Another hidden gem in Cornwall
My wife and I were caught on another rainy Cornwall summer day, and needed something to do that wouldn’t involve us getting soaked. A quick search on the internet suggested the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre.
It’s not particularly well signposted, but if you’re around the Newquay area, just follow the signs for Newquay Airport, and as you get closer, follow the signs for RAF St Mawgan.
A short drive up an old access road will find you facing an airport perimeter fence, with brightly coloured signs for the centre either side of a large gate.
Once inside, there is ample free parking, and their large grey RAF VC10 Refuelling Aircraft will indicate you’re in the right place.
The staff were very friendly, extremely helpful, and often on hand to answer any questions you may have.
If you’ve ever dreamed of sitting in the cockpit of a Harrier fighter jet, or holding the controls of a vintage Hawker Hunter, this is the place to go, as you are actually encouraged to do so.
There are several aircraft on site which you have pretty much unlimited access to, and the centre staff will accommodate small groups for tours of the aircraft, but due to restricted cabin / cockpit access, only small groups of people are permitted at any one time. Even on a wet summer afternoon during peak holiday season, we were able to access the aircraft as we approached them, but I presume this may not be the case on busy days, or as the venue becomes more popular.
I was thrilled to see that amongst their collection, they have an English Electric Lightning Fighter, which I first thought was only its fuselage, but during our exploration of the site, I found it’s wings, tail fin and various other parts, so it appears to be complete, and awaiting re-assembly (a good excuse for a future return visit??
Another iconic vintage jet is their Canberra, which is also complete, and you are invited inside to try out the pilots seat, and sit in the navigator’s chair, which is not something I’ve seen at any other aircraft museum, let alone with the whole collection on site!
The staff giving tours are all to happy to answer questions, and we found them to be very accommodating, and helpful, with funny stories, and interesting facts about the aircraft.
Children are welcome, and those we saw on the day of our visit were being allowed to sit in the aircraft, and were included in the talks by the staff.
In the main hangar, there is (in my opinion anyway) one of the biggest and most varied collections of plastic model aircraft kits, I have ever seen. If you can think of a military aircraft, there’s a fair chance you’ll find a model of it here?
There is a 50’s style American Diner on site, and while we didn’t indulge, the food and drinks seemed to be reasonably priced, and of good home made quality. We had a great afternoon, and I’d like to thank the staff at the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre for making us feel so welcome.
I am an aviation enthusiast, so may be being a little biased? But my good lady wife isn’t, and she thoroughly enjoyed our time there.
I hope you enjoy this hidden gem as much as we did.
Go and see for yourself, and I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed?