On 20 March the Museum of Army Flying announced that it had been successful in its application for £1.59 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which will now enable the redevelopment plan at Middle Wallop, dubbed Project Eagle, to go ahead.
The grant has been matched by a further £900,000 raised by the museum itself, bringing the total project costs to nearly £3 million.
Modernisation work is scheduled to be undertaken during the winter of 2018-19, with the museum re-opening in April 2019.
More than 30,000 visitors entered the museum during 2017, a 25 per cent increase over the past three years. It first opened in a purpose-built hangar at Middle Wallop back in 1984, and has since been extended on two occasions. A total of 40 aircraft are now on charge.
One end of the new display hall will contain a display of attack helicopters, comprising a Bell AH-1F Cobra, Bell UH-1 Iroquois, Westland Scout, Westland Lynx and AgustaWestland Apache AH1. The museum’s Britten-Norman Islander AL1, ZG993, which arrived at Middle Wallop from Shawbury for storage in November 2015, will also go on show for the first time. It was one of seven Islanders delivered to the British Army for communications and reconnaissance work. There are currently no examples of the Islander range on display under cover in a museum in England.
Project Eagle will involve a complete update and reinterpretation of the museum’s collection, and see expansion and modernisation of its extensive archive. Its remit covers the five main branches of British Army aviation: the Royal Engineers (1878-1912), the Royal Flying Corps (1912-18), air observation post squadrons (1941-57), the Glider Pilot Regiment (1942-57) and the Army Air Corps (1957 to date).
Commenting on the award, Chris Munns, the museum’s chief executive officer, said, “This is a most important milestone and a testament to all those that have helped with the planning of the project and the excellent support that we have received from the National Lottery and HLF.”