Norfolk & Suffolk Aviation Museum
Dave Eade reports from deepest East Anglia on a long-established but still flourishing museum.
Having travelled far and wide in search of these museum write-ups it is right that eventually it is the turn of the home team i.e. the Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum at Flixton in Suffolk. Nestling in the back garden, so to speak, of the landlord of 'The Buck' public house at Flixton can be found a delightful collection of aircraft and artefacts that a couple of hours speed by without the visitor realising the passing of time.
Delightfully free, this gathering of owned and loaned has grown over the years without a real theme but managing to maintain a condition that shames some collections of greater repute. The museum is housed near what was the USAAF base of Flixton where from 1942-44, H coded Liberators of the "Bungay Buckaroos" (446th Bomb Group) were launched against Nazi Germany with the loss of some 450 aircrew. A memorial to that Group and its lost stands proudly alongside a building crammed with memorabilia from this era. We recommend that you do not skip this collection it deserves your attention.
Another building served to remind yours truly of his days in the Royal Observer Corps. It celebrates those volunteers who gave so many hours plotting raids during the pre-Radar days of WW2 and who went on to prepare to plot the unthinkable a Nuclear attack and subsequent nuclear fallout with the same resolute belief that "Forewarned is Forearmed".
The final buildings on the approach to the main hangar are dedicated to Air Sea Rescue and Bomber Command. The former relates to the not too distant past when, from their moorings at RAF Felixstowe, the Rescue launches ploughed their way out into the North Sea in search of downed airmen, determined that "The Sea shall not have them". It is fitting that outside this building can be found an example of the first in the era of todays launches - the Sycamore helicopter resplendent in the yellow scheme of the Air Sea rescue units. Also nearby is a Whirlwind in 2 FTS markings.
So, to the aircraft collection itself. It is difficult to name a star it all depends what you like. The varied collection includes one of the best surviving Javelin airframes (XH892) resplendent in her 23 Squadron markings alongside a truly remarkable Sea Vixen (XJ482). Examples of the obligatory Mystere, Vampire T11, Canberra T4 (WH840) and Provost (WV605) are to be found in almost any collection but surprises to be found are the immaculate T33 (54433) and F100D (42196) showing off the markings of the "Skyblazers" demonstration team, once so familiar in the UK airshow skies.
Examples of the Sea Prince (WF128), Meteor F8 (WF643), Valetta (look inside!) and Anson (VL349) continue to show you how well Flixton looks after its aircraft a fact borne out by the immaculate Lightning F1 home today to a family of Great Tits (see above!).
A further surprise comes in the form of Pucara A-528, one of the trophies brought home from the Falklands War and the graveyard of pieces varying from a Liberator and Spitfire engine to a Hunter tail section - all recovered from East Anglian crash sites. One disappointment came in the positioning of those airframes near the entrance making the Sea Vixen almost impossible to photograph but thats being picky. If you can leave this site without wanting to place a voluntary donation in the box by the entrance I, for one, would be surprised.
I understand that the food at 'The Buck' is worth the trip too!