Royal Air Force Museum London with Kids

Royal Air Force Museum London with Kids

Discover the history of aviation and explore the story of the Royal Air Force at the free RAF Museum in Hendon, North London. In this London with Kids guide, learn more about the things to see and do when visiting the Royal Air Force Museum London with kids.

Royal Air Force Museum London with Kids

One of the best aviation museums in the UK, the Royal Air Force Museum offers plenty to see and do for a family day out. RAF Museum London regularly runs pre-school sessions, Little Swifts, along with family activities and events during half term and school holidays.

Miniature RAF Sea King for young children

Related: February Half Term Kids Activities in London

Top things to do at the Royal Air Force Museum London with kids include hands-on exhibits and digital experiences, seeing inside the iconic Sunderland flying boat, flight simulators and the opportunity to sit in a Spitfire (extra cost).

Visiting Royal Force Museum London with Kids

The Royal Force Museum London also has family trails and activities available at the entrance to each hangar. Free family activity backpacks, created for children aged 3 to 8 years old, are available to borrow from admissions in Hangar 1. Find out more about the free available resources at RAF Museum London Families.

Royal Air Force Museum London Map

There are six hangars at the RAF Museum to explore, full of aircraft and vehicles from the First World War to modern day.

Royal Air Force Museum London Map

Map: Courtesy of the Royal Air Force Museum. Click the map for larger image.

In this post, I will list the hangars and facilities as you will see them following the typical museum route. The route starts at Hangar 1 and goes around the open green space in an anti-clockwise direction to Hangar 2, the Outdoor Playground and Hendon Kitchen, Hangar 6 and finally, Hangars 3, 4 and 5.

Read on for more information to help plan your family day out to RAF Museum London.

Hangar 1

The first hangar is also the museum entrance and exit, and where the RAF Museum Shop and Café are located. Hangar 1 is where you will learn more about the story behind the Royal Air Force and its people, explore how RAF stays on the leading edge of air and space power and have the chance to walk inside the iconic Sunderland flying boat.

Royal Air Force Stories

Right at the entrance of Hangar 1 is an introductory exhibition, RAF Stories. Discover how the Royal Air Force has delivered missions in its first 100 years from its formation in 1918 as the world’s first independent air force.

Royal Air Force Museum London Exhibition

Stories, objects, film and games reveal its extraordinary people, innovative technologies, global alliances and partnerships.

“The Royal Air Force’s story is woven into the history of the United Kingdom, from its formation during the First World War to the vital role it performs today as the nation’s first line of defence.”

RAF Museum London with Kids

Explore hundreds of new objects in the RAF Stories exhibition, including log books, hidden maps, ejector seats, survival rations and mascots alongside aircraft, vehicles and boats from the RAF’s first century.

Things to do at Royal Air Force Museum with Kids

Hands-on exhibits in Hangar 1 include RAF uniforms to try on, tactile models of aircraft and sensory displays of iconic RAF smells and sounds. There are also opportunities to test your reaction timing and multi-tasking skills, as well as to work together on an engineering challenge.

Hands on exhibits at British Air Force Museum London

Highlights at Hangar 1 include the opportunity to look inside some of the Royal Air Force aircraft, such as the Sea King rescue helicopter.

Look inside RAF rescue helicoptor

Little ones (under 5s) will enjoy exploring the miniature versions of the DH9A, Spitfire, Gnat and Sea King around the RAF Stories exhibition.

Royal Air Force Museum London

Related: London Museums for Kids

The Fix a Sea King interactive board is also a fun experience for toddlers and preschoolers to get hands on with refueling, fixing bolts and turning propellors.

Toddler Activities at RAF Museum London

Other hands-on opportunities within Hangar 1 include taking a pilot’s seat in their Simulator Zone (£6 cost) and exploring Sir Frank Whittle’s innovative Power Jets engine on an interactive screen.

