The Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST) museum holds a collection of aircraft (actual and model), satellites, simulators, wind tunnel and Royal Aircraft Establishment-related material. It is based in Farnborough, Hampshire immediately adjacent to Farnborough Airfield on the A325 Farnborough Road. Part of the collection is housed in Trenchard House (Building GI of the former Royal Aircraft Establishment), which includes a library, an archive, and a store. There are aircraft on display, some of which have had significant design and/or development contribution from Farnborough. A collection of wind tunnel models is held in storage, along with documentation and historical records of engineering and technical development. There is also a large collection of plans and drawings relating to the Farnborough and Pyestock sites. Trenchard House was built on the Farnborough site in 1907 as the headquarters of No 1 (Airship) Company of the Air Battalion of the Royal Engineers (later No 1 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps). Known then as G1 Building, it was the oldest building on the site. In 1914 it became the temporary headquarters of Lord Trenchard when he was appointed Officer Commanding the Military Wing of the Royal Flying Corps. The RFC's first operational squadrons were based in the hangars immediately in front of the building.
There are a number of galleries in the museum. Display Hall 1. This is the main hall in the Grade 2* listed Trenchard Building. It contains an eclectic mix of aviation and RAE technologies, as well as RAE social paraphernalia, including the Test Pilot's Memorial - a collaboration between FAST and Aeroplane magazine. One of the highlights is the 1943 Whittle W2/700 Jet engine and the unique re-heat & by-pass turbines which were to be used on the ill-fated Miles M52 supersonic aircraft of 1945. Regular changes to displays are made and currently there is an exhibition commemorating the work done in the Royal Aircraft Factory during WW1. Displa Hall 2. This hall is the original 1908/9 Balloon School storage area. A rotating and cut-away Rolls Royce Conway jet engine allows the workings of a jet engine to be clearly seen. Dominating the entrance to the hall is a Stiletto supersonic target drone (Mach 2.8, 91,000 ft), with a unique Polaris Chevaline nose section displayed in its wake. The old RAE Technical College wind-tunnel (ex-Gottingen) is in running condition and used as an educational tool. A small number of the large collection of RAE wind-tunnel models are also on display.
The Cody Pavilion was constructed in 2008 to house the full scale replica of Samuel Cody's Flyer. The replica is on show in a striking and modern building - the outer cover is similar to the roof of the Millenium Dome. Also - very appropriately - it closely resembles the airship hangar frame of 1919 that has been restored and re-erected in the adjoining business park, which can be seen in the background from the Museum site. The Cody Flyer Project was an ambitious undertaking by FAST volunteers to construct a full scale replica of Samuel Franklin Cody's British Army Aeroplane No1A. The highly accurate non-flying replica was constructed to commemorate the centenary of the first aeroplane to make a powered, controlled and sustained flight in Great Britain, which took place at Farnborough on 16 October 1908. Built at Farnborough, the replica construction took over 18 months and this extremely large exhibit (53ft wingspan) is now a visitor highlight of the FAST Museum. The display also includes a full scale mock-up of the Cody Flyer cockpit connected to a flight simulator, thus visitors can try a flight for themselves!
Sponsored by QinetiQ, the model room contains some 237 1/72 scale aircraft (only 50% of their complete collection) from World War 1 through the inter-war years, through WW2 to the present day. It includes a number of experimental aircraft flown at RAE or elsewhere as well as a collection of RAE Experimental Flight Department aircraft in the 'raspberry ripple' livery. Some of the models are part of a collection donated to FAST by Richard L Ward and David Cook who, with Alan W Hall constructed over 1000 models which became the 'History of Air Power' collection. Further models have since been donated. Also in the Cody Pavilion are a number of models of the RAE German Aircraft exhibition in 1945 built by the Farnborough Branch of the International Plastic Modellers Society.
