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A Hawker Siddeley Trident cockpit experience – Jet Age Museum style

A Hawker Siddeley Trident cockpit experience – Jet Age Museum style

The Gloucestershire Aviation Collection’s Jet Age Museum (JAM) is known for its collection of restored military aircraft with connections to Gloucestershire’s aerospace industry. But look closer among the Gloster Meteors, Javelin, E28/39 and others and you’ll notice the front section of a 1970s BEA/British Airways HS-121 Trident 3B airliner. G-AWZU stands proudly in the museum grounds, next to the boundary with Gloucestershire Airport. She represents a key piece of Gloucestershire, British and world aviation history. Through our Jet Set Journey cockpit experience, you can step back in time to experience the world’s first commercial airliner with the blind landing capability that allowed it to land in fog. This pioneering technology was the locally developed and manufactured Smiths Industries Trident Autoland System…

Access to the painstakingly restored front cabin and cockpit of our beloved G-AWZU is only possible thanks to the efforts of a dedicated volunteer team. The scope of the work involved is clear from the following picture of the pre-restoration cockpit.

Several volunteers were even involved with the Trident 3B and its innovative autolanding system while the airliner was in service. Visit the Jet Age Museum and you could meet some of them as they welcome you to the interactive Trident 3B cockpit experience. And as they show you around G-AWZU’s cabin and take you onto what was, back in the 1970s, a state-of-the art airliner flight deck. (Of course, Trident experts will quickly spot the differences between this example and earlier Trident cockpits.)

Meet the museum’s ‘Mr. Trident’

If any Jet Age Museum volunteer deserves the nickname ‘Mr. Trident’, it’s got to be Dave West. He’s been involved with the project since G-AWZU was craned off a low-loader and positioned in the museum grounds in 2013.

Dave says: ‘G-AWZU served BEA and British Airways between 1972 and New Year’s Eve 1985 when she completed her final revenue service flight (BA charter flight BA9198C) from Amsterdam to London Heathrow. A couple of months later, in March 1986, she made her final positioning flight to Stansted airport. Once there, she was used for pushback and cabin evacuation ground training; later, for BAA fire service training duties before being scrapped in 2003.

‘An interesting YouTube video, End of a Trident, records the drama of that event as G-AWZU fought to the last! We later bought the nose section from GJD Tech at Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome. By 2015, we’d raised the funds to start work on restoring our acquisition. The rest is Jet Age Museum history. Today, whether we’re adding the last few elusive period instruments, replacing seat covers or restoring the foam on pilots’ windows, we’re still working on our beloved Trident. G-AWZU is among our most popular exhibits. She delivers a fantastic cockpit experience for young and old, the general public and hard-core airliner enthusiasts alike.’

Preserving the past and inspiring the future

Having such an accessible Trident 3B cabin and cockpit combo epitomises the Jet Age Museum’s ‘Preserve the Past and Inspire the Future’ philosophy.

June 2023 marks the golden fiftieth anniversary of G-AWZU’s first flight on Wednesday 28 June 1972. It was a time when Nixon, Heath and Kosygin starred in world politics. Don McLean’s ‘Vincent’ topped the UK music charts. And our beloved ‘Ground Gripper’ first took off from De Havilland’s Hatfield, UK, factory before delivery to BEA – later British Airways – a few weeks later.

No wonder G-AWZU offers such a wonderfully immersive 1970s experience if you want to visit a Trident cockpit and see authentic period details such as the aircraft’s moving map display. Visiting her evokes the magic of the world’s first T-tail, triple-rear-engine (four-if you include the Trident 3B’s Rolls-Royce RB 162-86 booster engine added to help with take-off and initial climb) turbojet airliner.

For today’s youngsters, who may be about to make their first flight, G-AWZU offers a great opportunity to visit an airliner cabin and cockpit. In-flight airliner cockpit visits were banned after 9/11. Our Trident open cockpit means youngsters can compare 1960s aerospace engineering with the ‘glass cockpit and fly-by-wire’ technology they’ll see if they visit the latest Airbus or Boeing flight deck after a modern flight. Maybe, getting up close and personal with our Trident airliner nose section, and pioneering period technology such as the triplex pitch control module of the autoland system, will inspire a career in aviation.

Who knows, the girl or boy who visits our cockpit experience could one day develop pioneering avionics for a new generation of electric airliners? It could happen!

Trident’s pioneering airliner technology

So the HS-121Trident 3B – now lovingly named Tina – represents pioneering airliner technology from over half a century ago. To put this in perspective, when the Wright Brothers’ Kitty Hawk flew in 1903, it preceded the Trident’s first flight (January 1962) by a period similar to that which has passed since then. Consider Kitty Hawk’s pioneering 120 ft. (37 m) flight lasting just 12 seconds, and the nearly-10,000-mile (16,093 km) scheduled passenger flights made by today’s airliners.

The Smiths Industries Trident Autoland System

Our Trident represents the midpoint of that development. She’s a very significant aircraft, made all the more important by the locally designed and made autolanding system. You’ll learn more about this during your Trident flight deck experience.

