Duke of Kent opens new aviation display

A multi-million-pound exhibition charting the history of civil and military aviation has been officially launched by the Duke of Kent. AirSpace - which has been opened at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, near Cambridge - is home to more than 30 iconic British and Commonwealth aircraft, including the Supermarine Spitfire, Avro Lancaster, English Electric Lightning and BAC Aerospatiale Concorde.

A multi-million-pound exhibition charting the history of civil and military aviation has been officially launched by the Duke of Kent.

AirSpace - which has been opened at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, near Cambridge - is home to more than 30 iconic British and Commonwealth aircraft, including the Supermarine Spitfire, Avro Lancaster, English Electric Lightning and BAC Aerospatiale Concorde.

As well as giving visitors a new insight into the country's rich aviation heritage, it is hoped the display - which is set out over three acres - will provide a formal learning environment and inspire future generations to realise the potential of careers in aerospace engineering.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter Squire, chairman of the museum's board of trustees, said: "AirSpace underlines the relevance of Duxford and the contribution it makes at the heart of the east of England.

"This remarkable building celebrates not just Britain's extraordinary achievements in the field of aviation, but also the opportunities available to future generations of pilots, engineers and designers."

AirSpace, which cost £25m to build, includes an area devoted to conservation, a range of supporting exhibition and gallery spaces, a suite of classrooms and education workshops, a conference facility and a 200-seat lecture theatre.

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The Duke of Kent, who is president of the Imperial War Museum, spoke of his pleasure at opening the exhibition, which he labelled one of the "most ambitious projects of its kind" ever to be undertaken.

"With a footprint exceeding 15,000 square metres, and over three times as long as the distance covered during the Wright Brothers' first flight, AirSpace is one of the largest, most spectacular spaces for the interpretation of aviation heritage anywhere in the world," he said.

"In completing AirSpace, the Imperial War Museum brings to conclusion 10 years of development and build that has, from every perspective, delivered a museum of national significance and international standing."

The Duxford Imperial War Museum, which this year celebrates its 89th birthday, is home to more than 70 flying warplanes, which can regularly be seen in the skies.

It also stages more airshows in a year than anywhere else in the country, attracting around 80,000 people who travel from all over the world to watch the displays.

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