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Official opening of new display hall

The official opening of the Meryl Hansed Memorial Hall, Tangmere’s newest building, took place on April 1st this year. It was opened by the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, Patron of the Museum, who unveiled two plaques to mark the occasion. Also present at the opening were famous test pilot and previous holder of the world air speed record Squadron Leader Neville Duke, DSO, OBE, DFC & 2 Bars, AFC, Czech MC, and his wife Gwen – Neville Duke is Hon President of the Tangmere Military Aviation Museum – representatives of the Aircrew Association to whom the Hunter is dedicated, and Raymond Hansed with members of his family. The Hall contains the museum’s English Electric Lightning F53, and the Hawker Hunter Mk 5, both of which aircraft were generously gifted to the museum by Raymond and the late Meryl Hansed in June 2002. Thousands of pounds were spent on restoring them to their present excellent display condition and the Hunter was stored in a local barn for two years until mid 2005 when the Meryl Hansed Memorial Hall was structurally completed and available to store and display the aircraft under cover. Moving the Lightning into the Hall was a very tricky procedure since the top of the tail fin only clears the roof by about 50 cms, which meant that the whole of one end wall could not be put in place until after the Lightning was in. Restoration and maintenance is an on-going process, which, on the Lightning, is made easier by a decision to display this classic fighter with a number of access panels removed thus allowing a glimpse its the complexities under its outer skin. Another surprise came when the museum had the chance to inspect the Lightning’s documents which revealed that one of its two engines has only 27 hours on it – practically new! You can read more about these two important aircraft in the Aircraft section of this website.

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