Pilot Simulator Zone Royal Air Force Museum with Kids

RAF – First to the Future

The next section of Hangar 1, the First to the Future exhibition, explores the stories of the people, equipment, partnerships and innovations that keep the Royal Air Force at the leading edge of air and space power.

RAF First to the Future Digital Experience

This is a great area for older children to get hands-on through digital experiences. Discover how to locate and collect assigned items as an RAF intelligence analyst or learn how to defend your infomration from cyber hackers.

Digital Experiences for children at RAF London

In the Design in Action interactive experience, visitors choose their mission, design an aircraft on a digital drawing and then test the design on screen.

Things for older children to do at RAF Museum London

Sunderland Hall

The last section of Hangar 1, just before the exit and across from the café and museum shop, is Sunderland Hall. A Short Sunderland flying boat is on display and now accessible to the public.

Sunderland Flying Boat Royal Air Force Museum London

The Short Sunderland flying boats were famous U-boat hunters that first entered service in 1938 and were capable of patrolling the sea lanes for up to 13 hours. The Sunderland remained in front line service for over 20 years and was the last flying boat operated by the Royal Air Force.

Look inside Sunderland Aircraft RAF London

Sunderland Café

The Sunderland Café is located directly opposite the Sunderland Flying Boat next to the RAF Museum Shop. Open weekends and holidays only, the Sunderland Café serves light snacks and hot and cold drinks.

Hangar 2

Exit Hanger 1 and turn right to continue the museum route to Hangar 2, previously the Grahame-White Factory. Discover the history of aviation in the First World War in the Air exhibition, through four years of WWI to the formation of the Royal Air Force in 1918.

The First World War in the Air (1914 – 1918)

The First World War exhibition explores the vital work of the service men and women on the ground, as well as the changing roles of those in the air.

Aviation Museum in London

There are several fascinating aircraft to see in Hangar 2, including pre-WWI aircraft such as Bleriot XXVII monoplane (1911), the classic Avro 504 (1913) and a Bristol F.2b fighter (1916).

First World War aircraft RAF Hendon Museum

The finest collection of WWI aircraft are on display alongside personal artefacts, such as medals, letters and uniforms.

British Air Force Museum London

Key exhibits on display include a propeller from a Bleriot XI Cross Channel Monoplane, a royal flying corps dog jacket and the sketch and notes of the Mons Battlefield.

First World War Aircraft RAF London

When you exit Hangar 2, the next area is where you will find the fantastic outdoor playground, the Hendon Kitchen restaurant and several picnic tables.

Outdoor Museum Playground

The Royal Air Force Museum has one of the best free museum playgrounds in London. Designed for children under 11 years old, the outdoor playground and surrounding picnic area is a great place for young aviators to take a break while exploring the museum.

Royal Air Force Museum London Playground

The RAF Museum playground has mini-models of iconic aircraft, including the Vickers Vimy, Spitfire and Sea King helicopter, each with additional fun elements like slides, climbing nets and slide poles.

Childrens Playground RAF Museum London

There is also a mini version of the historic Grahame-White building, with a watchtower that has 3 floors of tube netting for children to climb up.

Childrens playhouse at RAF Hendon Museum

Specially created for toddlers, the playground features a tug vehicle and trailer with double steering wheel and ramp trailer.

Things to do at Royal Air Force Museum with Toddlers

It’s a great outdoor space, with plenty to keep little ones busy and fire their imaginations.

Hendon Kitchen

The RAF Museum canteen-style café, Hendon Kitchen, is located near the outdoor playground and toilets. Hendon Kitchen is counter service and serves light snacks, sandwiches and salad, hot meals and cakes.

Lunch options include pizza, roasted half chicken, burgers and fish & chips. Kids meal options include half margherita pizza, chicken nuggets and chips and macaroni cheese. View the latest Hendon Kitchen menu.

Hendon Kitchen is open from 10am to 5pm (takeaway service only from 4:30pm to 5pm). During weekends and holidays, Hendon Kitchen is open from 11am to 4pm (takeaway service only from 3:30pm to 4pm).

