Back in March we visited the Royal Air Force Museum in Colindale*, in North West London, built on part of the former Hendon Aerodrome. It is a large site with five huge hangars* plus one ex-factory building, all filled with examples of innovative and pioneering aircraft, from the earliest wood and canvas machines with their bicycle wheels underneath, to gigantic bombers and military carriers. We first went into the Milestones of Flight Hall, a collection of examples from the long history of aviation. Covering the entire side wall is an Aviation History Timeline. At one end is a large balcony area and along the side a long raised walkway, allowing close-up inspection of the suspended airplanes. I thought these were quite amazing* on their slender* steel cables, hanging from a curved tent-like roof, until I realised that the planes obviously did not have their* engines and other equipment inside.
* "Colindale" You could also write as one outline, using a full stroke N instead of hook
* "hangars" Dictionary outline, for the pronunciation "hang-gars". Alternatively use the outline shown in para 8
* "amazing" and "amusing" Always insert the vowel
* "slender" Helpful to insert the vowel, as "cylinder" could possibly make sense as well
* "have their" Doubling for "their"
|Milestones of Flight Hall|
A short connecting walkway leads to the Bomber Hall. The Royal Flying Corps, which later became the RAF, was created and developed* to help defend this country and the development of airplanes fulfilled that defensive role before passenger services became available. This hall houses the larger planes, with plenty of space to walk around and see them from every angle. It is one thing to see large aircraft in pictures or watch them flying in the distance, but quite another to walk about almost underneath them, and I was mentally measuring them by the length of my garden (about 75 feet*). A few of them would just about fit the wingspan into my plot, with the fuselage taking up the neighbours’ gardens on either side! It made me wonder what a logistical task it must have been* to get them all parked in their correct positions, and how you could not really remove one plane without moving all the surrounding ones as well. Imagining all these umpteen tons of metal taking to the air is another wonder, even though we know how it is done and ought to be well used to the fact by now, and knowing that there are planes in our skies that would barely fit into the entire building on their own.
* "developed" The contraction is for the noun "development" but is also safe to use for the verb as well. Optional short dash through last stroke of contraction to indicate past tense.
* "75 feet" Insert the vowel, as "foot" could also make sense
* Omission phrase "it must (have) been"
The Bomber Hall connects to the Historic Hangars Hall but unfortunately plane fatigue was setting in, with a fading supply of energy and attention, and we decided to halt there and get home before the rush hour on the trains. We would return another day to continue our tour through aviation history. This we did two weeks ago*, and carried on where we left off. We saw the helicopters, both military and rescue, a gyrocopter and a lone ejector seat showing the mechanism, and many more historic aircraft.
* Omission phrase "two wee(k)s ago"
We then made our way to the Grahame-White Building, a former aircraft factory, which now houses the First World War In The Air display. On the walls are pictures of the building during its time as an aircraft construction factory, with crowds of women making up the wood and canvas components. I looked into their faces and tried to imagine their lives, and also what they would make of it now, with grey photos of themselves and their workmates on the walls, but the room entirely clean and silent, and filled with examples of the planes that they helped to make. It would be like me going into a museum showing an office, with desks and old manual typewriters, messy carbon paper and ink duplicating machine, with never a computer in sight, silent instead of filled with the clatter of the machines.
The display cases showed the uniforms and equipment that were used, and my attention was arrested by a set of protective outer garments for a pilot. It was made of sheepskin, in separate parts, with the wool innermost, and there was a rather* scary looking leather mask shaped to fit the face, with small holes for eyes and the base of the nose, and a slit for the mouth, to protect the skin during flight in an open cockpit. In one glass case was an array of small bomb cases and grenades, and I was appalled to see a particular anti-personnel weapon that was used by both sides in the First World War, a selection of different types of flechette (meaning little arrow) which are sharp tipped steel darts that would be dropped in clusters, to cause panic and injury to people and animals. There was an original Union Jack* insignia that was used on the planes, until they found it was being mistaken for the German cross-shaped insignia and so it was quickly replaced with the circle in red, white and blue that is still used today by the RAF.
* "rather" If you felt this could be misread as "rare" it would be helpful to insert a first place dot vowel, although it is not dictionary to do so
* Contraction "yu-(nion) Jack"
I was intrigued by one particular floor display, an illuminated undulating surface resembling* a large almost unfolded map, with a video projection on it showing map details and airplanes flying round over the features with a soundtrack explaining what was happening. This was quite fascinating, and because the planes flying round had a shadow underneath, they looked like real models above the surface, rather than part of the projection. I thought how much fun it would be to have a smaller version of this, with the appropriate* computer programme to create my own video of flying over a flowery meadow or stitched together pictures of my garden, but no doubt that would be rather expensive.
* "resembling" It is not necessary here to use the downward Ar before M, because the circle provides the break between the two strokes
* "appropriate" Insert the diphone, and the first vowel in "proper", in order to differentiate
The exhibits are the most obvious part of the museum but on every plaque and all around the walls are stories and descriptions* of the people involved, their discoveries and inventions, medals kindly loaned* by the families, and the wartime experiences of airmen, soldiers and civilians. Rows of bomb cases alongside the aircraft, plus some burnt out bomber hulks, reminded us that this was the horrific reality for those living through those times and the price that was paid to defend the country from invasion. Personal memorabilia and stories are everywhere, and although it is impossible to read all of them, they bring a glimpse through the keyhole into someone else’s* reality and life experiences.
* "descriptions" The plural does not use the contraction, as that would look too much like "discourse" which has a similar meaning
* "loaned" and "lent" Insert the vowel to differentiate
* "someone else's" Helpful to insert the W-sign if you felt it might be misread as "something else's", although in that case it would be quicker not to phrase, in which case "someone" would just have the hook N
The museum shop is full of everything that an enthusiast could want, especially the younger ones, with plane covered coats, jumpers, bags, pyjamas and various uniforms in child sizes, as well as row upon row of toys and model making kits. For the older ones keyrings, mugs, ties, ladies’ scarves, books, bookmarks, pens, pencils and pencil cases. There was a small inflatable* Spitfire airplane, ideal for hanging from the bedroom ceiling, just like the museum planes, the best place to avoid the disappointment of a puncture. I think this could be called a hanger*, in order to* give you the shorthand outline that reflects the pronunciation. For actual flying, the cheap polystyrene glider kits are better, and it might occur to an enterprising youngster to trace round the pieces before assembly, in order to produce a whole fleet of similar ones for colouring in.
* "hanger" Outline exactly as pronunciation "hang+er". You could use this outline for "hangar" if preferred, especially as this is its most likely pronunciation nowadays, see para 1
* Omission phrase "in ord(er to)"
|Bailed out into the sea and releasing carrier pigeon|
I was amused* to see a small boy going round and round, unable to decide which toy to have and being reminded quite a few times that he could have any two toys. Eventually the parents said OK two planes and one other toy. The delay paid off, although I think not intentional on the boy’s part, and I am sure they would really have liked him to have anything and everything he wanted. I wonder if they secretly bought extra for his next birthday or a Christmas surprise. Parents know exactly which toy that should be because the child will keep coming back to it, picking it up and putting it down, despite it being well beyond the budget for the day. The decision to have several small toys seems more likely, because, in language terms at least, three toys must be better than one!
* "amused" and "amazed" Always insert the vowel
We came out into the sunlight and hot summer air, and although I do not like to waste good sunny days on indoor activities, this was a particularly humid and uncomfortable day and the cooler air inside was very welcome. Despite two extensive visits, we have still not seen everything and so another visit will be necessary, one to save for autumn or winter days, as all the time is spent inside and out of the weather, the opposite of the discomfort that the pilots endured in the freezing* open cockpits of the early airplanes. (1402 words)
* "freezing" and "frozen" Always insert the first vowel, as they are similar in outline and meaning