The Museum has gone from strength to strength during 2008. The year began with the display of several new and upgraded additions developed during the winter close down period, including a permanent tribute to our late President, Neville Duke, a refurbished United States exhibit, a considerably updated area dedicated to the Special Operations Executive (SOE), a new touch screen display featuring ‘Women in the Air Force’ and a new 50 inch screen for our introductory video. Four new booklets on RAF Tangmere’s operational history were produced bringing to 10 the number of such publications now on sale in the Museum shop. Other new exhibits introduced as the year progressed included a second touch screen ‘The Home Front and Air War on Britain’, the erection on site of an original Anderson air raid shelter recovered from the airfield (now complete with full sound effects and offering ‘The Air Raid Experience’) and a film tribute to SOE’s operations from RAF Tangmere. Meanwhile, our Education Department has taken strides in developing the content on offer for school visits. These significant enhancements and innovations reflect great credit on the curatorial and works volunteers and all who have supported them.
February saw the delivery of our Sea Harrier, which proved a major attraction at the Open Day on 9th March when a total of 2030 members of the public attended – some 25% up on the equivalent day in 2007. Our special event “Tangmere 90” celebrating the 90th anniversary of both the RAF and the opening of Tangmere as a military airfield followed on 27th July when an excellent flying display featured both Spitfire Mk9 and Harvard. In October, we took delivery of a Vampire T11 as our latest static display aircraft.
On a different note, we were much saddened by the death of past chairman and long-standing Museum stalwart Nick Berryman in June; Nick’s name was synonymous with the Tangmere Military Aviation Museum and he will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
The new management structure introduced in April 2007 has continued to bed down during the past twelve months and I am confident that we now have a coherent and accountable organisation that will serve us well in the years ahead. The future of the Museum, and the merit of relocation elsewhere on the old airfield against redevelopment on-site, is now under consideration by a small committee appointed by the Trust Council.
Finally, I am pleased to report a slight increase in visitor numbers over 2007, the third consecutive year in which we have exceeded the record visitor number of the previous year.