THIS MUCH-LOVED TOURIST ATTRACTION HAS CLOSED AND CLEARED ITS SITE. THE BELOW COPY IS OLD SO DO NOT PLAN TO GO TO THE CENTRE AS IT’S NOT THERE ANY MORE. THE BELOW COPY (FROM 2022) IS HERE MERELY AS REFERENCE…
Airplanes. Some people love them and some people don’t. And then there are those people who positively adore them, particularly when they’re fighter jets and they’ve seen battle. If you’re one of these aircraft fanatics – or if you just fancy seeing and learning about some awesome fighter jets in a relaxed environment – then you would love the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre. Except it’s now closed for the winter and it may never reopen.
The centre may not continue to exist, sadly. On Monday 31 October, 2022, it closed its doors for the winter season. They may never reopen. Unless a suitable site is found for the attraction to relocate to (soon!) then it is likely to have closed for good. This is because its lease is set to terminate on Friday 31 March, 2023. Cornwall Council, the museum’s landlord, has given that deadline.
Supporters of this popular attraction are on a mission to find a new site right now, though. Without the centre, the only aviation or aerospace dedicated museum in Cornwall, Devon and Dorset will have gone. You can help by signing the petition against the closure here.
The heritage centre, which sits right next door to RAF St Mawgan on the outskirts of Newquay, opened in 2015. Set in and around some ex-Royal Air Force Hardened Aircraft Shelter buildings, it was created to save a collection of historic aircraft after a major aviation museum project in the county collapsed. It did save the collection and it now crams those aircraft into this well-organised park.
There’s been a wealth of historic jet fighters and bombers on show at the centre, as well as a fully functional former RAF Hardened Aircraft Shelter hangar with those jet fighters and bombers just outside. Jets from every decade between the 1940s and 2000s have been on display and visitors could climb into many of them to get the full experience of what it would have been like flying these marvellous beasts through the skies. There’s been an English Electric Canberra on the site, as well as a Hawker Siddeley Harrier, two Panavia Tornados , two Hawker Hunters and many other planes on show too.
Volunteer guides have also been on hand across the heritage centre. They were there until 31 October, at least. They explained the history and details of each plane to visitors and recounted many of the stories that surrounded them. And then there’s been the attraction’s collection of more than 1,500 model aircraft to browse before you could become a fighter pilot yourself in a special simulator on the site. In the simulation, you could fly a Hawker Hunter that takes off from nearby Newquay Airport and nosedives around the stunning Cornish skies. The most accomplished visitors have enjoyed flying under Plymouth’s famous Tamar Bridge!
For refreshments, there’s been a decent café at the heritage centre that has done hot and cold snacks alongside a shop for souvenirs, books and toy aircraft. Fingers crossed that visitors will enjoy the centre (wherever it may land) in 2023 and well into the future. Watch this space for details should the centre reopen.