For lovers of old planes, the RAF Museum in Colindale couldn’t really get any better. For everyone else… well, it was starting to feel a little creaky in the undercarriage.
A major refit has seen to that. This is now one of the best museums in the capital. We’d go as far as to say that it’s the best museum in London north of the centre. For its 100th birthday, the RAF has given us a present.
Visitors are first coaxed into a large hangar. All the exhibits in this cavernous space are new, or at least presented in a new way. The space serves as a sort of arena of highlights, with a quirky but engaging mix of artifacts, uniforms, interactives and a giant sea plane that makes for the ultimate conversation piece in the cafe. Everything is done with clear, compelling labels that aren’t too self-indulgent and invite more questions.
The museum has done an excellent job of installing hands-on exhibits that people actually want to play with — so often not the case. We tested our skills on a flight sim (crashed), took control of an X-plane test simulator (hit the sea) and marshalled Britain’s WW2 air defences (let’s not go there), all of which were genuinely fun and occasionally informative. Kids will love it. Younger kids, meanwhile, can clamber all over the toy aircraft.