The cupboard, situated in the entrance hall of the Museum in Trenchard House, was used as the first photographic darkroom by the Royal Flying Corps in 1912, being used by Air Mechanic F.C.Victor Laws who was seconded from the Coldstream Guards to the RFC not only as a mechanic but also a photographer. He was soon put in charge of the photographic section of No 1 Squadron and continued in the field of aerial photography, becoming the aerial photography expert in the RAF and known colloquially as the "Father of RAF Photography". It all started here!
The FAST Collection of Flying Clothing, described officially as Aircrew Equipment Assemblies (AEA), has more than 250 items of protective assemblies for aircrew. These include a full range of aircrew coveralls, partial & full pressure suits, 'Mae Wests', 'g' suits, flying helmets, PECs boots, gloves etc - right from the early days through to the present. Throughout the major development phases of flying clothing, Farnborough has been at the forefront of research and development into this topic. The work was covered by a combination of the Human Engineering science and engineering research and development by RAE Mechanical Engineering and Human Engineering Departments and by the medical and physiological development and lab and flight-testing of the RAF Institute of Aviation Medicine (IAM). The collection has virtually the full range of production prototype Full Pressure Suits that were being developed in the mid 1950's and an excellent RAE Type B Full Pressure Suit, along with other RAE prototypes, that were being developed for high-altitude flight in the V-bombers and were to be tested in the Victor B2 at A&AEE Boscombe Down. After the cessation of the Full Pressure Suit research, the later developments of partial pressure garments combined with anti-g suits and air ventilated cooling are kept in the collection, and this type of AEA was common in Lightning squadrons. The range of flying helmets includes all of the types from the Mk1 and 'G' helmet inner through to the current Mk 4, as well as the range of Taylor Pressure Helmets (again used in Lightning operations) and a number of experimental helmets. Recently, QinetiQ donated the prototype space models of the Mk4 helmet mounted sight, used operationally in Jaguar and a prototype of the helmet mounted display being developed for Eurofighter/Typhoon. RAE carried out an extensive research & development programme on both of these helmet mounted devices, including many flight trials in the RAE Jaguars and Tornado.
There is a wonderful display of aircraft. These include: The Hunter WV383 came off the Kingston production line in 1955 as a single seat F4 and was damaged in service in a wheels-up landing. Following repair, it was returned to Hawkers and converted to the two-seat T7. Returned to the RAF it served with 79 and 4 Squadrons in Germany and later with FEAF with 28 & 20 Squadrons, before returning to the UK for storage. On 21 July 1971 it was delivered to RAE Farnborough; and in 1973 sent to Cranfield to be fitted with twin HUDs and a TV camera. The first TV sortie from Farnborough was in November 1974. The fitting of early generation LLTV was followed by a nose mounted FLIR and the Hunter was now called 'HECATE - Lady of the Night'. The experimental PENETRATE pod programme continued into the 1990s and this covert systems demonstrator enhanced the aircrafts capability for high-speed, low-level penetration at night in adverse weather conditions, with a terrain database - which allows visual cueing to the pilot of ground terrain and fixed obstacles displayed through the HUD FLIR picture. The PENETRATE pod is currently fitted on the starboard wing and an earlier pod on the port wing. By December it had accrued a total flying time of 3,670.30 hours and was retired and donated to FAST by QinetiQ.
Harrier T.4 XW934 - This aircraft was the first generation of the Harrier series, the first operational close support and reconnaissance fighter aircraft with a Vertical/Short Take-Off and Landing capability (VSTOL). The Museum Harrier XW934 (C/N 212017) was first flown on the 16th October 1973 and delivered to RAF Valley on Oct 26th. At the end of its service life it was flown to RAE Farnborough in 1990 and was used as an Electromagnetic Compatibility test vehicle with Flight Systems Department. Donated by QinetiQ to FAST it arrived on 29th August 2009 and is complete with all systems. Folland Gnat XP516 - The Gnat was generally used as a training aircraft by the RAF CFS and No4 FTS at RAF Valley for some 16 years. This airframe returned to instructional duties at RAF Cosford in 1978 before being allocated to Farnborough, where it was used for studies in airframe vibration before retiring to FAST Museum.
