The Helicopter Museum in Weston-super-Mare is the only one in Britain and is actually the largest collection in the world. It was founded by a man named Elfan Ap Rees, who remains chairman of the museum Trustees. Located just east of the seaside town of Weston-super-Mare, three miles from the coast, the museum attracted over 18, 000 visitors in 2002.

The attractions are much more than the helicopters themselves, which are either outside or stored in two large hangars. The museum also documents the history of the rotor aircraft, from its origins with Leonardo da Vinci to modern day aircraft. There are also memorabilia displays and scale models of aircraft, as well as information on how a helicopter flys. Of course, there is also a souvenir/gift shop ("Heli-World"), in addition to the "Choppers Cafeteria" and the "Heli-Adventure" play area for children (which includes two real helicopters!). Helicopter flights from the museum over the beach and surrounding area are also on offer on certain days of the year.

Most of the helicopters on display were donated, by private collectors who found that they could no longer support or fly some of their rotorcraft, or by various air forces and navies from around the world. For example, the Royal Flight Wessex Whirlwind (a major attraction - this helicopter was used by the British Royal Family) was kindly donated in 2002. A few have actually been bought by the museum; for example another Royal Flight aircraft was bought from a collector for something like £50, 000.

There are currently over 60 aircraft at the museum, ranging from the obligatory Huey, to the Royal Flight, to a Mi-24 Hind, to a rare Kamov Ka-26 Soviet helicopter (which was found on an abandoned airfield in Germany in 1995 and brought to Britain to be restored). Pictures of the Kamov being restored at the museum can be seen here.

These are the aircraft currently on display or being restored at the museum:

  • Agusta-Bell "Sioux" AH-1
  • Agusta-Bell "Sioux" AH-1
  • Bell 47D-1
  • Bell 47H-1
  • Bell UH-1H "Iroquois"
  • Benson B-6 (Gyroglider)
  • Benson B-8M (Gyrocopter)
  • Benson B-8M (Gyrocopter)
  • Bolkow Bo102 (Helitrainer)
  • Brantly B-2A
  • Brantly B-2B
  • Bristol "Belvedere" HC-1
  • Bristol "Belvedere" HC-1 (Nose section only)
  • Bristol "Sycamore" 3
  • Bristol "Sycamore" HR-14
  • Campbell "Cougar"
  • Cierva C-30A
  • Cierva Rotorcraft "Grasshopper" III
  • Cierva Rotorcraft "Grasshopper" III (rig)
  • Cierva Rotorcraft "Grasshopper" III (rig)
  • Cranfield "Vertigo"
  • EH Industries EH-101
  • Fairey "Rotodyne" (Y sections(
  • Fairey "Ultra-Light"
  • Hiller UH-12C
  • Hughes OH-6A
  • Kaman HH-43F "Huskie"
  • Kamov Ka-26
  • MBB Bo 105D
  • MBB Bo 105D
  • Mil Mi-2
  • Mil Mi-4 "Hound"
  • Mil Mi-24 "Hind D"
  • Murray M.1 Helicopter
  • Piasecki HUP-3 "Retreiver"
  • PZL-Swidnik SM-1(Mil Mi-1)
  • PZL-Swidnik SM-2
  • Saro "Skeeter" AOP-12
  • Servotec "Grasshopper" II
  • Sikorsky CH-37C
  • Sikorsky UH-19B
  • Sikorsky UH-19B
  • Sikorsky UH-19B
  • Sud SA-321F "Super Frelon"
  • Sud SO-1221S "Djinn"
  • Thruxton "Gadfly" HDW-1
  • Watkinson C-G4 (Cyclogyroplane)
  • Westland "Dragonfly" HR-1
  • Westland "Dragonfly" HR-5
  • Westland "Lynx" (static rig)
  • Westland "Lynx" (5th prototype)
  • Westland "Lynx" 3 (mock-up)
  • Westland "Lynx" 3
  • Westland "Lynx" 800
  • Westland "Lynx" HAS-2
  • Westland "Scout" AH-1
  • Westland "Scout" AH-1
  • Westland "Wasp" HAS-1
  • Westland "Wasp" HAS-1
  • Westland "Wessex" HAS-1
  • Westland "Wessex" HAS-3
  • Westland "Wessex" HC-2
  • Westland "Wessex" HU-5
  • Westland "Wessex" HCC-4
  • Westland "Wessex" 60 (Series 1)
  • Westland "Wessex" 60 (Series 1)
  • Westland WG-25 "Mote"
  • Westland WG-30
  • Westland WG-30 (Series 100)
  • Westland WG-30 (Series 100)
  • Westland WG-30 (Series 160)
  • Westland WG-30 TT300
  • Westland WG-33 (mock-up)
  • Westland "Whirlwind" HAS-1
  • Westland "Whirlwind" HAS-7
  • Westland "Whirlwind" HAR-10
  • Westland "Whirlwind" HAR-10
  • Westland "Whirlwind" (Series 1)
  • Westland "Whirlwind" (Series 3)
  • Westland "Whirlwind" (Series 3)
  • Westland "Whirlwind" (Series 3)
  • Westland WS-51A "Widgeon" (Series 2)
  • Westland "Wideye"
  • Westland "Wisp"
  • Yamaha Motors RPH

Not all of the helicopters are on display at any one time, as a number of volunteers are always working to restore the machines as much as possible. For example, one of the Belvederes, a Wasp and the old Westland Widgeon on this list are currently being worked on. In very few cases this means making them fly again, but as so many are old and neglected it is usually for display to the public. For example, the 10-year restoration of a Bell 47H-1, completed in December 2001, won the 2001 Vintage Aircraft Club's Desmond Penrose Vintage Aeroplane of the Year Trophy. It is these volunteers, the "Friends" of the museum, that make it all possible, as without them many of the aircraft currently on display would be so much scrap metal.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.