Aviation Museums & Historic Sites
With such a distinguished history in military aviation, there are many historic places to visit in Lincolnshire. There is no other region with so many former airfields and collections of iconic planes, in fact. As home of the famous 617 or “Dambusters” Squadron during the war, Petwood has a special connection to many of these places and those who served.
From the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's Spitfires, Hurricanes, Dakota and Avro Lancaster, to the Digby Lima Sector Operations Room, to Just Jane at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, there are many famous sites to discover. Here are some of the best visitor attractions, along with website links and key information:
International Bomber Command Centre, Lincoln
Newly opened in 2018, the IBCC is a landmark development in memory of the many heroes of Bomber Command. Featuring immersive exhibits, beautiful International Peace Gardens and the UK’s tallest war memorial “The Spire”, it is a moving and enlightening experience for any visitor. For full details, see: https://internationalbcc.co.uk/
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, Coningsby
Just ten minutes’ drive from Petwood, the BBMF Visitors Centre is a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the iconic aircraft that made history. Operating the AVRO Lancaster, six Supermarine Spitfires, two Hawker Hurricanes, two de Havilland Chipmunks and a C-47 Douglas Dakota, this living and breathing tribute to 'The Many' and 'The Few' is not to be missed.
Even closer to our doors at Tattershall Thorpe, Thorpe Camp was where the legendary 97, 617, 619 and 627 Squadrons operated from during wartime. Originally intended to last just ten years, it is now lovingly preserved to provide not only a glimpse into military history, but also a fascinating look into wartime civilian life with the Women’s Land Army and Home Guard. It is open Sundays and Mondays from Easter to the end of September, plus Wednesdays during July and August from 1pm - 5pm. For further details, see: www.thorpecamp.wix.com/visitorscentre
Ostler’s Plantation is now a quiet woodland, in which visitors can enjoy leisurely walks and cycling amongst the trees and heather. But it has a much more dramatic past, which includes being home to the famous ‘Dambusters’ squadron. Many of the current paths and rides are concrete which are remains from the former airfield. To the south western corner of the wood, lie four circular areas of hard standing. These were the aircraft dispersal bays, and the iron loops set into the concrete were used to tie the aircraft when winds were strong. You can still see flying aircraft from the plantation today, on occasion the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight with the last flying Lancaster and a Spitfire and Hurricane. Planes that the Plantation would have been home to during the Second World War. For further details, click here
Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre
With award-winning exhibits and an exceptional collection of hardware, including an original Barnes Wallis “Bouncing Bomb”, the largest Bomber Command museum in the UK is a hit with visitors of all ages. This site is also your unmissable chance to experience the only place in the world where you can take a taxy ride in LAHC’s star attraction Lancaster NX611, "Just Jane". Please note that booking is essential for taxy rides and there may be a substantial waiting time. See: www.lincsaviation.co.uk
Newark Air Museum
The UK’s largest volunteer managed aviation museum has no fewer than 76 aircraft and cockpit sections on display. From a Tiger Moth biplane to the mighty Vulcan Bomber and planes from around the world, two large display hangars house an amazing selection of aircraft, exhibits and artefacts. See the website for full details, including special tours and events: www.newarkairmuseum.org