afternoon to really take everything in. I’d suggest a minimum of 3 hours.

All the exhibited items have informative and detailed articles on placards alongside them, which is not only educational but brings it all to life. It’s very immersive in that sense. There are many halls crammed with historic items as well as real aircrafts (or the replicas of them).

For children, there are various interactive displays that test their pilot skills and they can even sit in real planes! 

Here are the highlights:

  • Donaldson’s Meteor and Duke’s Hunter – two world airspeed record holding aircrafts
  • Hunter Mk 5 and the English Electric Lightning F53
  • Museum grounds Phantom FGR2, Sea Vixen FAW2, Meteor F8, Wessex HU5, Harrier GR3 and the Vampire T11
  • Various flight simulators, an exhibition of flying helmets as well as several ejector seats
  • Middle hall with lots of war time memorabilia from parachute silk blouses and uniforms to pilots’ logbooks and spy paraphernalia.
  • Battle of Britain Hall dedicated to the crucial air battles fought in the skies over Southern Britain in 1940

tangmere aviation museum

tangmere aviation museum

 

What we thought

The boy is a huge aviation enthusiast and he did have a blast, as we expected. He was fully engaged and thoroughly entertained. He even did things, that he would normally won’t engage in: like balancing a tiny ball on a disc to see if he is pilot material. (He is, says the balancing test – but because he is autistic, he can never serve in the armed forces or become a pilot. Well, as far as I know – phew!) 

I found lots of interesting historic bits, that I have never seen or knew before. For me, it was very moving to see how women were equally part of aviation history in the 20th century and how they equally shared the heavy work load during the world wars: not only at home but in the frontline too.

We thought it’s really an extraordinary place to visit, with unique and one of a kind items on exhibit, not only about military aviation but a bit about life during the years of war. I think, anyone who passes by should spare a few hours and see it. Well worth the visit and the tickets are very cheap compared to the value you get for your money.

Shout out to the volunteers

The staff is super friendly and very knowledgable too. You can ask any question and you’ll be blown away how much they know. They are very good with kids too, explaining and guiding them through stories, helping them to understand a bit more about it all.

Food and other stuff

The Cockpit Cafe serves all sorts of light food and drinks – we had yummy brownies and coffee, but the sandwiches looked good too. Look at my cappuccino (oatmilk):

tangmere aviation museum

There is also a library, a gift shop, a picnic area and the museum grounds with different planes displayed.

You can catch lots of events, family days, workshops and talks too – check out their website: https://tangmere-museum.org.uk/events/ 

Opening times and tickets

Tangmere  is open every day between February 1st and November 30th.

March to October:

10.00am to 5.00pm (Last admissions are one hour before closing each day)

February and November:

10.00am to 4.00pm (Last admissions are one hour before closing each day)

Adult prices are £11.00- and concessions available and children tickets cost £4.50 each but under 5 it’s free. A family ticket is £26.50

tangmere aviation museum

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