Fleet Air Arm Museum

Yeovilton, July 8th, 1997

This section is laid out in two pages. This page describes the Carrier Experience - the next page looks at the Museum's general exhibits.

Carrier Experience

Wessex The Carrier experience is just that - intended to allow the visitor to experience naval aircraft in their natural environment. I don't want to take away from the effect, but I don't think this report will steal the show's thunder. This is virtual reality without the computer - a large darkened hanger is set up with a section of flight deck to display the aircraft, and the Island. Not perfect, but a good effort. Entry is through a Wessex helicopter ( HAS.1 XS863, shown at right) making a simulated flight out to the carrier.. After boarding the aircraft, it rattles and shakes while you listen to a briefing over the PA, and various radio calls. Exiting the aircraft you find yourself on the flight deck, surrounded by aircraft. The deck is quite crowded, and sights include Buccaneer, Sea Vampire, Sea Venom, Sea Vixen, Gannet, Sea Hawk, Attacker, and Phantom. Some of these are shown below.

Gannet Phantom Sea Vampire Tow Mule Sea Venom

Starting from the top right - I have always been fascinated by the Fairey Gannet. I think its the contra-rotating props and the multi-fold wings - or maybe its just that this is about as ugly as a plane gets. This one is AEW.3 XL503. The Phantom (FG.1, XT596) is shown on the catapult as part of a sound and light display about the launch procedure. The D.H.100 Sea Vampire 1 (LZ551) is very historic, as this was the first aircraft of its type to make a carrier landing. The Mule is shown manouvering a Sea Venom (FAW.21, WW138 ).

The next part of the experience involved going through the Carrier Island and below decks to explore the various spaces and their functions. The tour guides you through the stages of an operation, and the tasks involved in getting it airborne.

Comms space Mess hall ADR room

The pictures above show the Comms space, a mess hall, and the ADR room. I won't show any more - you should experience it for yourself. I found this tour to be fascinating - the setup is very realistic, and it was really interesting and informative following through the various stages (I'm glad my partner had a video camera!). We finished up by going out through the multimedia presentation from the Hanger deck - the presentation was great, but photographs don't give a full impression of it.

As you can probably tell - I recommend the Carrier Experience, and the FAA museum to anyone in a position to visit!

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