Hangar 6

The RAF in an Age of Uncertainty

Hangar 6 is located between the Hendon Kitchen and Hangars 3, 4 and 5 and features the most recent Royal Air Force jets.

RAF Museum Hangar 6

In this new hangar, you will learn how the RAF has adapted its strategy and technology in recent decades, through rapid political, economic and technology change, to protect the UK 24/7.

RAF Blackburn Buccaneer Cockpit

Highlights to see in Hangar 6 include looking inside the Blackburn Buccaneer, a 1950s design jet bomber. The Buccaneer was originally used by the Royal Navy and had folding wings so that it would take up less room on an aircraft carrier.

Hangars 3, 4 and 5

Opposite to Hangar 1, Hangars 3, 4, and 5 are effectively one big hangar and house the core of the RAF Museum’s collection. Most of the aircraft in these hangars are inter-war and World War II era.

War in the Air Hangars Royal Air Force Museum London

In addition to the impressive collection of aircraft, there are several experiences (at extra charge) within Hangar 3, 4 and 5. Top things to do are the Spitfire Experience, the Typhoon Flight Simulator and The Red Arrows 4D experience.

Visiting the Royal Air Force Museum with kids

War in the Air (1918 – 1980)

Discover the aircraft and stories of the Battle of Britain alongside extraordinary bombers, seaplanes, trainers and helicopters in Hangars 3, 4 and 5.

The Battle of Britain in 1940, when the German Luftwaffe was repelled, demonstrated the important role of fighter pilots and the many who support them on the ground.

In Hangar 3, discover the “Fighter Four” that all took part in the Battle of Britain: a Battle of Britain Supermarine Spitfire Mk 1A, Hawker Hurricane Mk1, Messerschmitt Bf109E-4/B ‘Emil’ and the Fiat CR42 Falco (Falcon0.

Royal Air Force Museum London with Kids

Highlights in Hangars 3 and 4 include Curtiss Kittyhawk IV, the Bristol Beaufort torpedo bomber, the Slingsby Type 38 Grasshopper and the P47 Thunderbolt.

Bristol Beaufort VIII Torpedo Bomber Royal Air Force Museum London

There is so much to see within Hangars 3, 4 and 5, and opportunities to take a closer look at the cockpit of several aircraft, including the Phantom FGR2.

Look inside Aircraft cockpit RAF London Museum

Explore a range of helicopters, from early auto-giros to the modern ones we recognise today, in Hangar 4. One of the highlights to look out for in this section is the Westland Belvedere HC Mk 1 H4, which was the Royal Air Force’s first twin-engine, twin rotor helicopter.

Helicopters RAF London with kids

For nearly 30 years, two specially modified Westland Wessex helicopters (designated HCC4) transported members of the Royal Family and other dignitaries on public duties across the UK and Europe. A Westland Wessex HCC4 is on display in this part of the Royal Air Force Museum.

Westland Wessex Helicopter Royal Air Force Hendon

The Westland Wessex HCC4 was built to the original military HC2 standard, but with the main cabin having a VIP interior finish, furnishings and sound proofing, along with an external folding step below the cabin door.

Also on display in Hangar 4 is the Supermarine Stranraer, one of the world’s last biplane flying boats.

Hendon British Royal Air Force Museum

One of the highlights to see in Hangar 5 is the Avro Lancaster, the main heavy bomber used by Bomber Command in the last three years of the Second World War.

Avro Lancaster Royal Air Force Museum London

Another highlight to see in Hangar 5 is the Avro Vulcan B2, the second of the Royal Air Force’s V bombers, which was in operation from 1960 to 1984 and had a 34m (111ft) wingspan and 32m (105ft) length.

Summer Holidays Royal Air Force Museum London

To explore the latest inventory list and where to find the aircraft on display, visit the Royal Air Force Museum Collections website.

Spitfire Experience

Located in Hangar 3, the Spitfire Experience is the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of a Spitfire. The experience costs £25 per person (for 10 minutes) and the recommended minimum age is 8 years old.

All children under 12 years old are to be assisted and supervised by their guardian for the duration of the experience. Click for more details and how to book tickets for the Spitfire Experience at RAF London.

4D Theatre

The 4D Theatre is also located in Hangar 3. Cutting-edge 3D animation is combined with dynamic seating and special environment effects to transport you directly into the middle of the action.

4D experiences cost £5 per person and include The Red Arrows, B-17: The Mission, Ravine Race and Santa’s Sleigh Ride (available 1 November – 6 January). Family tickets cost £16 for four people to ride together. Recommended for ages 4+. More details and book tickets at the RAF Museum London

Typhoon Flight Simulator

The Typhoon Simulator is located in Hangar 4 and features a powerful 3-axis hydraulic system, new HD screen and new film. Experience the thrills and exhilaration of flying over the beautiful Lake District in a RAF Eurofighter Typhoon.

Tickets cost £5 per person per ride and are available for purchase from the Typhoon Simulator or online at the RAF website. The minimum height requirement for the Typhoon Simulator is 1.07m (3’6″ or 42 inches). Open 10:40am to 4pm, weekends, school and public holidays.

Handley Page Heavy Bomb Carrier RAF Museum

What’s On at RAF Museum London 2024

The Royal Air Force Museum London regularly organises family activities and events throughout the year. The Museum also runs Little Swifts play sessions for preschoolers (aged 2 to 5 years) during term time with arts and crafts, games, stories and songs.

Lockheed Hudson IIIA at Royal Air Force Museum

Keep an eye on the Events calendar for more on the play sessons, along with the latest family events and activities at RAF London Museum during the weekends and school holidays. Here is what’s coming up at the Royal Air Force London Museum for kids;

Fun Family Theatre: Sky’s the Limit!

10 February – 18 February 2024

Experience the thrilling stories of the Royal Air Force this February half term through theatre shows, comic book workshops, book readings and more! The Royal Air Force Museum London will have a dynamic range of activities and workshops on taking visitors through over 100 years of triumphant tales.

Related: February Half Term Kids Activities in London

Sky’s the Limit activities that cost extra include an interactive one-hour show, Rations, Ascent and Far Away! (Tickets cost £5 for child, £7.50 for adult) and crazy comic book workshops (Tickets cost £5).

Book tickets for the Sky’s the Limit activities at the Royal Air Force Museum

RAF Museum Hendon with Kids

Find more inspiration for February family days out in our February half-term activities in London guide.

Royal Air Force Museum London

Address: Grahame Park Way, London, NW9 5LL

Opening Hours: Open daily from 10am to 5pm, excluding 24 – 26 December 2023 and 1 January 2024.

Tickets: Free admission. Extra charge for some family activities or events during half term and school holidays

Parking: Parking costs £6.50 for up to 3 hours, £9 for 3 to 6 hours. Note that vehicles may not park on site before 10am, unless part of a pre-booked group. Pre-book parking at the RAF Museum London parking webpage – you will be asked to enter in your vehicle registration when you book online.

Food and Drink: The Sunderland Café next to the RAF Museum Shop in Hangar 1 is open only on weekends and holidays.

The RAF Museum canteen-style café, Hendon Kitchen, is located near the outdoor playground and toilets. Hendon Kitchen is counter service and serves light snacks, sandwiches and salad, hot meals and cakes. View the latest Hendon Kitchen menu.

Hendon Kitchen is open from 10am to 5pm (takeaway service only from 4:30pm to 5pm). During weekends and holidays, Hendon Kitchen is open from 11am to 4pm (takeaway service only from 3:30pm to 4pm).

rafmuseum.org.uk/london

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This post was updated on 16 January 2024 with information about upcoming February half term family activities.

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Royal Air Force Museum with Kids