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Aerospace Bristol is a new industrial heritage museum and learning centre being developed at Filton, to the north of Bristol. It will tell the story of the region's world-class aerospace industry - past, present and future. The Aerospace Bristol project is being run by the Bristol Aero Collection Trust.

Aerospace Bristol News

Concorde completes final journey to new £19m home

Martha Lewington

Aerospace Bristol welcomes the last Concorde ever to fly 

The last Concorde ever to fly has safely completed her journey to Aerospace Bristol, a new £19m museum taking off in Filton, to the north of Bristol, this summer. 

The complex move was conducted with the greatest care by engineers from British Airways and Airbus, who managed every facet of Concorde’s final journey. The iconic aircraft was towed across Filton runway and up a ramp into the new purpose-built hangar at Aerospace Bristol. The hangar, constructed by Kier, had a wall removed to allow the aircraft to enter the building and, with less than a metre between each wing tip and the building, Concorde was slowly and carefully winched into her exhibition position. 

British Airways’ Concorde Alpha Foxtrot – also known as 216 - was the last Concorde to be built and the last to fly. She made her maiden flight on 20 April 1979 and touched down on her last flight to Filton on 26 November 2003. Since that landing, Alpha Foxtrot has stood alongside the Filton runway, cared for continuously by Airbus UK and remaining in remarkable condition. Now inside, she starts a new chapter as the centrepiece of the new Aerospace Bristol museum.

Iain Gray, Chairman of Aerospace Bristol, said: “We couldn’t be more delighted to welcome Concorde 216 into her new purpose-built home at Aerospace Bristol. With such enthusiasm for Concorde in this country, and particularly in Bristol where she was designed, built and landed for the final time, it is only fitting that this magnificent aircraft should have a permanent home at Filton. I would like to thank all of our donors for helping to make Aerospace Bristol a reality and look forward to welcoming our first visitors on board this summer.”

Mark Stewart, General Manager and HR Director, Airbus said; “Airbus has been the proud custodian for Alpha Foxtrot since 2003 and has been keen that we could find a permanent location for such a fantastic historical exhibit of Filton engineering skills. After 13 years of caring for the aircraft we are pleased to deliver her to Aerospace Bristol so that people can visit and admire her for years to come.”

David Hart, British Airways’ Head of Fleet Planning said: “It is with great pride that we have helped to deliver our iconic Alpha Foxtrot to her new home.  This move will allow thousands more people to be inspired by her sleek, innovative design and supersonic statistics.”

Starting in the earliest days of flight, when Bristol Boxkite biplanes flew over Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge, Aerospace Bristol will transport visitors through more than one hundred years of fascinating aviation history. Visitors will travel through two world wars, exploring the vital role of aircraft in these conflicts, through the drama and technological advances of the space race and on to the modern day, where they will discover the latest technologies of today’s aerospace industry.  As a first-class museum with learning at its heart, Aerospace Bristol aims to inspire the next generation of engineers with remarkable stories of ingenious design and engineering innovation.

Fundraising for the new museum is not yet complete – with a further £2m required to finalise the project. The development of Aerospace Bristol to date, and the construction of the new Concorde hangar, has been made possible by the support of Founding Partners BAE Systems, Airbus, Rolls-Royce, South Gloucestershire Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund. In addition, the project has attracted support from Bristol City Council, West of England LEP, the Libor Fines Fund as well as GKN, Renishaw and the John James Foundation.

Think your Christmas wrapping is a chore? Try wrapping a huge twin-rotor helicopter!

Martha Lewington

Do you find Christmas wrapping a chore? Do you struggle to wrap a box of chocolates without getting tangled in a ball of sticky tape? Well, spare a thought for the team at Aerospace Bristol and Packexe, who faced the enormous challenge of wrapping a 1950s helicopter this Christmas!

