Caring for famous aircraft

We have a rich history in fuelling flight, so it is in our interest to protect the history of aviation.

As you know, we are sponsoring the Collections Care Technician role at the RAF Museum in London. The CCT has been doing some fascinating work since August last year, and has been kind enough to give us an update:
The RAF Museum is currently preparing for its next exhibition, ‘The Age of Uncertainty’, which is being assembled at Hendon. It is a massive project which involves the lowering and removal of several heritage aircraft from the hangar roof, including the Hawker Hart, Hawker Tempest V and Sikorsky Hoverfly. I helped to systematically overview each one and check for any maintenance required, since they have been suspended from the ceiling for many years!

The scale of the project meant we had to work with a maintenance team from RAF Marham and an external company specialising in rigging and managing the load distribution of the aircraft. They weighed our Tornado GR1 prior to its planned suspension from the hangar roof, but unfortunately it was deemed to heavy and will now be displayed on the ground.

To allow the movement of other airframes being ‘decanted’ around the site as the Museum’s new exhibitions take shape, we also had to move the WWII bomb known as ‘Grand Slam’, which weighs several tonnes.

General maintenance checks are an ongoing requirement. So far, these have included pressure checks on all aircraft tyres throughout the collection. Excitingly, I have also had the rare opportunity to install some instruments and equipment into the cockpit of the iconic Messerschmitt Bf 110G-2 and was part of the team that removed and then reattached its wings.

Recently, we installed a platform to allow visitors to view the cockpit of our historic Lancaster and other aircraft as part of the Museum’s ‘100 Open Cockpits and Cabins’ event that is being held as part of the RAF Centenary celebrations.

As our transformed London site will once again showcase the Sunderland Flying boat, it has also been necessary to conduct a comprehensive overview of the aircraft to assess its cleaning needs and how the team is going to go about making sure that this stunning historic aircraft is displayed as beautifully as possible when the hangar re-opens this summer.
Collections Care Technician, RAF Museum London