UK Tour: de Havillands Galore

With the Moth Rally to be held at Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire on the weekend of the 16th/17th August, once we’d finished on the south coast it was time to head north again ready for a weekend of aerial activity. On our way we made sure to call in at the de Havilland Aircraft Museum in Hertfordshire.

Two de Havilland Mosquitos at the de Havilland Aircraft Museum.

Two de Havilland Mosquitos at the de Havilland Aircraft Museum.

Unfortunately we weren’t aware that the museum is only open three days a week, and Friday was not one of them. So if you are planning a visit to the museum make sure you checkout their website carefully and plan on being there on a day that they are official open. Luckily for us there was a small private tour party booked in for a tour about an hour after we arrived, and so we were able to piggy-back on that tour and get a look around the museum anyway. Phew!

de Havilland Air Museum: Trident Cockpit

This volunteer run facility has a number of very interesting de Havilland airframes – Dove 6, Comet and Trident cockpits, Vampire, Sea Vixen, Tiger Moths, Chipmunk and others, but the crown jewels of the collection have to be their three DH.98 Mosquitos. One of these (a bomber variant) is fully restored, while the second, a Mark VI fighter-bomber is nearing the end of her (static) restoration project. The third D.98 airframe is one of the original prototypes, and while there’s a reasonable amount of work to be done on the aircraft yet, it is hoped to have it completed sometime in 2015. Nowhere else in the world can you see three DH.98’s together in one location. As mentioned, the museum is run and stuffed by many volunteers, and as such it does appear to be run on the smell of an oily rag. However a bulk funding grant has just been secured so that a new large hangar can be constructed in the not too distant future and this will enable the collection to be fully housed indoors, which is obviously preferable for any collection of historic aircraft such as this.

Moth Rally:  DH.89a Dragon Rapide.

Moth Rally: DH.89a Dragon Rapide.

The de Havilland theme carried on the following day with our trip to the Moth Rally at Woburn Abbey, which it has to be said, is a magnificently attractive location for an airshow. It also has to be said that we had never seen so many de Havilland’s gathered together in one place before, Gypsy Moth, Hornet Moth, Pus Moth, Tiger Moth, Chipmunk, Dragon Rapid and Dragon amongst others. Unfortunately some high winds meant that a number of practice display flights couldn’t take place, but the Tiger Nine team of nine Tiger Moths did practice their routine for the following day which was a treat – though it may not have been too much fun for them as the conditions were probably classed as ‘challenging’.

One of the highlights of the day was that a staggering eleven Hornet Moths had gathered together for the event. This was the first time for decades that so many of these aircraft had gathered together in one place at the same time, and it was interesting later in the day watching the procession of these aircraft taxi along the road, along to the front to the Abbey itself. All eleven aircraft were parked up in front of the building for a historic photo shoot – 2014 being the 70th anniversary of the debut of the Hornet Moth.

Despite the windy conditions, it was great to finally see some aircraft in the air – the first time we’ve managed that during the tour so far! Things can only get better.

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