Wallop revamp gearing up

March 2019 News

Islander AL1 ZG993 shortly after being craned onto its display stands at Middle Wallop on 20 January.

Britten-Norman Islander AL1 ZG993 was lifted into an elevated position in Hangar 1 at the Museum of Army Flying at Middle Wallop on 20 January as the second phase of the museum’s £2.59-million Project Eagle revamp gathered pace.

The museum, which closed in November 2018, is scheduled to re-open at Easter with a host of new interactive features and improved aircraft displays.

Recently removed from storage at Middle Wallop three years after its arrival from Shawbury, ZG993 will be the only Islander on show in an English museum. The first of seven Islander AL1s entered service with the Army Air Corps during 1989, fitted out with sophisticated surveillance and communications equipment and operating from Aldergrove, Northern Ireland.

ZG993 went into storage at Shawbury in July 2010, moving to Middle Wallop by road in November 2015.

Another machine not previously displayed at the museum was suspended from the ceiling during January in the shape of a former Argentine Army Agusta A109, AE-344, which was captured during the Falklands conflict. It was subsequently put into service with 8 Flight, Army Air Corps as ZE410, fitted out with sophisticated surveillance and communications equipment to support Special Air Service deployments in the UK, one of a total of four A109s that were to serve with that unit.

Rearrangement of existing exhibits has seen Auster AOP9 WZ721 being suspended from the ceiling, while Auster AOP5 TJ569, which was previously suspended, will now be displayed on the floor close to a 25-pounder artillery piece as part of an interactive display to help visitors understand how AOP Auster pilots helped direct artillery fire. A new, immersive audio-visual display will tell the story of the armed helicopter, using Bell AH-1F Cobra 70-15990 and Westland Lynx AH7 XZ697. Interactive touch-sensitive screens beside several helicopters, including Bristol Sycamore HR14 XG502, will give 360° views of the cockpit interiors.