Jet Age Museum volunteer Steve Williams (who also took the photographs for this article) was on the Smiths Industries team responsible for the Hawker Siddeley Trident blind landing system. Steve explains: ‘The avionics were very advanced for the time. A key part of these systems was the triplex – three-way redundancy – blind landing system. The Smiths Industries Trident Autoland System (part of the SEP.5 autopilot system) enabled the aircraft to land in the lowest visibility. With three parallel lanes of computing – hence ‘triplex’ – it was genuinely leading edge for its time. It speaks volumes that Smiths were entrusted with developing the first such system for a commercial aircraft. What’s more, it all happened ‘just down the road’ from the museum! I’m not the only JAM volunteer with direct Trident experience. Tony Mackinnon was on G-AWZU’s last commercial flight. And Mike Dempsey’s wife was involved with dispatching new and repaired Trident autoland system components from Smiths.’

‘There’s an interesting fact about the Trident’s offset nose wheel,’ explains Steve. ‘Many people mistakenly think it was designed so the nose wheel didn’t engage with runway lighting. In fact, the offset nose wheel, with its sideways retraction at right angles to the aircraft’s longitudinal axis, allowed the large avionics bay needed to house the bulky 1960s avionics. That offset has caught out at least one filmmaker, and annoyed Trident fans, when reversed video has wrongly shown the nose wheel on a Trident’s starboard side.’

JAM’s aviation film star

While we’re on the subject of film, Trident G-AWZU even enjoyed a moment of TV fame when she appeared in an episode 1.04 (‘Grasser’) of popular Granada TV series Travelling Man from 28 November 1984.

When you visit, your own moment of Trident fame begins at our Trident exhibit ticket desk. Michael Tighe (right) and Alasdair May (left) are two of the volunteers who regularly support our Trident 3 cockpit experience. ‘As the Trident team,’ Michael explains, ‘we were able to reopen the cockpit experience before the neighbouring Vulcan’s because of the airliner’s roominess compared to the cramped V-bomber flight deck. Up to six visitors at a time take part in each tour. Our Jet Set Journey allows you to take a nostalgic journey and walk in the footsteps of the flight crew, business people, celebrities and holidaymakers who flew in G-AWZU during her service life.’

Each guided tour lasts around 30 minutes. Jet Age Museum visitors who opt for this experience enjoy a short video presentation while seated in the front cabin, followed by a flight deck visit. Because of the limited numbers that can simultaneously visit G-AWZU, admission is by ticket only. The free tickets are available from the Trident desk located in the museum’s main hall.

Trident questions and reminiscences encouraged

When it’s time for your tour, a trained volunteer will escort you out to G-AWZU, which is accessible via a short flight of steps. Naturally, questions and Trident reminiscences are always welcome. As are donations to help with Tina’s continuing restoration!’

Dave West again: ‘Our Trident cockpit includes most of the original instrumentation and other fittings. Some came with G-AWZU when we bought her. Other items have been painstakingly sourced during thousands of hours of restoration. However, we’re still on the lookout for some instruments – including two Smiths cockpit stopwatches…’

‘Other Trident bits are no longer available,’ Dave explains, ‘which presents a huge problem if they’re removed or damaged. In a couple of cases, 3D printing has enabled us to faithfully reproduce panel items. Others, such as G-AWZU’s cockpit panel fuses (shown above), are irreplaceable if lost or damaged. That’s why we have a strict no-touch rule for these!’

Your chance to go inside a Trident airliner

Jet Age Museum’s Rob Hepple is another enthusiastic volunteer who leads tours around the Trident’s cabin and cockpit. He says: ‘The Hawker Siddeley Trident cockpit exhibit is a consistently popular attraction at Staverton. Admirers range from excited toddlers who haven’t yet taken their first flight, to former pilots, such as Peter Lewis, who flew G-AWZU while she was in service and officially opened the exhibit.’

Sadly, others’ interest in the display goes too far and some items have proved irresistible to light-fingered visitors over the years. In particular, light-fingered visitors have taken several rare cabin safety cards from G-AWZU’s seatback pockets. It’s a sad reflection of the times we live in…’

Our Trident cockpit visit gets people thinking

If there’s one thing G-AWZU always manages to do, it’s to get visitors thinking about aviation past and present. For starters, visiting the Jet Age Trident soon shows that airliner cockpits aren’t as claustrophobic as many people imagine. Then there’s the frozen-in-time look of the 1970s-era cabin leaflets and in-flight magazines that contrast so remarkably with modern publications.

On the flight deck, visitors can see the Trident’s Para-Visual Display (PVD). This ingenious feature helped pilots keep G-AWZU centred on the runway after another blind landing in ICAO CAT III conditions. And, of course, the bright red ‘tiger’s tail’ stall recovery override lever on the port side of the central control pedestal.

It’s little details like these, the genuine DME torch and the authentic cockpit emergency axe, that make your Trident flight deck visit so unforgettable and deliver such a memorable trip down aviation’s memory lane.

Trident:’ the ultimate sports car’ of its time

Former pilots have described the Hawker Siddeley Trident as ‘the ultimate sports car of the time’. None of the jets remain in airline service, or even flying, which makes access to an authentic front cabin and cockpit even more appealing. Next add the unquestionable historical importance of the world’s first T-tail, rear-engine, three-engined airliner. And the avionics significance of the Smiths Industries Trident Autoland System so clearly signalled by yellow ‘Triplex Autoland Fitted’ tags on G-AWZU’s ram’s horn control yokes…

At risk of showing his age, the present author recalls flying in Tridents – maybe even G-AWZU herself – on BA shuttle flights between Belfast and LHR in the late 1970s. Maybe you too cherish memories of long-ago Trident flights? Or perhaps you’ve never flown, or only ever flown in the latest Airbus and Boeing airliners? Either way, we’re sure you’ll love visiting Tina in Gloucestershire, UK.

