Plane on grass.
United Kingdom
South East England
United Kingdom
South East England

Gatwick Aviation Museum

Please be aware of government guidelines before setting off.

Government Guidelines
  • Explore the many interesting and informative exhibitions at Gatwick Aviation Museum that track the development of aircraft technology throughout history.
  • Enjoy looking through the extensive collection of over 500 vintage aircraft models from the “Golden Age” of British aviation manufacturing.
  • Keep an eye out for the fun family events that take place at the museum throughout the year.
  • Take a trip through the nature trail nearby and look out for the native wildlife. 

The Gatwick Aviation Museum is a brilliant place to bring the kids for an interactive day of learning like no other. With permanent exhibitions, genuine vintage aircraft models, fun family events and a nearby nature park, this Gatwick museum is the perfect place to bring the whole family for a cultural and educational day out.

Dating back to 1987, the Gatwick Aviation Museum began as a private collection of businessman Peter Vallance. Opening in 1999 as a charitable organisation, its mission has been to spread knowledge and education about the importance of English aircraft and its role throughout history. Today it boasts a collection of over 500 aircraft models including engines, turbines and more. Anyone with an interest in engineering or local history will find the museum’s displays and artefacts fascinating.

The permanent exhibitions cover a range of subjects. The major highlight would have to be the chronological collection of aircraft that illustrate the development of airborne technology throughout the years. From post World War II models to the planes used in the Cold War and everything in between, there are so many different iconic models here to see. The most well known would have to be the Avro Shackleton Mk3 Ph3, a favourite piece of most visitors. Other key models include the Blackburn Buccaneer S1 which served in the British Navy, the Gloster Meteor T7 which flew with the RAF in World War II and the Hawker Harrier, the world's first military plane with a vertical take-off function. Other well-known aviation manufacturers that are displayed here include de Havilland, English Electric, Percival and more! The sheer amount of aircraft on display here is enough to impress everyone in the family.

Another key part of the exhibitions at Gatwick Aviation Museum would have to be the collection of engines. Get up close and see the inner workings of these magnificent pieces of technology. It is so impressive to get into the gears and track the development of the technology through decades of war and chaos. With pieces from major companies like Rolls Royce and De Havilland, this is a fascinating display. The knowledgeable staff and volunteers are always on hand to give extra information and answer any questions you may have about the pieces in the exhibition.

To further engage the public with the permanent exhibitions, this aeroplane museum holds several fun family events throughout the year. Highlights include the G.A.M Engine Run Days, where they take the vintage displays out of retirement and get them roaring for the public again. The G.A.M Open Cockpit days are also not to be missed. Children and parents alike will love the chance to dress up and get comfortable in the pilot’s seat of many of the famous aircraft on display here. The staff takes visitors through a guided tour of the controls, and it makes for the perfect photo opportunity! Keep a close eye on their website so you can pencil in the next fun event on your calendar.

If you’re ready for a cool down after the excitement of touring the exhibitions and getting familiar with the planes, there is a peaceful nature trail in the grounds of the museum. This is a great way for the kids to release some energy, and if you’re lucky, you might see some of the wildlife in action. This place is home to some magnificent birds of prey as well as a small herd of grazing deer. You can even say hello to the neighbouring alpacas! There is no better way to cap off a day of culture and learning than getting a serene breath of fresh air.

What to know before you go

  • Gatwick Aviation Museum is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9.30am. It closes at 4pm during the summer season and 3pm during winter.
  • There is a cafeteria on site serving hot and cold food to all visitors.
  • There is also a picnic area outside of the museum building for those who prefer to bring a packed lunch. 
  • There are toilets, including wheelchair-accessible toilets, and baby changing facilities available on site.
  • The Gatwick Aviation is wheelchair accessible.

How to get there

  • The closest rail station is Chapel Road Charlwood, about a 10 minute walk to the museum.
  • The bus routes 21 and 22 both have a stop directly outside the museum entrance.
  • There is free parking available on site for visitors to the museum.

Please follow the latest government guidelines if travelling by public transport.

Government Guidelines


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