The twin-rotor Type 173 helicopter has been carefully wrapped by protection film specialists Packexe, ready for its move to Aerospace Bristol, a new aviation museum taking off in Bristol next summer. Bringing together nationally-significant exhibits and hidden archive records, Aerospace Bristol will tell over one hundred years of fascinating aviation history for the very first time. 

Packexe CEO, Andrew Orchard, said: “At Packexe, we pride ourselves on innovation. We have over 25 years’ experience of using our technology and expertise to solve a whole range of problems… but we’ve never been asked to wrap a helicopter before! This was certainly a unique challenge, but I’m pleased to say everything went smoothly and we were very happy to support Aerospace Bristol.”

Linda Coode, Aerospace Bristol’s Collections Manager, added: “As if wrapping an entire helicopter isn’t a big enough task, this particular helicopter is an important historical object and needs to be treated with great care. It was the world’s first twin-engined, tandem rotor helicopter, so we had to be absolutely sure that it was fully protected, ready for the journey to its new home at Aerospace Bristol.  Fortunately, Andrew Orchard and his team from Packexe rose to the challenge and did a fantastic job.” 

Developed by the Bristol Aeroplane Company and first flown in 1952, the Type 173 was the forerunner to the Bristol Belvedere. From 1961 to 1969, The Royal Air Force operated the Belvedere in troop transport, casualty evacuation and supply drop roles.

 The team getting started...

The team getting started...

  Linda Coode, Aerospace Bristol Collections Manager (far right) joins   Andrew Orchard, CEO of Packexe (second from right) to celebrate a good job well done!

Linda Coode, Aerospace Bristol Collections Manager (far right) joins Andrew Orchard, CEO of Packexe (second from right) to celebrate a good job well done!

Aviation visionary, Sir George White, remembered 100 years on

Martha Lewington

  Sir George White meets with an Aerospace Bristol volunteer

Sir George White meets with an Aerospace Bristol volunteer

It is thanks to Sir George White that Bristol has such a rich aviation heritage and an aerospace industry that continues to this day. His initial interest in flight may have been kindled as early as February 1904 when the Bristol Daily Mercury printed an image captioned “The Aerostat in mid-air”.

 British & Colonial Aeroplane Company brochure c. 1911

British & Colonial Aeroplane Company brochure c. 1911

Later, Sir George witnessed the Wright Brothers flying and in August 1909 he was said to have attended the Rheims Air Meet. On February 19th 1910, when all his plans were in place, Sir George announced the formation of his aviation company: the British & Colonial Aeroplane Company (later the Bristol Aeroplane Company), setting up a production line in two bus sheds in Filton. Within a few months, the factory was building the Bristol biplane known as the Boxkite. Sir George continued to expand the business and, since then, there has been over 100 years of continuous aerospace production in Filton.

While he could not claim to have been an early pioneer of flight in Great Britain, Sir George did pioneer the aircraft industry, being the first to set up a large-scale manufactory with a substantial financial base.

Born and raised in Bristol, Sir George made his money through sheer determination and hard work, but returned much of it to the city through an admirable range of philanthropic activities, including support of Bristol Royal Infirmary. 

Sir George’s life will be celebrated by Aerospace Bristol, the new industrial heritage museum due to open in Filton in summer 2017. Aerospace Bristol will mark the occasion by welcoming Sir George’s great grandson, also named Sir George White, who has recently accepted the chairman’s and trustees’ invitation to be a Vice Patron of the museum. Together with Aerospace Bristol’s young volunteers, who are currently restoring a wing for exhibition, they will explore the early records of Bristol's world-class aerospace industry and look ahead to the next 100 years of aerospace engineering. 

Sir George will travel to St Mary Magdalene Church in Stoke Bishop, driving a 1903 Panhard-Levassor that has been passed down through the family since 1903, and lay a wreath in memory of his great grandfather. Meanwhile, a procession of vintage Bristol buses will make their way through the city as a tribute to the Bristol Tramways and Carriage Company chairman.