A hidden aviation treasure in Balcombe is hoping to educate Mid Sussex residents with hands on history.
The Wings Aviation Museum is a totally voluntary organisation run by dedicated volunteers and is a registered charity.
The museum specialises in the conservation of World War II aircraft that have been lost over time.
Many of the volunteers assist with not only the day-to-day running of the museum but also cultivation, restoration and presentation of the aircraft.
One of the museum’s volunteers, Rod Chinn said: “The goal is to ensure that the memory is not lost through the passage of time and that their courage and spirit lives on to inspire us all.”
With Sussex being in the south east of England and on the coast closest to France, many air battles were fought above the skies of the county back in the dark days of World War II.
Aircraft that were shot down from both British and German sides would often hit the ground at great speed and bury themselves in the earth of the Sussex countryside, remaining hidden for many years.
Many have since then have been dug up from the ground and are now on display at the Wing Museum.
Rod explained how the museum is a very educational place for the future generations so they have the opportunity to learn about the sacrifices made during the war.
He said: “It is a growing and very active museum. Through the use of informative displays, it aims to educate future generations of the sacrifices made during World War II in order to preserve the peace we all benefit from today.”
The museum houses an abundance of original memorabilia representing a wealth of display themes including: Bomb Disposal, Home Guard, Air raid shelters, Aircraft Turrets, RAF Bomber Command, US 8th Air Force, Luftwaffe, Russian Front, D-Day & Beyond and much more.
Items include aero engines, airframes, cockpits, uniforms, medals, flying equipment, hundreds of personal stories of war, sacrifice and courage.
One of the most recognisable displays in the hangar is the fully equipped DC-3/C-47 cockpit section of a Dakota aircraft which was used in the 2001 TV programme, ‘Band of Brothers’.
Another popular display is a paratrooper on D-Day simulation, where visitors can sit in the cockpit in front of a TV screen and experience a front seat view of what it was like for the men who flew on that historic day.
The museum is open now six days a week, Tuesday to Sunday from March 2 through to November 11, so why not pay them a visit and discover real history set among the sounds of the 1940’s.
Every artefact has its own unique story to tell. Whatever your interest or background you are bound to find something of interest at the Wings Aviation Museum.
Where: Brantridge Lane, Balcombe, West Sussex RH17 6JT. When: Open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm. Parking: Plenty of spaces on site
For more information visit their website: www.wingsmuseum.co.uk