Puma Helicopter XW241 - This helicopter was the eighth of a development batch hand-built by Aerospatiale at Marignane, France; first flying there on 20 July 1968. It was delivered to Westlands at Yeovil on 10 October 1968 as a pattern airframe for the RAF Puma HC1. Puma XW241 was acquired by Aero Flight, RAE Bedford in May 1973 where it was extensively instrumented for a wide range of helicopter research activities. It was also equipped with an internal winch for use in model dropping trials. While at Bedford, the aircraft was employed in a successive number of classic experiments, using specially modified main rotor blades to gain an understanding of rotor performance aerodynamics - the first time this had been done in flight. These measurements made an invaluable contribution to the development of theoretical models of rotor systems - an essential input to the design of advanced rotors - and have facilitated the design of the advanced rotor blades incorporated in the record breaking Lynx helicopter and the rotors of recent military aircraft such as the Merlin. Similar programmes were later carried out on this aircraft into the associated aerodynamics of tail rotors and an investigation into blade kinetic heating, an issue related to the modelling of blade ice formation. Research interest also existed into advanced methods of assessing rotary wing handling qualities and the development of sophisticated simulation models for helicopters. This was carried out on XW241 using carefully designed control inputs and the selection of specific flight conditions. The analysis of the response of the aircraft also included the aerodynamic data available from the rotor system and allowed a richer understanding of the nature of the flight mechanics involved. In turn this work has contributed strongly to modern design tools for helicopters and their handling qualities. At the end of its long and valuable serviceable life, Puma XW241 was used as an EMC test-bed by DRA/DERA and QinetiQ before donation to the FAST Museum.
Jaguar XW566 - This aircraft was the initial RAF Jaguar B (two-seat Trainer) and the final prototype (B08). First flown on August 30th 1970, this eighth prototype had 80% of the airframe to production standard. Used initially by BAC at Warton as a trials aircraft, it carried out low light TV (LLTV) work and some helmet-mounted display research. It spent some time at AAEE Boscombe Down in various trials, including rough-field take-off and landing, and was part of further LLTV trials undertaken with RAE Hunter T7 WV383 - also in this FAST collection. XW566 arrived at Farnborough on 3rd February 1982 with a LLTV pod mounted on the fuselage centre-pylon. After returning from Kemble, newly resplendent in it's 'raspberry ripple' paint scheme, it was used to trial and evaluate the Smiths enhanced diffractive optics Head-up Display (HUD), more LLTV research and vibration measurements for ISVR at Southampton University. After its last flight on 17 June 1985, it was used at Farnborough for Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) testing, including research into external radio-frequency field penetration and lightning strikes until 2004.
Canberra B (I) 6 WT309 - Built by English Electric at Preston, this Canberra carried out its first flight in April 1955 and arrived at Farnborough on 11th July 1957 and was taken officially onto RAE's books on 28th February 1958. Allocated to Armaments Flight (which became Weapons Flight in 1963) it was operated from Farnborough and West Freugh on various weapons trials - including bombing and fuzing trials - and carried on trials-flying up to the mid-1980s when it was retired from the RAE fleet and put into storage. Then allocated to AAEE Boscombe Down for apprentice training it was broken up at Boscombe Down in 1998. GAF Jindivik - The Jindivik is a target drone produced by the Australian Government Aircraft Factory (GAF). The name derives from the Aboriginal word meaning 'the hunted one'. The prototype drone flew on 28th August 1952 and many were in use by the RAE at the Llanbedr establishment and fired over the Aberporth test range. This drone stands on its original launch trolley and completed 12 sorties before retirement to FAST.
