- Explore the history of this aircraft manufacturer through the many exciting displays.
- Get up close and personal with some of the most influential engines of the last century.
- Take a seat in the pilot’s chair with the LINK Simulator.
If you want to bring the kids to one of the most interesting museums in Hertfordshire, check out the de Havilland Aircraft Museum. Here visitors can learn all about the influential developments in the world of aviation that were pioneered by de Havilland. With an extensive collection of aircraft, engines and interactive displays, children and adults alike will find a visit to this aeroplane museum to be fun and interesting.
The site at Salisbury Hall has a deep history with roots tied back to the times of Julius Cesar and Boadicea. However, it wasn’t until the 1930's when things started to get airborne. De Havilland came to the Hall in 1939 to work on the Mosquito project. They moved here to slip under the radar of the British Government and prevent them from finding and stopping the project. This high-speed, unarmed bomber plane was constructed on site and successfully flown right into the ranks of the Royal Air Force as well as many other air forces across the world. After the success of the Mosquito, de Havilland left Salisbury Hall in 1947, and the location began to fall into disrepair. It wasn’t until 1955 that a Royal Marine Ranger, Walter Goldsmith, decided to turn the location into a museum to preserve the de Havilland heritage and show the public the influence these inventions had on the rest of the world.
The de Havilland Aircraft Museum opened to the public in 1959 as the first aviation museum in Britain. Since then the collection has grown from a few aircraft models to a huge number of planes from many different stages of development. The aviation museum is home to iconic World War II planes like the Mosquito, including the genuine prototype which was the first plane to be on display in this museum. Other impressive models include World War II assault gliders like the Airspeed Horsa Glider, training aircraft like the de Havilland Chipmunk and much more! Children and adults alike will love examining these authentic aircraft models, learning about the history and influence behind them as well as imagining the adventures these planes went on and the places they’ve been.
Engineering and science fans will love the large collection of engines on display at the de Havilland Aircraft Museum. These huge machines were the key component into making the most successful British World War II planes and bombers they could make. From the de Havilland Super Sprite, the first liquid-propellant rocket engine to pass the rigorous government approval test, to the de Havilland Ghost which was used to power the impressive Venom series of aircraft. It is fascinating to discover the science and craft behind these amazing creations as well as the fascinating history behind how they came to be.
One of the most popular attractions at the de Havilland Aircraft Museum would have to be the LINK Simulator. For a small extra price, visitors can take a seat in the LINK cockpit and get a true flying experience. This ground simulator was built as an early guide for pilots in training to get an authentic feel of directing a plane without even leaving the building. The contraption is an exact replica of the cockpit of a real plane and responds to the pilot’s manoeuvring as if it was in flight. Suitable for ages 16+, this is a great way to get a feel for how the first aircrafts operated in the sky as well as understanding the pilots perspective, who flew these magnificent machines.
What to know before you go
- The de Havilland Museum is open every Tuesday - Sunday from 10.30am - 5pm.
- There is no café on site however there are vending machines in the museum from which visitors can buy tea, coffee and sandwiches.
- The Aero Shop is located inside the museum. Here visitors can support the museum through buying a unique souvenir such as mugs, clothing, toy models and more.
- There are toilets, including wheelchair-accessible toilets available on site.
- The de Havilland Museum is mostly accessible to wheelchair users. All of the exhibits and displays have level access; however, access inside the open aircraft is only accessible by stairs.
- Assistance dogs are welcome on site.
How to get there
- Salisbury Hall Ridgehill Station is the closest to the museum, about a seven-minute walk away.
- The bus routes 84 and 602 both have a stop a short walk away from the museum’s entrance.
- There is a car park on site for all visitors.