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People have always dreamed of flying and having the freedom to soar with the birds. Discover how this became possible from the earliest flying machines, those used in combat and the commercial passenger aircraft that are part of contemporary travel.


Military aircraft

Discover the aircraft in used in military combat from the the First World War and Second World War to the early 21st century.

Military aircraft
Family looks at a screen under the nose of an airplane in a hangar

Civil aircraft

Explore the different uses of civilian aviation, from flying for fun and exploring the world to connecting distant communities.

Civil aircraft
Concorde on display at National Museum of Flight


For almost 30 years, anyone who could afford the ticket could shoot across the globe at twice the speed of sound. How? By flying on Concorde, one of the world’s only supersonic passenger aircraft.

Pilot polishing the wing of the Red Arrows Hawk aircraft

Red Arrows Hawk

Discover the iconic Red Arrows Hawk T.1A that was flown by the Royal Air Force (RAF) Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows.


Commercial aviation

Track the development of commercial aviation in the 20th century from the inaugural cross channel flight to 1960s jet age and the supersonic era of Concorde.

20th century

Britten-Norman Islander

Uncover the versatility of the best selling aircraft in Europe from which was used for island hopping commercial passenger transport, air ambulance, fisheries protection, policing and counter-terrorist operations, to name but a few.

01 R34 EF 01


Discover the aircraft that made first transatlantic flight from Britain to the United States.


Supermarine Spitfire

Investigate the story of the most famous of all British combat aircraft and the a vital role it played in the Battle of Britain in 1940.

Hawk in flight at Eynsford, detail.jpg

Percy Pilcher's Hawk

Find out more about the inventor and the development of one of the earliest flying machines our collection.

Hawk glider
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