Thursday, 31 October 2013

MOD Apprentices

This week the Helicopter Museum has played host to a number of MOD apprentices. The chaps in question have been assigned to numerous projects and have been led by Restoration Manager Rod Holloway over the past two days. After already whizzing through the first project assigned to them, the apprentices have been set on to the Campbell Cricket, which as you may recall, has been recently donated to the Helicopter Museum.

To aid work on this aircraft, a number of the donated plans and technical drawings provided with the gyroplane have been digitized; partly for ease of convenience, partly to prevent the quite fragile plans being further handled and damaged. Some of the more interesting documentation is shown below.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Museum Newsletter: Volume 7

Please follow this link for the latest Museum Newsletter; sorry it is a bit late but we have had a few technical issues getting it published online. Enjoy!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

That's just not cricket...Oh wait...Yes it is!

The Helicopter Museum in Weston-Super-Mare has taken delivery of one of the few surviving Campbell Cricket gyroplanes, built at Membury in Wiltshire in the late 1960s as a single-seat development of the original US designed Bensen B.8M gyrocopter.

Established by Don Campbell and partner Geoffrey Whatley, the Campbell factory originated in a garage in Reading but relocated to Membury in 1967. Here designer Peter Lovegrove modified a Bensen with a partially enclosed cockpit and replaced the original unreliable two-stroke power plant with a modified Volkswagen engine, hand-built for the purpose by Royal Berks Motors in Reading. Final assembly was carried out at Membury airfield, close to where the Membury motorway services on the M4 stand today.

Only about 30 Crickets were eventually produced, with examples exported to France, Denmark, Norway, Malaysia and Morocco, and six to Kuwait, each selling for around £1,645 ex-factory. Production ended in 1971 although some kit-builds were revived for a time in 2001.

The example donated to the Helicopter Museum was the third Cricket built (G-AXRA), which was completed in February 1970 and initially sold to a US citizen living in Harlow, Essex. It later changed owners before finally ending up in Cardiff, complete but in poor condition. Originally the new owner intended to restore the gyroplane to flying condition but eventually abandoned the idea and offered G-AXRA to the Museum, along with a second incomplete example.

Led by Collection Officer John Clews, The Museum Volunteers Chris May and Jack Kilmuray collected the cricket on 4th October and it is now planned to refurbish it for static display alongside an original Bensen B.8M for comparison and next to another Campbell gyroplane, the one-off Cougar which was built next door to the Museum in 1973.

The addition brings the Helicopter Museum collection to over 90 aircraft, including 10 different autogyros and gyrocopters dating from 1935 to the present day, as well as a secondary collection of over 100 engines.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Accreditation Success!

I am very happy to announce that The Helicopter Museum has passed its Museum accreditation returns, with the Arts Council England awarding us full accredited status...along with a shiny new certificate! The re-application process was a bit gruelling but accredited status is something to be truly proud of, as it designates us as a professionally run and operated heritage organisation. 


(One very happy/somewhat relieved Collections Officer!)

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Haunted Helicopters

On Sunday 27th October The Helicopter Museum in association with 'Stars Of Time' the South West's Premier Sci-fi Entertainment show, is hosting a special spooky family fun day for Halloween.
The event, with free entry for all children in Halloween fancy dress will feature a plethora of themed activities to keep the entire family entertained (and a little bit scared).

“There will be a free screening of Tim Burton’s 'A Nightmare Before Christmas' in the museum film theatre, fancy dress competitions, scary dancing contests and a host of costumed characters on the prowl throughout the day.”said Museum Manager Lee Mills. “Children will also be able to have their photograph taken with E.T. The Extra Terrestrial and everyone’s favourite 40 foot tall ghost, the Staypuft Marshmallow Man!” 

“Also during the day braver children can test their nerve by entering the 'haunted helicopter' and graveyard while Harry Potter fans can try their hand at holding their own 'Hedwig', courtesy of Avon Owls who will be giving talks and demonstrations during the day.”

To celebrate the ongoing 50th Anniversary of Dr Who, the evil Daleks will also be “exterminating” around the helicopters and there will be a host of stalls selling Dr Who and movie memorabila for all ages.

The Helicopter Museum is a registered charity and houses the World’s largest collection of helicopters.

For further details please visit the event website at