As part of an unusual and challenging task to move several large objects into the new museum, the engineering team at Aerospace Bristol called on the RAF to ask if they could help move a Sea Harrier. As a result, a Chinook helicopter has been drafted in as part of a training exercise and spectacularly airlifted the Sea Harrier ‘jump jet’ across Filton airfield to the new Aerospace Bristol museum site.
To reach the historic hangar and take its place in the Aerospace Bristol exhibition, the Sea Harrier had to be transported across a railway line and over Filton airfield. With no road bridge wide enough for it to cross, the RAF provided vital support with a Chinook from No 27 Sqn RAF Odiham and the RAF Joint Air Delivery Test and Evaluation Unit (JADTEU) successfully lifting the aircraft to the Aerospace Bristol site.
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Wing Commander Steve Bell, Chief of Staff at RAF Odiham, said, “Getting the opportunity to assist with a complex operation of this nature is a challenge, but one for which the unique qualities of the Chinook helicopter, and it’s highly trained Royal Air Force crews, are ideally suited. Working with our colleagues from JADTEU in support of Aerospace Bristol, in the knowledge that they will be exhibiting this distinctive example of British Air Power to the public, has been an honour.”
Linda Coode, Collections Manager at Aerospace Bristol, added: “We are thrilled to welcome the Sea Harrier to Aerospace Bristol and would like to thank the RAF for their tremendous support. We look forward to welcoming visitors this summer, when they will be able to see the Sea Harrier on display alongside many other exhibits; including its Bristol Siddeley-designed engine, which gave the aircraft its vertical and short take-off and landing capability, and is one of many important engines developed at Filton.”
The Sea Harrier’s new home is a 100-year-old grade II listed hangar which started life as part of an Aircraft Acceptance Park in WW1. Airframes and engines were assembled and tested by Royal Flying Corps engineers, then handed directly to flight crews who flew them to the front. Hangar 16S was later home to RAF 501 Squadron, who were then sent to France as part of the Advanced Air Striking Force in 1940 and saw distinguished service in the Battle of Britain.
Taking off this summer, Aerospace Bristol will bring together a varied collection of nationally-significant exhibits and hidden archive records to tell over one hundred years of aviation history for the very first time. The museum’s iconic centrepiece will be Concorde 216; designed, tested and built in Bristol, she was the last Concorde to be built and the last to fly.