Being in Crawley near Gatwick Airport (LGW) by rental car gave me the opportunity to visit the Gatwick Aviation Museum West of one of the key London airports. The visit already took place in May 2022 – now I managed to finally conclude the review posting for you. Enjoy my thoughts.
Gatwick Aviation Museum – Location & Admission
The museum is located close to the town of Charlwood, which is at the Northwest edge of London-Gatwick Airport (LGW). There are roads surrounding the airport, so that it is relatively easy to get there by car. Charlwood is also connected by public transport, you can use bus 21 to the Ifeld Road stop. The services to Crawley or Epsom in Southern Greater London are rather scattered, though. If you are around the airport anyway, bus 22, which is connecting to Crawley and Gatwick Airport, might be the better option (The Charlwood stop), but is also having rather limited services.
Another factor which is limiting your potential to visit are the opening times. The Gatwick Aviation Museum is only open Friday to Sunday. In summer, the times are 10:00 to 17:00, in winter 10:00 to 16:00 on these three days. Adult admission is 11 GBP.in 2023 (it was 10 GBP in 2022).
Gatwick Aviation Museum – The Visit
Already when you enter the grounds of the Gatwick Aviation Museum, you feel that this might be quite a hidden gem. There is a smaller service and exhibition hall as well as a larger hangar, on top of the outdoor exhibits. The items in display, especially planes and engines, are very well documented, so that you can easily stroll through the museum on your own. If you are into aviation at least a but, you should at least plan for a two hour visit. If you are interested in details and maybe also enjoy a bit of Gatwick plane spotting, three hours minimum feels more appropriate.
The indoor exhibits features a lot of engines, but also cockpits and full planes. Below, for example, is a classic, the Hawker Sea Hawk F.B.6. The De Havilland Sea Vixen TT.8, which you see a few pictures later, is also a rather fascinating piece of aviation technology. The hangar offers you a lot to explore. You can also typically have a look into the cockpits of the planes.
The museum also features some really nice outdoor exhibits. For example, I rarely ran into a Percival (Sea) Prince T.1 during my aviation museum visits. The core part of the museum, however, is the Avro Shackleton Mk.3. I was lucky to be able joining a tour of this aircraft. The guide had a flight history on this late 1940’s plane, which was absolutely amazing. I am typically more a civil aviation person, but absolutely enjoyed the visit.
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Mockup
A really cool exhibit I was able to visit is a mockup of a Virgin Atlantic Upper Class cabin. These structures are typically used to train flight crews for different situations onboard. I feel I never saw a mockup of that size in a museum before – definitely also makes you feel like you should try out the airline one day…
Gatwick Aviation Museum – Services
The staff and the volunteers at the museum are absolutely friendly and helpful. They are really proud of the museum. There are some kids activities and a simulator, which you can book. The reception area also features a souvenir store. In addition, the grounds are adjacent to the airport, so that it is an excellent location for plane spotting.
Gatwick Aviation Museum – My View
The location of the Gatwick Aviation Museum is a bit of tricky if you don’t have the car. But it is definitely worth the effort. I absolutely loved visiting this place and meeting the people there. Of course, the tour inside the Avro Shackleton Mk.3 has been the highlight of the visit. If you are around on a weekend and like aviation, I would definitely recommend to have a visit.
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