Other non FAST aircraft on display include:- English Electric Lightning T5 XS420. Lightning T5 XS420 is essentially the F3 fighter variant of the aircraft with a side by side cockpit fitted to allow for the training of pilots. The aircraft's combat capabilities were the same as the fighter version with a similar performance. Constructed at Warton, XS420 undertook her first flight on 23 January 1965, in the hands of D M Knight. Following service acceptance, the aircraft was allocated to 226 OCU RAF Coltishall. In 1976 the aircraft moved to RAF Binbrook and served with the Lightning Training Flight. The Lightning flew a total of 2296 hours in her career before eventually being stored at the airfield and disposed of in 1987. Following sale the T5 moved to Farnborough in July 1988, before a further move to Fenland Aviation Museum in 1994. XS420's life in preservation took another turn in 2003 when the aircraft was chosen by the RAF to appear in that year's static display at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT); the theme being the celebration of 100 years of flight. The RAF restored the aircraft at RAF Cranwell from where she went on to be displayed at RIAT. Following the airshow, the aircraft took up residence at FAST and was acquired in 2006 by Neil & Heather Airey of Lakes Lightnings. In June 2012 the aircraft was purchased from Neil & Heather and is now owned by FASTA Member Richard Hall.
Beagle 206X G-ARRM. This particular aircraft was the prototype of a twin-engined light transport, the design of which was started in 1960. The first flight was from Shoreham Airport on 15th August 1961 and, being the prototype, was subjected to various air tests and demonstrations to potential customers. This aircraft appeared at the Farnborough Air Show in September 1961 and HRH Prince Phillip took the controls of the aircraft during one of the demonstration flights. From drawing board to flight took the amazingly short time of one year; and some three years later, in December 1964, the CofA expired, being finally withdrawn by the CAA in January 1968. After retirement from flying she was passed to the Imperial War Museum in 1970 and moved to various locations before being acquired by the Brooklands Museum in 1990. She was recently restored by volunteers at Shoreham Airport and arrived by road at the FAST Museum on 10 December 2011 on a long term loan.
Aerospatiale SA.341C Gazelle HT.2 XW863. For many years Gazelles have regularly been seen in the Hampshire skies, so it is very apt that one is on display at FAST. Gazelles have flown from the local airfield at Middle Wallop for many years and continue to do so, but their numbers are now relatively small. Many Gazelles have now found their way on to the civilian register and their familiar unique sound can still often be heard in Hampshire. The Gazelle is a small helicopter that was designed to undertake roles in the light transport, observation and attack roles. The Gazelle has been a mainstay of the Army Air Corps and has seen active service in the Falklands War and in Northern Ireland during the time of the Troubles. However, it was not only the British Army who used the Gazelle as FAST's exhibit was flown by the Fleet Air Arm; and other airframes were utilised by the Royal Marines. The helicopter was originally with No 705 Squadron (coded CU-42) RNAS Culdrose. During its Naval career the Gazelle was part of The Sharks Helicopter Display Team. Following the aircraft's withdrawal from service it went into store at Wroughton before moving to Middle Wallop as an instructional airframe. Later the helicopter moved to the School of Electronic and Aeronautical Engineering at Aborfield, again as an instructional airframe serial no TAD022. From Aborfield the Gazelle appears to have moved to Cranfield before a further relocation and storage at Fair Oaks. A loan agreement was reached with FAST, with XW863 being transported by road to Farnborough where reassembly took place to enable the aircraft join the other aircraft in FAST's collection.
The Museum is fully wheelchair accessible. Disabled toilets are available. Volunteer staff are always on hand for assistance and will be more than happy to help you. Assistance Dogs are welcome. Parking is free at the Museum and there is plenty of space.
Location : Farnborough Air Sciences Museum, Trenchard House, 85 Farnborough Road, Farnborough, Hampshire GU14 6TF
Transport : Farnborough (National Rail) then bus (10) or 20 minute walk. Bus Routes : 10, 401, 423 and Stagecoach Gold 1 stop close by. Air: Farnborough (37 minutes from London).
Opening Times :Saturdays, Sundays + Bank Holidays 10:00 to 16:00
Tickets : Free (Donations Welcomed)
Tel. : 01252 375050