Come and meet our Trident team

Coming to the Jet Age Museum is the perfect opportunity to visit a Trident airliner. When you do, look forward to meeting Dave, Steve, Mick, Rob and their colleagues, and checking in at our Trident desk for your Jet Set Journey – Gloucestershire-style. Above all, please bring your questions and your personal memories of the revered Trident – and remember to buy a model of Trident before you leave!

And, of course, if you happen to have any unwanted Trident 3B instruments or other memorabilia lying around, Dave and the rest of the team would love to have a chat…

G-AWZU, the Jet Age Museum’s Trident exhibit and flight deck experience, is at Meteor Business Park, off Cheltenham Road East, on the north side of Gloucestershire Airport. Gloucestershire, UK. For details of opening times, please visit the Jet Age Museum home page.

New Exhibit Arrives

At last, after several false starts in the last 6 months or so, (and 2 hours late today!) the Hercules Propeller, donated by Dowty Propellers, has arrived and been sited outside the south east corner of the hangar, next to the Safran undercarriage display.
Many thanks go to John Benson for supervising the siting of the purpose built stand, on the newly prepared gravel area.
This propeller was designed and manufactured by Dowty Propellers for the Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules Aircraft.
Dowty Propellers’military heritage stretches back to 1937 and encompasses many iconic military aircraft as well as front-line airlifters of today.
The R 391 propeller first flew on the C-130J in 1996, and entered service with the RAF in 1999. Its six thin ‘scimitar’ blades are made ofcomposite materials, mainly carbon and glass fibres, with polyurethane foam filling.
It is still in production, with over 2000R 391 propeller systems made to date.
The C-130J is a major update of the C-130 Hercules. The Hercules family has the longest continuous production run of any military aircraft in history. During more than 60 years of service, it has participated in military, civilian,and humanitarian aid operations throughout the world.
As of 2018,over 400 aircraft have been delivered to 21 operators.  Along with the Rolls Royce AE2100 D3 engines, the R 391 provides the C-130J with performance increases of: 40% range, 21% speed, 21% shorter take-off distance, and lower noise levels.

Additional Exhibits

Additional Exhibits

Firestreak Missile - As used by the Javelin fighter aircraft, displayed on its handling trolley


Landing gear legs

Avro Shackleton and Vulcan main landing gear legs. Manufactured by Dowty Landing Gear.

Unibus Scooter

  Just after the First World War, the Gloucestershire Aircraft Company diversified into the production of a motor scooter, which was marketed under the name of Unibus. Built at the firm’s Sunningend Works in Cheltenham in the early 1920s, the machine was designed by Harold Boultbee, who was an aircraft designer. A fine job he made of it too. The machine was one of the best and most advanced designs of that era. The Unibus on display at the museum is in working order.

Airfield Fire Cart - probably manufactured before World War 2

Factory Clocking In Clock & Whistle

Gloster Aircraft Company wooden clock for staff clocking in and out at the factory, manufactured by Gledhill Brook, mechanism and case restored. Restored large steam factory whistle/hooter, sounded to mark the start and end of the day.

Pilot Display

Display of dummy pilot with uniform and ejection seat, and photos / short biographies of Gloster pilots in the background.

Airborne Forces Display

Gloucestershire played a major part in airborne operations in WW2.
Both RAF Down Ampney and RAF Fairford were embarkation airfields for the invasion of Europe.

Hispano Cannon

This Hispano 20mm aircraft cannon was recovered from Typhoon 1b JR516 aircraft which caught fire / crashed on the 5th August 1944 at Taynton / Tibberton, between Huntley and Newent in Gloucestershire. The HS.404 was an autocannon produced by Hispano-Suiza and derivates and was widely used as both an
aircraft and land based weapon in the 20th century by French, British, American and numerous other military services, particularlduring the World War 2.


This turboprop blade has a significant place in the history of the Jet Age. The world’s first turboprop aircraft was a modified Gloster Meteor used as a testbed for the Rolls-Royce Trent engine. With five-bladed propellers fitted to its two modified Derwent jet engineit pioneered the type of propulsion used by many short and medium range airliners today. Meteor I EE227 had seen RAF service before being transferred for the new engines to be installed. It first flew on
September 20, 1945, with Gloster’s chief test pilot Eric Greenwood at the controls.

Typhoon Restoration Team

Project Typhoon Restoration Team

It may surprise our visitors to see just how many people it takes to restore just ONE cockpit!

Here’s our team of dedicated volunteers who have helped us in the Typhoon restoration project alone.  Our thanks to each and every one for giving their time so generously.


Martin Clarke - Project Typhoon Team Leader

Martin started his working life as a DOWTY ROTOL apprentice, from 1965-1970, and became a skilled Fitter / Turner / Machinist within the DOWTY ROTOL Repair & Overhaul company.  In 1986 Martin transferred to DOWTY ROTOL Service Dept, within the company’s production facility, where he spent a large part of his working life travelling worldwide, troubleshooting and servicing the company’s products for airlines.

During the early ’90s, when the company was reorganised, Martin took on a role within DOWTY PROPELLERS as Technical Rep and vintage equipment specialist, until 2003 when redundancies were announced. Subsequently Martin went to Retro Track & Air, working on RR Merlin’s propeller governor units.

Finally, until his retirement, Martin worked at DELPHI Diesel Systems (automotive) at Stonehouse, within the development proving department, where he became a key member of the HGV fuel injection system ‘test rig design and build team’.
April 1964: Commenced at Skyfame Aircraft Museum, at age 15.
1976:          Advanced within the museum to become a member of the Shuttleworth ‘Gloster Gladiator G-AMRK’ airframe overhaul team.
1979:          Joined team for the disassembly of Shuttleworth Hawker Sea Hurricane Z-7015.
1980:          Joined the Cotswold Aircraft Restoration Group (CARG) at RAF Innsworth, where he became a member involved with the restoration, to airworthy condition, of a Miles Messenger G-AJOE.
1982:          Member of CARG restoration team for Meteor T7, VW453, which became the Gate Guard at RAF Innsworth. Martin and another Jet Age Museum member took the opportunity, when the MoD offered this aircraft for sale, to jointly purchase it for the museum, where it now stands today.

Finally to Gloucester Aviation Collection, ( now known as Jet Age Museum), taking on the role of Team Leader for the restoration of the Hawker Typhoon.

Ian Mowat, Planning & Budget- Project Typhoon

After graduating from Bath Technical College in 1962 Ian commenced his craft training at Bristol Aircraft Co Filton, working on various projects including Belfast Freighter, BAC 1-11, T188, and Bloodhound Missiles. A period of Army service in Royal Engineers followed, with postings in Germany and Far East aboard HMS Fearless, as a member of a Joint Services group, attached to Royal Marines.

In 1973 Ian returned to BAC (by then renamed British Aircraft Corporation) at the Concord Flight Test Centre, Fairford, until 1976 when the centre closed down. A short period at Danair (Lasham), working on B727 propulsion systems followed before commencing at DOWTY, initially in Dowty Electrics and subsequently in DOWTY ROTOL Development &Test.

In 1979 Ian transferred to DOWTY ROTOL Service Dept, spending the next 11 years on external postings, supporting ‘DOWTY’s’  Landing Gears / Propellers & Control Systems / Ram Air Turbines to: 
BAe Warton (6 years) on Jaguar / Tornado / Canberra / Jet Provost / Strikemaster.
SAAB Linkoping in Sweden on SF340 & Grippen.
Comair in Cincinnatti USA on SF340.
Aerospatiale Toulouse, France (3 years) on A300 / A310 / A320 / A321.  
Returning to Service Dept Gloucester in 1990, Ian took on a position of Service Liaison Manager (Airbus) then Deputy Technical Manager in the newly formed Customer Support Centre (Airlines) until 1996, when he returned to his original office location to support aircraft constructors.  Finally, Ian took on the role of Service Manager, supporting Regional and Military aircraft constructor customers, until his retirement in 2010.

After retiring in January 2010, and seeking a useful, interesting but less stressful way to spend his spare time, Ian contacted Martin Clarke (ex DOWTY Service Engineer) who suggested he join the Jet Age Museum Restoration Team, on Project Typhoon at the Brockworth workshop site. There followed 4 interesting years, initially with hands-on work helping to disassemble the Typhoon cockpit structure in cramped conditions and latterly, after the new Museum building at Staverton site had been completed and opened, leaving more available workshop space in Brockworth, assisting in building up the team and putting all the required practices and procedures in place, to produce the professional team and workshop we have today.

John Webb, Project Typhoon Team Member

John Webb’s father served in the RAF therefore John’s education was undertaken at the various Military postings which his father was given during his career. The last school John attended was in the UK at ‘Larkmead’ in Abbingdon. Following the completion of John’s education he moved to Germany with his parents, when his father was posted to RAF Bruggen, but returned to UK shortly after at the age of 18.

In 1972 John went to work at ‘Whitbreads Brewery’, where he was employed within the distillery until 1977 when he took up employment with ‘Monarch Aluminium’ in Cheltenham. Unfortunately John suffered from an industrial accident at ‘Monarch’ and was forced to take early retirement.


In 1992 John became aware of and joined the Gloucester Aviation Collection, which was then situated on the Gloster Aircraft Company site in Brockworth, and took part in the restoration of Vampire cockpit pods as a volunteer member.

During 1993 the John assisted in moving the collection to a new home, in Hangar 7 at Staverton Airport, although the hangar has since been demolished and the site is now occupied by Staverton Building Supplies. 

Unfortunately in 2002 the tenancy of Hangar 7 was came to a close and John, together with the other volunteer members, moved out of Hangar 7 with the collection to various temporary sites until the current ‘barn’ workshop became available in Brockworth. This workshop was cramped and not particularly comfortable due to it’s agricultural standard. There was (and still is) no heating, and luxury during the cold winters was a hot kettle. Notwithstanding the discomfort John, who by had then joined the Typhoon restoration team, remained resolute and continued to help restore the cockpit structure, albeit at an enforced slow pace due to the reduced size of working area available to the project (12′ X 12′).

When the new Museum opened in 2013 John remained in the workshop supporting the Typhoon team, where he remains today.

Dave Mace, Project Typhoon Team Member

David joined Smiths Industries in 1968 and commenced his Aerospace career as an instrument assembler, before moving on to become a wireman. This new role involved building cable harnesses for a wide range of aircraft and led into building wiring harnesses for the Hawker Siddeley 121 ‘Trident’ Autoland System main junction boxes.

David then took a career change and transferred into the Flight Control Systems department as an inspector. His responsibilities were varied and covered:

1974. -SEP6 Flight Control System analogue computers.

  • HS 121 Trident Triplex Autoland System main junction boxes
  • Shorts SC.3 Belfast Triplex Autoland System main junction boxes
  • Buccaneer low level strike aircraft equipment.
  • Exocet MM40 ship-borne missile, ECU and SNIAS Delayed firing unit
  • SEPECAT Jaguar Roll and Autostabiliser computers.
  • 1982. -Boeing 737 Autothrottle computers.
  • 1983. -Boeing 737 Autothrottle and BAe146 Autopilot computers
  • 1995. -Boeing 777 ELMS (Electronic Load Management System) Power Panels
  • Boeing 777 ELMS units for Power Management Panels.
  • 2007. -Boeing 777 ELMS2 system Power Panels.
  • Boeing Apache AH64D Power and Load Management system.

During 2013 David retired after having spent a very impressive 45 years within the electronics industry.


David joined the Cotswold Aircraft Restoration Group (CARG) in 1986, which were using the facilities of RAF Innsworth, and was initially involved with the restoration of a Miles Messenger (G-AJOE) to an airworthy condition. He then assisted in restoring a Tiger Moth (G-MAZY), which is now on static display at Newark Air Museum, before helping to restore Gloster Meteor T7 (VW453) which became gate guard at RAF Innsworth until its acquisition by 2 members of Jet Age Museum where it now resides as part of the museum’s  collection.

Taking on the role of disposals officer, and restoration / placement of rare instrumentation in 1987, David was involved in placing various equipment to organisations both in UK and overseas.

A momentous achievement for David was his involvement in the team which rebuilt a Boulton Paul Type C. Mk11 Mid-upper gun turret, from two turrets recovered in Australia. This completed turret now forms its part in the display of a  Lockheed Hudson 111A, (A16-199) at RAF Museum Hendon.

Having now become a member of the Jet Age Museum, and recognising David’s past experience with instrumentation and components, he was in 2013 invited to become a member of the Project Typhoon restoration team. His time in the Team has been put to good use and many of the cockpit mounted items have now been restored.

Steve Williams, Team Member, Project Typhoon

Steve comes from an aircraft background, his father worked for H.H. Martyn before joining the RAF Volunteer Reserve at the outbreak of WW2, where he was mainly involved in preparing Horsas for operations. At war’s end he left the RAF and started work at Gloster Aircraft Company, as the Spray Shop Manager.

In 1964 Steve joined S. Smiths and Sons as an Electronic Apprentice, spending the first year in The Training Centre Machine shop and Fitting Shop. The remaining years of his  5 Year Apprenticeship was spent working in the ‘Trident Autoland Lab.’, the ‘Instrumentation Lab.’, the ‘Military Systems Lab.’, the ‘Test Equipment Lab.’, and lastly in the ‘Research Lab.’ where, after completing his Apprenticeship, he became an Assistant Engineer.

Subsequent Design Engineering Projects Steve worked on were Jaguar Autostabiliser Unit, Part of a Team developing a four chip digital computer for use in Aerospace Industry (TIMOS), Tornado Missile Management System, EAP/EFA/Typhoon Data Management System, Longbow Apache Data Management System and Boeing 777 Electrical Load Management System.

With the knowledge and experience of those projects behind him Steve was then selected to work on the Lean Engineering Development and Teambuilding Project, which included representing Smiths on the SBAC Study, at Warwick University.

Moving on through the company Steve Headed a team to develop and manage closer links between Design Engineering and Manufacturing. The role as Manager of the department addressed a ‘Product Configuration Control Group’ which comprised BOM creation and upkeep, Drawing Office, Print Room, Tech Pubs and Manufacturing Engineering. 

Part of this operation was to convert all existing hard copy drawings to electronic documents and introduce Drawing Cad systems. 

Steve finished his career in the role of Change Management Organisation Manager and, upon his retirement from Smiths in 2004, after 39 interesting years, he became involved with the following activities:

1. Studied  photography for two years at Gloscat.
2. Carried out voluntary work at Sue Ryder, Leckhampton.
3. Carried out voluntary work at the Manor Centre, Barnwood.

1. Keen photographer of any subject, except weddings!
2. Season Ticket holder at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
3. Fan of Motorcycle Grand Prix.
4. Long term member of the Severn Valley Railway.

Joining the Jet Age Museum is Steve’s first involvement in Aircraft Restoration, although experience of being a keen motorcycle restorer has left him in good stead!

Steve Poole, Team Member - Project Typhoon

Steve works in IT as a computer analyst programmer but comes from an aviation industry background. Numerous members of his family worked at ‘Dowty’ for many years before Steve himself spent 15 years there between 1985 & 2000, the last 9 of which were with DOWTY PROPELLERS. 

Steve has been an aviation enthusiast since the age of 12 with a keen interest in aviation photography. He joined the Gloucestershire Aviation Collection friends organisation in the 1980s and became a life member of the Jet Age Museum in 2001. Steve has a history of doing voluntary work for aviation related causes including working at the Royal International Air Tattoo and Kemble air shows. 

When the Museum’s tenancy of Hangar 7 came to an end in 2001 Steve volunteered to help out in any way he could and was assigned to work with Martin Clarke on the Typhoon. By this time the project was housed at RAF Innsworth under the wing of the Cotswold Aircraft Restoration Group, and so Steve became an associate member of that organisation. Having not been involved in aircraft restoration before this, Steve described himself as Martin’s apprentice!  Steve has been working on the project ever since, concentrating mainly on restoring the cockpit’s tubular structure.

