One of our favourite local treats is the shabby but brilliant de Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre, which everyone knows as the Mosquito Museum. Here they made the first handful of Mosquitos in a hanger disguised as a barn (in case the Germans spotted it) and here they have two beautifully-restored planes and dozens of other de Havilland machines – lots of which you can climb all over – and a fascinating exhibit about the technologically-advanced de Havilland jet engines.
The best thing about the museum, though, is the gaggle of volunteers who run it, restore the planes, make the models and man the shop. They’re friendly and passionate and fascinating (and mostly pensioners). If you spot one you should stop him or her and ask about the latest project (they’re restoring another Mosquito and a gorgeous Chipmunk trainer and they just finished an amazing Moth Minor).
Half the collection’s planes are kept outdoors, so they’re pretty grubby and the interiors smell a bit like a forty year-old Morris Minor but where else can you handle the controls of a de Havilland Comet 4 airliner or flick switches in the cockpit of a Sea Venom fighter bomber? Another glorious and strange British weekend treasure. Click the little pics for bigger ones (by the way, the Moth Minor’s wings fold so that you can tow it home behind your Bentley). Lots more pics here.