I am a bit of a geek when it comes to travel and methods of travel. Therefore, I always get excited (sad but true) when I find that there is some travel related attraction nearby.
On a recent trip to the Bristol area in England, we went into the tourist information office in the UK seaside resort of Weston-super-Mare and came across a leaflet for the “International Helicopter Museum”. With the sort of attractions that one usually associates with seaside resorts in England I was not optimistic. But was really pleased we did.
The museum was set up right back in about 1958 by a group of helicopter fans. Over the years they managed to collect a startlingly large collection of helicopters from various corners of the world, including some absolutely massive ones. I never knew just how large a helicopter can be! Then there are also some very small individual ones.
Personally I found the ones that used to be in the Queens Flight real trophies, and had at times been flown by both Prince Philip and Prince Charles. Another favourite was a huge passenger one in the colours of the Greek Olympic airlines that was owned by Aristole Onassis for a time. Then there are a series of impressive military ones.
There is a cinema area (with some plastic garden style chairs) that ran a film that was actually very interesting about the history of helicopter manufacture in the UK.
Overall the museum is quite “homemade” and clearly does not have a lot of funds to decorate and manage a highly professional exhibit (like say the Imperial War Museum Duxford Cambridge
does), but as is run by people with passion there is a lot of care put into. It would be even better if there was a more slick approach to the exhibition and history, but you cannot fault the content as driven by people who love the topic.
In recent years they have received lottery funds to help with restoration of some of the craft.
I enjoyed the visit a great deal. It is not the scale of Duxford
, but well worth a visit if in the area.