I blinked my eyes and just like that I as leaving for London. With a minor delay I left St. Louis and met some friends in Philadelphia for the transatlantic flight. After a very uncomfortable seven hour flight (I do not recommend US Airways transatlantic), we arrived at London-Gatwick airport and our EU Aviation Appreciation adventure began. From the airport we caught the Gatwick express to downtown London and followed the professor’s instructions to catch the tube (London Underground) to our hostel. Our room was extremely small with four beds squished into it, but we only needed the room for sleeping so we made it work.
The afternoon of our arrival (July 2), we all met at the British Science Museum for our first session. The museum has a great display of all different types of aircraft and parts. One of the most interesting planes was the Vickers Vimy (pictured), which was the first plane to cross the Atlantic Ocean. It was a larger plane for its day, and had some pretty impressive specifications. My other favorite display was a cross section cut out of a British Airways 747 jet. It interested me greatly to see all of the inner workings of the commercial aircraft. The next day (July 3), we headed off to the Imperial War Museum north of London. The train and bus rides to Duxford took a little while, but the wait was well worth it. My true love of aviation is in commercial aviation, and this museum had many commercial displays. I really enjoyed the British Oversees Airways Corporation (BOAC) BAC-VC10. I had never heard or read too much about this aircraft, but it was much bulkier than I expected it to be from pictures. It was like an MD82 on steroids with two extra engines. It was very different looking, but still very cool. Another plane I was surprised to see in Duxford was the Concorde. (Check out the picture of me by the Concord landing gear!) The exact Concorde at the Museum was never used commercially, but was one of the testing planes used by the production company. In its testing it had set the record speed and the record transatlantic flight time for all the Concords. Also in this museum was a de Havilland Comet 4, B52 bomber, and tons of other really neat planes. The Imperial War Museum was definitely my favorite in England. Saturday (July 4) came and we were off to the Royal Air Force Museum in Hendon. Although military aviation interests me less, it was still top-notch. The displays in the museum were very interactive and held tons of good information. A lot of information was always appreciated as part of our work included filling out information sheets on aircraft and how they affected aviation and the world. With the information sheets completed we would gather and do short presentations on our favorite planes. This was an effective and simple way to grasp an understanding of how important these planes were to their country’s development and protection.
July 5 was a completely free day for us in London, along with every evening after our sessions. With a lot of time on our own, we got a lot accomplished. A friend of mine from the UK I had met many years ago in Antigua flew down to see me in London. She showed me so many neat things and we really had a great time. The list of things I saw in London includes: London Eye, Tower Bridge, Wax Museum, Wimbledon, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Piccadilly Circus, Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, and so much more. I loved everything London had to offer, and I know I will be going back sometime. While we were there we also went to the West End (London’s Broadway) and saw the musical Chicago. Not only was the show great, but the guest star happened to be Jerry Springer! My friends and I waited after the show and got to meet him and get a picture with him, which was awesome. London was so amazing it will be hard to top. However we are about to head through the Chunnel, and I am anxiously awaiting Paris!
Cheers from London,