We took a trip to stay with my parents, and whilst there we had planned a family outing to the Fleet Air Arm Museum, about an hours drive from where my parents live. Now we have our new ‘Family Wagon,’ we were all able to take the trip in one car saving money, time and making the journey a whole lot more fun. We decided to start our day early (well as early as two children and four adults would allow) so we could get a full day at the museum.
We arrived at the museum around 11am, our toddler currently loves the Disney film Planes so we were hoping she would be very excited by all the planes and helicopters. We parked up, unloaded the car and headed into the museum. We were straight away met with a set of steep steps leading to the Main Entrance, and a small sign pointing to a Ground Floor Entrance for Wheelchair and Pushchair access. However, a member of the family would first have to head to the Main Entrance, purchase the tickets and then head back down for us to gain access via the Ground Floor entrance. It was a very cold day and we didn’t fancy standing around outside with two small children, so we decided to ‘muscle’ up and carry the pushchairs to the main entrance.
Once we had purchased our reasonably priced tickets (they give you an annual pass after paying and children under 5 are free), we headed into the museum. We were first met with a set of interactive plane models showing the aerodynamics of aircrafts. After playing with the touch screen controlled planes we followed the signs round to Hall 1. There are 4 halls in total, all show casing different aircrafts used by the Royal Navy over a series of decades.
Willow and Grandma flying a plane!
The ‘Copter’ was by far Willows favourite part of Hall 1, she explored the inside of one of the helicopters at least three times before we moved onto the next Hall.
Hall 2 had a small ‘Family Activity’ area where there were tables set up for the children to colour in a plane of their choice. They also had life jackets and Pilot’s hats available for the children to try on- Willow wasn’t too keen on this idea. It was a brilliant small area for the littles to take a break however we were again met with a set of stairs to reach this area, we lifted the chairs up again but we would have definitely struggled had it just been myself and Hubby. Once we reached the platform, Willow had a lovely time colouring and I enjoyed looking across the Hall and viewing all the planes. I had forgotten how rare it is to see the tops of planes so found this a really interesting sight.
Willow was slightly confused as to why there were ‘women’ standing in a glass cubicle!
To get to Hall 3 we boarded a ‘Helicopter Experience’ there is however an alternative route avoiding the simulation, and next time we would definitely choose this option. Our toddler really wasn’t too keen on the noise or vibration of the experience- luckily it is only a one a half minute session so was over quickly. Upon exiting the ‘helicopter’ we entered a section which is entirely different to the rest of the museum. Hall 3 of the museum is a tour of an aircraft carrier and its ‘Island.’
Unfortunately we were unable to complete the tour due to 1, difficulty keeping up with the rest of the group as the tour is conducted across multiple levels. There is lift access for the tour however it was a little confusing and wasn’t quick enough at getting us to the next stage of the tour. And 2, it was extremely noisy as they play sounds to imitate that of a working carrier. Unfortunately the noise didn’t go down too well with Willow as she was getting a little hungry and tired by this point.
We decided to leave the tour but we would definitely try it again in the future only without the pushchairs. We were also told the tour takes roughly 40 minutes so we would most likely do this first at our next visit before anyone gets hungry or nap time is nearing.
We decided to take a quick lunch break before exploring Hall 4, as it was out of season and in school term the Cafe inside the museum was closed, however they do have a small restaurant next to the museum. So off we headed to the ‘Swordfish Restaurant.’ The food was what you would expect from a museum restaurant, but the drinks were delicious. I had a hot chocolate and would have quite happily had two or three! The restaurant isn’t particularly spacious and I could imagine it getting very crowded during school holidays. Our Toddler started to get a little impatient during lunch but luckily there is a child’s play area just outside, so Toddler and Hubby wrapped up and headed outside to play whilst Tiny Tot had a feed and we finished our food.
The Fourth and final Hall was probably my favourite, mainly as they have the first British built Concorde on display. It was great being able to board the plane and walk the full length- they were mighty long planes! Most of the interior has been removed but a few seats do remain, we could see that flying by Concorde would have been luxury just by looking at the leg room! Willow loved running up and down the plane, we could even have a look in the cockpit.
We all really enjoyed our day at the Fleet Air Arm Museum and would certainly make a return trip in the future. There is a plenty of space for wheelchairs and pushchairs to easily manoeuvre around however reaching the upper levels is very difficult due to lack of lifts and ramp so I wouldn’t want to take a pushchair next time. It was a fun day out for all the family (the Hubby and step Dad especially enjoyed themselves) and as the weather brightens up over the coming weeks and months we are hoping for many more family outings.
Thank you for reading, I hope you have had a fun packed weekend too.