A new heritage trail to highlight the rich aviation history of the South-East of England was launched today by Military Aviation Heritage Networks. The trail features 17 historic airfields, museums, memorials and aviation sites concerned with aviation history ranging from the earliest experimental aviation projects through to the Cold War and beyond. Many sites are located at airfields used by RAF Fighter Command 11 Group, a section of the RAF formed in 1936 to provide air defence in the run up to the Second World War.  The area is best known for its role in the Battle of Britain when it bore the brunt of aerial attacks from the Luftwaffe.

The trail is aimed at families and includes a range of historic buildings and features including an underground bunker, a historic chapel, a national memorial, a control tower and numerous airfields and aircraft hangars featuring priceless collections of aviation heritage that are accessible to the public. The attractions range in size from the six hangars of the RAF Museum in Hendon to smaller, lesser-known sites with unique collections that bring alive a huge range of aviation history. One is even on the site of a working prison.

Funded by Historic England, a trail logbook featuring a map, site summary and websites for all 17 sites is available to download for free and printed copies can be picked up at the various museums, aerodromes and heritage centres involved.

Visits can be recorded in the logbook and anyone who visits 12 sites will be eligible for a reward from Biggin Hill Memorial Museum. BHMM Director, Katie Edwards said: “This is a wonderful guide for anyone who has an interest in aeroplanes and aviation history and would like some inspiration for some great days out. A lot of people are staycationing this summer and this guide can help you find fantastic sites for day trips that will appeal to all ages. Many sites have shops and cafes and they may be closer than you think.

This is also a great way to support museums and heritage sites that had to close last year and have been hit hard financially. Sites are all taking sensible Covid precautions so people can get out and enjoy the incredible range of history we have in the region.”