Chocks away as AirSpace is set to reach for sky

PUBLISHED: 13:18 31 August 2006 | UPDATED: 14:49 12 May 2010

The new, expanded hangar at Duxford, home to a wide range of aircraft

The new, expanded hangar at Duxford, home to a wide range of aircraft

The Crow was given a preview of Duxford s new AirSpace hangar before it opens its doors to the public on Saturday. The £25 million project, which has taken nearly two years to complete, tells the story of British and Commonwealth aviation. The hangar ho

RICHARD ASHTON Museum director

The Crow was given a preview of Duxford's new AirSpace hangar before it opens its doors to the public on Saturday.

The £25 million project, which has taken nearly two years to complete, tells the story of British and Commonwealth aviation.

The hangar houses an interactive exhibition which gives an insight into the workings of aircraft, 28 civil and military planes including a Concorde and a Mosquito, as well as an education centre and a corporate suite.

The hangar has doubled in size and is now one of the largest spaces devoted to aviation.

Christian Pratt, of the museum, said: "We want to move the experience away from just planes and give an insight into the total plane experience."

It will give visitors the opportunity to walk between historic aircraft and experience living aviation history.

Mr Pratt said: "One of the things that I like is that you can walk underneath the planes which make it close and personal. You can view the planes at nearly every perspective which is something that you can't do at other museums."

Aircraft are suspended by cables that give the illusion that the planes are flying.

"We have achieved something quite subtle. The cables are not intrusive," said Mr Pratt.

While commemorating the remarkable achievements of the past, AirSpace also aims to educate and inspire the pilots and engineers of tomorrow.

The interactive exhibitions explain everything from aerodynamics to engines and control. The hands-on experience enables visitors to test if they have the necessary skills to become a pilot - through reaction and eyesight tests and flight control.

Mr Pratt said: "We have to assume that visitors do not necessarily have prior aviation knowledge."

Veteran pilots will act as tour guides throughout the hangar, recalling their first-hand experiences of the planes.

Peter Thorne, 83, who spent 38 years in the RAF, said: "The hangar is very splendid and I'm looking forward to showing visitors around.

"I think people will find this a very interesting experience of military aviation and the noble points of civil aviation.

"It's a fascinating experience for all and there is a lot to be learnt from their visit.

"This is a truly magnificent building. The hanger has undergone an enormous improvement - it really is a different world in here.

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