Review 2016: Museum of Army Flying

I’ve been wanting to go to the Museum of Army Flying for ages so when Karen asked me if she could send me her review of the museum, I jumped at the chance!

I’m definitely adding this to our list of things to do this year after reading Karen’s review! Thank you Karen! 😀

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Review 2016: Museum of Army Flying

Museum of Army Flying

If you’re reading this then you are most likely a parent. In which case it’s quite likely that you have put ‘rainy day out in Hampshire’ into a search engine. I did that this Easter holiday, which is how I found out about the Museum of Army Flying.

It’s about 40 mins drive from Basingstoke, just past Andover on the A303. I had no idea what to expect, and didn’t know how long it would entertain my 18 month old and 5 year old.

About

We got there and you could see the army airfield next door. We watched a small aircraft take off and fly quite low around us.

The reception staff were helpful and explained all of the activities that would be suitable for small children. They had a variety of quizzes for different age groups similair to Milestones.

We chose to keep it simple, and look for the 6 pilot teddy bears hidden around the museum.

As it was school holidays, they had some aeroplane themed craft activities on offer in the middle of the day. These were staffed by a very helpful young lady who took lots of time to help my 5 year old make a glider, whilst my 18 month old enjoyed running up and down and colouring in Aeroplane pictures with crayons.

There was a small ball pit and some other connecting tube style toys in a playroom which kept both occupied for quite a while, they had a few books and a box of lego too.

A welcome sight was the padded chairs for grown ups and the room being quite enclosed, which made it easier to relax knowing that the youngest was less likely to be able to do a runner.

As for the actual museum, it was vast. There were two large aeroplane hangers full of examples of helicopters, gliders and aeroplanes from the military throughout their flying history – right up to a bit about Iraq and Afghanistan.

There were examples of uniforms, videos to watch, a mock up of a 1940s house where my 5 year old was interested to hear about food rationing.

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In the far corner of the museum was an old helicopter that the children can climb into. There was a rack of dressing up clothes for any aspiring pint sized pilots and some big piece helicopter jigsaws placed on a low hight table with smaller chairs.

There were also a few military themed shooting games dotted around. Aimed at older children and adults, these cost £1 per go.

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Food

The Café was upstairs (there is a lift for pushchairs) and is open to the public as it is accessible without entering the museum.

There was a childrens’ menu, but it only had hot food, so my children shared a ham sandwich and a packet of crisps.

I had a bacon and brie pannini, we also ordered two soft drinks. This came to about £9.

There were plenty of high chairs.

The café had big windows overlooking the airfield, but we didn’t see many aircraft. I don’t know if that was due to the rainy day, or just their schedules, but it would have been a great view had the air strip been busy.

The café seemed well used by passers by, and there was a whole table of police and then a group of paramedics came in – which was a talking point with the children over lunch!

The teddy bears were actually quite challenging to find around the museum, but 5 year old was keen to put her year R writing skills to use.

This gave me the opportunity to chat to a few other parents about their location, which broke up the day of just talking to small people.

5 year old handed in the quiz at the end and was allowed to choose a glider or an aeroplane colouring book as her prize.

Facilities

There are benches at the edge of the car park if you want to watch the aircraft outside for a while.

The Museum is over two floors and there is a lift.

There was a wheelchair user at the museum at the same time as us, she appeared to access all of the museum without difficulty.

Disabled toilet was big enough to fit 2 children, 1 adult and a buggy at the same time.

Baby Facilities

Ample amount of high chairs in the café.

Acessible toilets include a baby change unit – which had a mat on and some nappy bags to use.

Parking

Parking is free and right outside the museum.

Prices

Tickets were a little more expensive than advertised on their website – £12 adult and £7 for children 5 and over.

I was asked if I could gift aid this, and in return they made my ticket an annual pass.

Rating out of 5

We arrived at about 11am and left shortly before 4.30pm.

The whole place really captured my 5 year olds’ interest – although I wasn’t really prepared for so many questions about WW2, and explaining conflict in Europe.

I was very pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable the whole day was.

The variety of activities, interpsersed with the play area and the opportunity to sit down made the day a very manageable and pleasant one.

Totally worth the entrance fee, and unusually quiet for such a great place in my opinion. We give the museum five out of five!

We will be making the most of our anuual pass and making a further visit this year!

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