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Flying visit by Secretary of State for Defence

A last minute phone call to the Vice-Chair of Laverstock & Ford Parish Council Cllr Laura Jones, saw some hasty preparations to host a brief visit from Grant Shapps, who has been in post as Secretary of State for Defense since Aug 2023, at the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection on April 10th 2024.

Published: 18 April 2024

Grant Shapps holds a pilot licence, and this may well have been a driver of his interest in the historic Military Collection which was formally accredited Museum Status by Arts Council England in 2023. Parish Councillors were able to show-off how proud they are of the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection and the work the team do, led by Directors David Berryman and Squadron Leader John Sharpe, to showcase local Aviation History and in particular, the important role Old Sarum played in both wars.

This flying visit by the Secretary of State for Defence, was a testament to the team at BDAC and the attraction of its beautifully restored aviation items forming both the collection and its archives.

On the night of the visit, Cllr Lainey Barker welcomed Invited guests including Philip Wilkinson, the Wiltshire Police and Crime commisioner, John Glen MP for Wiltshire and Wiltshire Councillor Richard Rogers, and before the tour of the BDAC began some searching questions were asked about the state of military housing, our realistic defence capabilities, and a poignant question was posed by a member of the British Maritime Foundation in the form of a plea to rescue the Ships anchor of the RN HMS Prince of Wales, which was confiscated by Malaysian Police from scavengers, and to see it brought home.

Mr Shapps was probably relieved to get on with the tour, but his passion for planes was evident as he sat in the cockpit of Ex-ETPS Hawk (XX154 the Military jet prototype of the very first Hawk) and did, what every visitor to the Collection is able to do – press the buttons! Ron Fulton, Technical Director, and the team were very happy to explain the ins and outs of this aviation beauty, and it was with some reluctance Mr Shapps was eventually given the nod by his team that it was time to go and prep for his visit to DSTL the next day.

You don’t have to be a government minster to visit the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection, it is open 6 days a week, Tuesday through Sundays from 10:00 till 16:00

The Boscombe Down Aviation Collection is located in

Hangar 1 South, Old Sarum Airfield, Old Sarum, Salisbury, Wilts SP4 6DZ


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