John Entwistle, Team Member - Project Typhoon

John is an RAF apprentice trained aircraft maintenance engineer, with a services career covering fast jet, transport and rotary wing aircraft maintenance of structures and systems.

During John’s RAF career he was involved in managing a team of maintenance engineers for the Queens Flight aircraft where, for his services, John was awarded the Royal Victorian Medal (Silver) for Services to the Royal Family.  

Following a comprehensive career in the RAF John’s civilian career followed in;  NHS GLOUCESTERSHIRE, Senior Contracts Manager responsible for contracts with NHS and Commercial sector providers, then Contracts Manager Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation Trust covering all Gloucestershire NHS Estates and Properties.  
AIRBUS UK (FILTON), managing ‘Aircraft Operability’ Engineers covering maintenance, maintenance economics, support functions for wing structures, installed systems, landing gears and airport operations.
MESSIER BUGATTI DOWTY, Product Support Engineer responsible for the progression of Airbus, Regional and Military Aircraft Landing Gear technical queries and processing ‘on wing’ repair schemes for landing gears, then Customer Support Manager responsible for measuring the technical, commercial and support functions satisfaction of airline customers.

John’s spare time interests also included historical aircraft and, when he learned of the Jet Age Museum and it’s proximity to his current place of work, he became a volunteer member then applied to become a member of the restoration team. A place was available to John on the Project Typhoon team, where he currently assists in restoration and assembly of the cockpit structure.

John is a keen Squash player, he plays golf and also spends time fund-raising for the British Heart Foundation charity.

For those who are not familiar with the ‘Smiths’ history.

In 1851 Samuel Smith set up a watchmakers shop in London and one day realised that making watches and clocks was very similar work to producing basic motor instruments such as what he called speed indicators. From there, the natural progression took place and the first Smiths aircraft instrument ( rpm indicator) was fitted to a Blackburn monoplane in 1911. The avionic division moved to Cheltenham in 1939, and the rest is history. During my time there its name changed from S. Smith and Sons to Smiths Industries, Smiths Aerospace, and just ‘Smiths’. (Steve left just before it was taken over by GE.)

Trevor Davies, Sponsorship Co-Ordinator - Project Typhoon

I have charted a career in the government print industry in various depts including  GCHQ, Science & Engineering Research Council, Health & Safety Executive, British Energy , RAF Innsworth & RAF High Wycombe, spanning a total of 44 years which came to an end in 2012 . Looking for something to do, and with a motorcycle interest (I ride a Royal Enfield Bullet) when the weather permits, I was asked to research and possibly find for the Meteor Business park based Jet Age Museum’s newly formed display hall, the Unibus scooter manufactured by Gloucestershire Aircraft Company in 1920. After fulfilling this request and a fully restored Unibus was eventually ridden in by Mike Webster, the machines owner, in 2014, I thought job done and my time with Jet Age had reached an end.

Little did I know that various roles, including the initial volunteer coordinator sponsorship contact for the Horsa cockpit project and being duty manager at the Jet Age Museum would prevent me from escaping. I thought I had found the escape tunnel, but when events and education visits needed kick starting so again my avenue for escape was blocked. Seriously, the education programme is very rewarding as we inspire the next generation of  aviation enthusiasts. School visits are run through the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) -process with a strict adherence to the National school’s curriculum.

Later, when the Typhoon project was revived after many years of  dedicated effort by Martin Clarke and Steve Poole, I was asked to seek out commercial sponsorship to enable our WW11 Typhoon cockpit to come alive  after being discovered years earlier in a scrap yard in Chippenham. People say I can sell coals to Newcastle! well perhaps that is true. I am passionate about finding funds to help the Museum’s Brockworth based restoration team, and to tell the people story surrounding the Gloster connection with this iconic aircraft. If you win the lottery, or would like to help financially in a smaller way, I would be delighted to hear from you via the contact details at the head of the Typhoon project page.

Hawker Typhoon Cockpit/Fuselage

Hawker Typhoon Cockpit/Fuselage

All of the 3,300 Hawker Typhoon World War 2 production fighter bomber aircraft were built at the Gloster Aircraft Company at Brockworth near Gloucester for the Royal Air Force.

To have a cockpit/fuselage on display is therefore an important exhibit for Jet Age Museum.

Hawker Typhoon Acquisition

This project commenced during 1998, when an almost complete Hawker Typhoon cockpit section was identified at Taylors scrap yard, near Chippenham in Wiltshire. 

This find became quite important, as it was from a very early Mark 1a or 1b ‘car door’ type Typhoon. 

Unfortunately, when the cockpit was later collected at the scrap yard, parts had been removed, such as the side cowlings,  and the control column had  been sawn through just below the spade grip pivot joint. 

Additionally, an excavation was organised by Ron Murphy at a quarry near the former Royal Air Force Red Arrows base at Kemble in Gloucestershire, where state of the art ground penetrating radar equipment was employed to search the area.  Here,  dismembered sections of airframe from about 20 forward fuselages of Typhoons were exhumed, many of these parts were remarkably corrosion free and a few items were obtained for our project. 

Other items have since been obtained such as landing gear struts, instruments, tyres and wheels, parts for the windscreen and car door assemblies, and many other items in various condition. 

Regrettably it is not possible to find the original serial number for this airframe, as the nameplate was missing, therefore the project may be of a fictitious serial number, or of an aircraft having a known historic background.  

