Aviation Heritage Museum Perth Western Australia

Because Western Australia is such a huge state, about three and a half times the size of Texas, it was one of the first places in the world where aviation was thought to be of commercial use, so mail and passenger services which could cover huge distances where pioneered in the state, and Western Australian history is peppered with colourful and controversial aviators who helped to open up the state in, sometimes, very daring ways.

A great tribute to both civilian and military history can be seen at the marvellous Aviation Heritage Museum, which is located at the Royal Australian Air Force Association headquarters in the suburb of Bullcreek, just south of the Perth city centre.

With a collection that is housed in two great hangar-like buildings, it is certainly worth taking the time to enjoy the displays.

Over 200 volunteers give their time and effort to maintaining and increase the collection, which includes books, documents and photographic libraries which trace the history of aviation from its earliest days.

Although there are many full size, original and replica aircraft on display, the collection also features many hundreds of model aircraft as well as static, moving and interactive exhibits.

One of the most popular exhibits is a genuine Avro Lancaster bomber which, with a wingspan of 102 feet (31.09 metres) dominates one of the halls. This type of aircraft was most famously used in the “Dam Buster” raids on Rhine Valley dams in 1943. As well as this operation, records show that Lancasters made 156,000 sorties during World War II, and could carry a 22,000 pound bomb called the “Grand Slam”.

Another popular aircraft is a Consolidated PBY Catalina, which was used in the Pacific as a maritime patrol bomber. The aircraft on display has been rescued from outside a diner in Texas, where it was used as an advertising hoard, fully restored and given pride of place in the first hall of the museum. The Catalinas are important to Western Australian aviation history as five were bombed in Broome during a Japanese air attack on Australia, and some of them can still be seen there at low tide on the ocean floor.

There is a deceptively large range of aircraft on display, from Sopwith Camels to rockets, covering the history of aviation from its beginning to the modern day, with exhibits being continually updated.

Even those who don’t share an abiding interest in aviation will still find plenty to enjoy when they visit the Aviation Heritage Museum.

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