Children in Flight gallery


The gallery features the Wright brothers’ model of the first powered flight, Amy Johnson’s famous aircraft Jason, a Spitfire and a jump jet suspended in the air alongside numerous other aeroplanes.

As well as full-sized aircraft, there are more than 100 models on display, including famous passenger jet planes such as Concorde.

The gallery is also home to a unique collection of more than 80 significant aero engines. From ones that powered the first British airship in 1907 to a Rolls Royce RB211, the parent of the huge fan-jets that power today’s airliners. There is also a giant cut out of a 747 aircraft.

The Flight gallery offers opportunities to follow several different themes:


  • Children can observe and record the range of materials used in aircraft to establish that early aircraft were made from materials such as wood and cotton, and over time these were replaced by metals and plastics. For example, the first hot ait balloon was made of cotton and paper and the first gliders were cotton and wood. More modern aircraft are made of metal, plastics and glass.
  • Children can think about the advantages and disadvantages of using certain materials (eg paper balloons may catch fire) and why they think these materials were chosen.
  • After the visit children can classify the materials they’ve seen in the Museum according to properties such as mass, colour, texture, hardness, flexibility and strength (depending on ability of the children).

Children can observe and record information about the following to think about how the shape of flying machines and their components affect how well they fly:

  • Wings – shape, number and position
  • Propellers – shape and number of baldest
  • Body of aeroplane – becoming more streamlined
  • Tail – shape and position
  • Balloons – hot air and barrage shapes

Children can explore how the design of aircraft has changed to include moving flaps which cause the aircraft to move in particular directions. In the gallery they can look for one or more of the following:

  • Fixed and adjustable tails
  • The use of pulley systems to move flaps
  • Fixed wings and adjustable flaps
  • Position of mass of the aircraft (suited to older or more able students)

Children can explore how clothing was adapted to suit changing conditions as aircraft were developed to fly higher and faster.
They can observe:

  • The materials used for clothing
  • The colour of the clothing
  • The footwear worn
  • The purpose of the clothing (The headgear worn) including earmuffs and headphones).

The exhibits can also be used to think about the different ways that aircraft were and are powered, and the impact for the World Wars on aircraft developments. The gallery can also be used to find out about the inventions and achievements of aviation pioneers such as the Wright brothers, Amy Johnson and Alcock and Brown.

Across all these themes students can:

  • Observe and record changes over a period of time, and discuss reasons for these changes
  • Focus on similarities and differences between two or more exhibits
  • They can discuss the reasons why they are the same or different
  • Record their observations using tables, lists, timelines, drawings, writing poems or describing verbally what they see.

suggested 30 - 45 minutess
Suitable for:
age 5 upwards
Places per session:
not applicable
Pre-booking req'd:
Supervisory ratio:

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