The Restoration project was allocated to a museum life member, Martin Clarke, who was authorised by the museum committee to name the aircraft after his late wife, Michele, who had also been a life member of the museum. 

During the years since acquisition, until the construction and opening of Jet Age Museum exhibit hall on Staverton Airport, the project had been mainly on-hold due to lack of space in our Brockworth workshop , shortage of facilities and funding. However, since the Museum opening, and with new found space, the Restoration Team numbers have been increased with additional members, and we have created a suitable work area in which to carry out the complete restoration.

The Typhoon Restoration Gallery

Current Restoration Status

Cockpit with flying control module and pilot seat fitted, displayed ready for 5th May 2016 Gloster Aircraft Company re-union day in Jet Age Museum

Never one to miss an opportunity, and with the pilot’s seat installed for the first time,  restoration team member John Entwistle jumps in for a quick spin. He reports “a good flight and mission accomplished….although my arms are now tired from all the flapping”.

The build of cockpit structure is now complete to the planned Phase 1 stage and we are now looking at preparation for painting. Because there are numerous stainless steel plate-brackets, and these are to remain visible, a great deal of very accurate ‘masking’ needs to be carried out.

Our build stand has been modified to provide better access for the Phase 2 tasks of fitting out and also improve the transportation tasks of moving from workshop to Museum display Hall for event days.

The pilots fore and aft Armour Plates are now under restoration but will not be fitted until after the cockpit repaint. 

In addition the firewall fabrication is now in preparation, the original being so badly damaged it is not considered repairable therefore it is being used as a template for a new build with thermalite, in lieu of original asbestos material, sandwiched between 2 sheets of aluminium alloy.

Our workforce, which has progressed in developing sheet-metal working skills, now has an increased ability to carry out airframe ‘skin’ fabrication and repairs therefore a decision has been taken to recall our elevator from our Preston Lancs member Geoff Ainsworth, and to put those skills into practice. Details and timings of work are yet to be decided but a photo-diary will be kept and added to this web page when available.

MLGs are nearing completion following their restoration at Messier Bugatti Dowty’s Repair & Overhaul facility. One MLG is completely rebuilt and the other is in final preparation for assembly.

A recent problematic issue with removal of old and corroded Bowden cable, from aft control cable end nipples, was resolved when a local Gloucester engineering company ‘Excel Precision’ stepped in to apply their specialist knowledge and skills. Needless to say that the problem is now behind us and we thank Excel Precision for their valued help in our time of need.

Special Thanks to our Sponsors

We could not complete our important restoration work without the support of our generous sponsors.

We want to extend our special thanks to the following, whose help with this project has been invaluable:

  • Excel Precision, for engineering support.
  • Mr Tim House, for his loan of a Typhoon cannon.
  • Cotswold Aircraft Restoration Group, for their cash donation.
  • Mr Tim Wiltshire, for his continuous help in provision of workshop premises.
  • RGV Aviation, Staverton Airport, for their financial support and offer of future technical and material support.
  • Huntley Estates, For their interest and kind donation.
  • Poeton Industries Ltd of Gloucester, for their financial support and offer of future material support.
  • Churchdown Parish Council for their advice and kind donation.
  • Retro Track & Air, of Cam. for their material and technical support.
  • Messier -Bugatti- Dowty (MRO). Specialists in repair and overhaul of in-service Landing Gears, for their material support.
  • Burlow Engineering Ltd, Specialists in Toolmaking, small batch, prototype and R & D work, who have offered to assist in manufacture of non-procurable components.
  • D.R.Sherratt, For his kind donation.
  • Mr Derek Wellard, For his kind donation.
  • Mr Eldridge, For his kind donation.

Questions, information and contributions

If you wish to contact us about the Typhoon project, please get in touch by using our e-mail address.

Horsa Cockpit Restoration

Horsa Cockpit

Remembering Operation Varsity

24th March 1945 saw the beginning of Operation Varsity, the last and largest airborne operation of WWII. Some 440 British gliders where towed to Germany and released near Hamminkeln close to the river Rhine. 

After the loss of so many army glider pilots during Operation Market, RAF reserve pilots were given the opportunity to volunteer to transfer to gliders and two of our museum volunteers, Ken Plowman and Leslie Kershaw, where among them. 
In 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of their operation, the Jet Age Museum held a small commemorative event and offered Ken and Les the opportunity to sit in our Horsa cockpit, the first time they’d climbed aboard the type since 1945. They didn’t need to be asked twice and were soon working through their old cockpit drills together.
An additional surprise came after a lot of research by Jed of the Horsa Project team. Digging in various archives he located some original operational documents and among then was the after action report for D Squadron and glider 432. There on the top was Ken’s name along with S/Sgt. Ryans, his co-pilot and details of the load, route and comments from the tug crew.
Sadly no such documents existed for Leslie’s flight, but Jed had found some archive film footage in an Australian archive which showed the gliders of his unit, A Squadron, preparing to depart from RAF Rivenhall and Leslie’s co-pilot was identified in the film.
In all it was a fantastic day not only to remember those that risked and lost their lives flying on this operation but to remind us why building the Horsa cockpit stands as a tribute to their bravery.

Horsa Restoration News

First of all, apologies for the lack of recent updates on the project, however we can assure that that work has been progressing, albeit a little more slowly due to other commitments.
The largest structural addition to the cockpit has be the installation of the cockpit floor. Made of only 1/8” thick plywood, fixing in this place helped bond the cockpit structure in the horizontal axis and added a great deal of strength overall. So far it’s managed to support the weight of two original crew members without any issues at all.
Most effort has been spent working on the area beneath the cockpit floor and fabricating the metal components that interlink the pilot’s controls to the flight surfaces.  These components were a “blocker” in that we could not add more to the exterior surface until this was done as access afterwards would be difficult. Unfortunately without any manufacturer drawings there was a long process of reverse engineering involved to derive dimensions, pattern making and fabrication.
However we’re happy to report this has now been completed the parts are now fitted and bolted in. This will enable us to hopefully soon start installing the pilots control columns and wheels more permanently.
The project also gained some additional features, namely a set of pilot control wheels, accurately re-created in wood from an Airspeed drawing using similar wartime methods. We hope soon to fabricate the hubs these mounted to so that we can fix them into the cockpit.
The biggest challenge to date has been creating the formers and stringers which make up the framework that defines the shape of the lower half of the cockpit. This required a lot of lofting calculations to produce ribs that would allow the cockpit lines to flow correctly. Although we are using a CAD system, there is still a great deal of craftsmanship and feel needed to get the lines right.  At present these have been dry fitted to the cockpit while we make final adjustments before permanent fixing.
Finally, there have also been numerous small additions along the way. The cockpit seats now have their backs fitted – and very comfortable they are too! We’ve also manufactured and installed the brake lever as well as the linkage assembly for the rudder controls.
If all goes to plan, we hope to be finished with the lower half of the cockpit in the coming months and can start to focus on the upper section and cockpit framing.
Cockpit progress at the end of 2015 included almost complete pilot controls and the addition of the support ribs.


A multitude of metal components have been reverse engineered and fitted including control column fittings and wheel brake controls.

Pilot control linkages are now complete and fitted in place under the cockpit.

Horsa - can YOU help?

Of course, when it comes to restoring historic aircraft, the parts can sometimes be hard to locate.

Days like the Varsity Celebrations of course inspire us, and remind us why our restoration work is so important.

There are two components that are needed for our cockpit that we’ve thus far been unable to locate.  

We’d like to either obtain originals for fitting or loan so that we can make pattern parts replicas. 

The parts are:

  • 10D/8907 T.R.9.D Controller, Remote Type C.2.
  • 5J/2284 – Accumulator 12v, 40ah (Battery)

If you can help the project with either of the above, please get in touch.

Special Thanks

Our restoration work is only possible thanks to our kind sponsors and volunteers.

We have some special thank yous for their support on this restoration project:

Firstly, thank you to the Gloucestershire Environmental Trust, which encouraged our grant application.

We also offer sincere thanks  to the following project partners for their pledges of support:

  • Paul Webb Woodturner & Furniture maker
  • K M Reprographics
  • Timbmet
  • TBS Engineering Ltd
  • VMCC Anglo Dutch Trial
  • Haidon Horticultural Engineers
  • Haden Browne Plastics
  • AVM Transport Ltd
  • Gloucestershire Airport
  • Renart
  • Airfix
  • BAe Systems
  • Wellington Park Properties Ltd
  • The Flying Shack Staverton
  • Elliott Bros(Chelt) Ltd
  • Mike Lillistone
  • Ken Plowman
  • Savidge & Son
  • The RAF Down Ampney Association

Questions, Information and Contributions

If you wish to contact us about the Horsa project, please get in touch using our website contact form or the Museum’s e-mail address.

Russell Adams

Russell Adams - a legend in Aircraft Photography

Born in Plymouth on 24 August 1912 Russell William Henry Adams became a pioneer of jet aerobatic photography and will be long remembered for his expertise in this field. From his first sortie in January 1949 to his last in flight in 1980 he had flown in 54 types of aircraft.

Unable to achieve his ambition to be a pilot due to defective eye sight he served all of Britain during the war as an examiner of scientific and electrical instruments. He said he would be remembered at the bases he visited as the person ‘always looking skyward at aircraft and wishing he could be there.’

During the war he also joined the Home Guard as a gunner rising in rank to 2nd Lieutenant, being granted an honorary rank of Lieutenant at the end of the war. 

He joined Gloster Aircraft Company in February 1946 as an electrical engineer and in 1949 he was given the opportunity to form a photographic section to assist with research and development. As a result he became the first person to take air to air photographs of jet aircraft performing aerobatics.

In May 1949 he recorded the deformation of the skin on a Meteor that lead to improvements and contributed to the fighter becoming an international success.  His photographs become world renowned, appeared in hundreds of publications and he was regarded as the worlds leading aerobatic photographer.

 We are proud to have some of Russell Adam’s Memorabilia on display at the Jet Age Museum, including his much-loved camera.

Russell Adams' Camera, Flying Helmet, Goggles, Suit and Photographs

The Museum is incredibly proud to be able to pay tribute to this ground-breaking photographer by having these items on display.

Russell Adams Camera

Russell Adams Flying Helmet and Goggles

Russell Adams Flying Suit

Russell Adams Photographs

Russell Adams - his Story

Russell Adams’ full story is told in the lavishly illustrated Jet Age Photographer by Tim Kershaw, is published by Sutton Publishing in association with Jet Age Museum

This is a large format hardcover 198 page publication, with Foreword by Neville Duke, records in his own words and with the aid of his log books, Adams’ flying experiences. It includes brief details on Gloster test Pilots who flew Adams on his air to air sorties.