Old meets new in this museum of military aviation history set on the working military base at RAF Halton. The trip to the guard house to again admittance and escort to the building adds to the atmosphere of a visit, and the care of the volunteers for the exhibits is clear as they describe the items and context with affection and expertise.
Named after Viscount Trenchard, regarded as the founder of the Royal Flying Corps, which became the Royal Air Force, and opened by his grandson in 1999, the museum celebrates aviation in general, but more specifically military aviation and particularly RAF Halton’s role as a training centre. Its pivotal role in providing pilots for the first and second world wars is detailed, and visitors will receive an education in aircraft construction, principles of aerodynamics and flight, as well as seeing many of the graceful flying machines which have been based at Halton over the years. There are redundant training aids, purchased from the RAF, which the staff use to explain key principles and give visitors a feel for the experience of pilots. A large archive is preserved for academics and scholars.
As well as its role in preserving artefacts of flying’s past and educating the public, the museum is used to educate recruits into the RAF not only on the history, but the importance of safety and air mindedness. School visits are frequent, and tailored by age group.
Completely staffed by volunteers, and only opened by arrangement between 10-4 on Tuesdays, advance bookings are required, though a visit is entirely free. The museum is easily accessible by rail or bus, and there is extensive free car parking, though photo ID is required for entry into the military compound. The museum is funded by donations from the public as well as funds donated by the RAF Charitable Trust, The Heritage Lottery Fund and the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust.