About the Virtual Museum Collections & Exhibitions Lee-on-the-Solent
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The Daedalus Virtual Aviation Museum tells the story of naval aviation at Lee-on-Solent from the dark days of 1917 through to the present day. The Museum is a memorial to the men and women who served our country in times of peace and peril, and to the airfield which bore witness to the birth of naval aviation and development of the Fleet Air Arm and Royal Air Force in Britain and the Commonwealth.
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About the Site
Virtual displays within the Museum emphasize life at Lee on Solent Airfield which began in 1917, but exhibits encompass a wide range of RNAS, Royal Navy, RAF and civilian activities from the early days of flying up to the present. Commercial and recreational life are also represented, reflecting the mosaic of multi-use - the living heritage that continues at Lee on Solent till today.
The Virtual Museum comprises of a web-based history of the part played by the men and women of HMS Daedalus and its precursors, in two world wars, from the arrival of the first Short 184 seaplanes in 1917 as part of the HM Naval Seaplane Training School. It tells the story of when the establishment became the RAF Seaplane Training School in 1920, after which in 1934 an aerodrome was first opened. The Air Station was first commissioned as HMS Daedalus in May 1939 as the headquarters of the Fleet Air Arm. Postwar as HMS Ariel, the site formed the Royal Naval Air Engineering School, and the Interservice Hovercraft Trials Unit. The School transferred to HMS Sultan 1995, and the air station finally decommissioned in March 1996.
There is much to make your virtual visit one to remember. A Virtual Aircraft Collection of all the aircraft stationed at Lee-on-Solent in its long history till today. Items about Daedalus's role in the Battle of Britain, Coastal Command and D-Day, and what can be seen at the airfield today, including its Architectural gems. There are also exhibitions about the valuable role that Daedalus plays in Air-Sea Search-and-Rescue, and in Police activities, as well as about the evolving plans under the Daedalus Conservation Area and the Daedalus Development Strategy of the MOD, Hampshire, Fareham and Gosport Councils. Recreation is not forgotten and details about the various clubs and Aircraft restoration projects are also exhibited.
If this was not enough the Virtual Museum is in unique partnership with the Fleet Air Arm Archive with details about the rich heritage of the Fleet Air Arm during the Second World War, about the aircraft, ships, and squadrons, and about daily life of the work of the ground crews, women at war, uniforms, medals, badges, documents, and photographs, which vie for attention with models, flight simulation and online archives.
There are personal stories to be read, and virtual rooms where Veterans have recorded their memories for posterity, and where you can remember all those who failed to return, in the Fleet Air Arm Honour and Memorial Rolls.
A feature of the Virtual Museum is our growing Archive and Reference Library where items are accessible on a daily basis to researchers, historians schools and interested visitors.
This is the small, friendly type of virtual museum which brings visitors back time and again. Browsing is encouraged, and children welcome, especially at our 'hands on' areas where they can sit in a virtual flight simulator and virtually "fly" the epic flights of the Second World War, or fly the Supermarine S6B to again break the virtual air speed record of 1931.
The website was launched in Battle of Britain week to commemorate all those in the Fleet Air Arm and WRNS who were lost during the enemy attacks by the Luftwaffe on Lee-on-Solent in autumn 1940.
The website was launched exactly 70 years after Flt Lt G H Stainforth established a new World Speed Record in the Supermarine S6B at Lee-on-Solent on 29 September 1931.
About the Author
The Daedalus Virtual Museum first went online in its prototype form in July 2001 and officially launched in September 2001. Information for the Museum has been gathered over the past 35 years under the enthusiastic lead of the senior author and Director of the Fleet Air Arm Archive, Graham R Falkner Drucker. The flame that ignited the passion for safeguarding our Fleet Air Arm Heritage stemmed from Graham's background as being nephew to Lt Cdr Roy S Baker-Falkner DSO DSC RN, who was a true FAA hero, veteran of the pre war FAA at the time when it was part of the RAF, serving at Lee-on-Solent in 1937-1938. Baker-Falkner was a veteran of Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, a Naval Test Pilot, film star and Strike Leader of the famed attack which crippled the German Battleship Tirpitz prior to D-Day. He last returned to HMS Daedalus in 1943 when he demonstrated the qualities of the new and still secret dive-bomber, the Fairey Barracuda to Members of Parliament and the military. Graham grew up in the Lee-on-Solent area post war and visited a number of the Daedalus Air Days, his family still live locally.
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Created: 24-6-2001; Last Modified: 18-6-2002
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