Morayvia Aerospace Museum

Written by Chris Thornton | 10th of November 2021
Morayvia - a great place to visit in Moray

Morayvia is an Aerospace Museum and Science Centre located in Kinloss near the Moray Coast. I had never visited the museum but it had always been at the back of my mind that I should really visit - I had heard good things about it and my family did have a special connection with the RAF (Royal Air Force) at Lossiemouth and Kinloss with both my Father and Grandfather serving at both bases.

My father had been speaking to the chairman of Morayvia - Mark Mair - about this website and how I was looking for new content... Mark kindly invited us down to tour the museum so I could write a piece about it, we visited the following weekend on a rainy afternoon.

As with most places I have visited so far, I found my expectations exceeded. I thought Morayvia was just all about the Sea King helicopter, I was very wrong!

Main frontage of the visitor centre. Morayvia on North Road, Kinloss

What is Morayvia Aviation Museum?

Morayvia aims to provide an interactive science and technology centre. The goal is to create and document a long and fascinating history regarding military aviation in Moray.

Basically, it is a museum dedicated to the local aviation history of RAF bases in Moray, RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Kinloss (now Kinloss Barracks) and also airbases that existed during WW2 throughout Moray and Aberdeenshire.

Vulcan forward fuselage

A brief history of Morayvia

Morayvia was formed in 2011 as a natural progression from the existing Nimrod Heritage Group, which were responsible for saving the last remaining Nimrod MR2 - a Royal Air Force maritime patrol aircraft used between the 1970s and 2010.

Initially, a forward fuselage section of Nimrod "XV240" was used as a travelling attraction, often seen at events such as air shows around Moray and Aberdeenshire.

Over the next year or so the project grew, with funding given from Moray Leader and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Morayvia was granted charitable status in 2012 and ceased to be a private company. Royal support was also given by The Duke of Edinburgh (formerly Honorary Air Commodore of RAF Kinloss) for the establishment of the aerospace and science centre.

The centre was established at Kinloss Abbeylands former Primary school site, an ideal space for the new museum with its large interior and expansive "playground". The facility opened to the public on the 10th of October 2015.

There are two main areas, the main building/visitor centre, and the outdoors area with many full-size planes and helicopters on display.

Morayvia is now one of the premier aviation museums in the UK.

Fire Engines used at RAF Kinloss

Upon entering the centre we received a warm welcome from Nat Haggar, a retired Canberra pilot. This man's enthusiasm for aeroplanes is something to behold, and he eagerly took us to the Hawker Hunter exhibit and ejector seats. It was really interesting hearing about the evolution of ejector seats and how they changed the design over the years to help avoid injury.

This area also housed cockpit sections of a Hawker Hunter F5 and De Havilland DH 115 Vampire T11. It's amazing really that someone could fit into these tiny cockpits, there wasn't much room in them at all.

De Havilland DH 115 Vampire T11 forward fuselage

Tiny cockpit for the pilot

There was a great collection of model aeroplanes here too as seen in the photo below.

A nice selection of models at Morayvia

Continuing on there was a wide variety of exhibits, everything from aeroplane cockpits, ejector seats and even entire engines. The engines are huge and impressive, but there are also many small interesting objects... one item I found tucked right at the back was a camera used on bombers in WW2. The museum is just jam-packed full of these amazing historical artefacts, it's easy to walk by and miss a lot.

The WW2 era camera.

One of the enormous engines on display in the visitor centre

An ejector seat

One of the volunteer guides was keen to show us a cockpit that was used in "Batman: The Dark Knight Rises". The cockpit was used for interior shots of an in-air sequence.

There was an interactive area with joysticks so you could have a go at flying a plane on a flight simulator, I bet my kids would have enjoyed that.

Outdoor Exhibits

For me, this was the main attraction at the centre, with a wide variety of helicopters and aeroplanes available to view.

Nimrod Heritage Group

Nimrod XV240 forward fuselage

The star attraction is likely the Nimrod cockpit and forward fuselage. The controls look so complicated, and the windows are tiny, it feels like it must have been difficult to fly but according to the staff member - John Horn, visibility was good when you were actually sitting in the pilot seat.

Nimrod cockpit where the air crew sat | Nimrod Heritage Group

Sea King, part of Moray's aviation history

Westland Sea King HAR Mk3 Helicopter - XZ592

Personally, I loved seeing the Sea King helicopter the most. I was very used to seeing these on a daily basis when we lived right next to them as a child. Their take-off spot for these bright yellow choppers could be seen from our window and I often used to watch them take off and land. In my mind, at the time they reminded me of giant bumblebees due to the paint and the delicate hovering they were capable of.

Controls of the Sea King

The yellow Sea Kings were a common sight on the coastline around Moray, often passing Portgordon and Buckie. Santa Claus was also known to make a fly-by on the helicopters at Christmas! Despite being a source of worry (as they were search and rescue helicopters) it was always nice to see them flying around over the Moray Firth. Amazingly the aircraft here had flown 207900 miles and rescued over 2600 people in its operational life. It's a real shame it was retired in 2016 as they were truly part of the scenery around here. Well done to Morayvia for preserving a Sea King for Moray.

Sea King interior

It was a real treat to see the Sea King here at Morayvia, I got to have a look inside throughout the whole helicopter. An ex-navy volunteer was on hand and was very knowledgeable on the aircraft. He mentioned he flew on the Sea King while hunting submarines in the Falklands War. It was interesting hearing about his flying experiences on the aircraft, especially hunting Argentinian submarines.

Side view of the helicopter

A visit from Santa on a Sea King!

Antonov II plane. Not only the aircrafts.

Antonov II - 15 seater bi-plane

Another aircraft that caught my attention was this Antonov II. I peered into the side door, it looked like a set piece from an Indiana Jones film. A guide approached and told me all about this interesting aeroplane, he told me to tap the wings - they were made from canvas!

These three exhibits stood out for me but the others were fantastic too, here they are listed:

  • SEPECAT Jaguar ground-attack aircraft
  • Antonov II - 15 seater bi-plane
  • Saunders-Roe Skeeter AOPI2 helicopter
  • Handley Page Herald forward fuselage
  • MBA Tiger Cub
  • BAE Nimrod forward fuselage
  • De Havilland Vampire cockpit
  • Hawker Hunter cockpit
  • Vickers Valiant cockpit
  • BAC Jet Provost cockpit
  • AVRO Vulcan cockpit
  • Gloster Meteor NFIl cockpit
  • Blackburn Buccaneer cockpit
  • English Electric Canberra cockpit
  • English Electric Lightning cockpit
  • Bedford 'Green Goddess' fire appliance
  • Simon Gloster Saro Highlander Protector RIV

The gift shop

Gift shop

There is a great gift shop on-site, containing model Airfix kits, toys, pictures and other nice mementos from your visit to Morayvia.

The staff and volunteers

Despite all of the wonderful exhibits at Morayvia, the true treasure of this place is in its staff and volunteers. They seem like such a kind and welcoming bunch and are super eager to show you the exhibits, explain the history and answer any questions you might have. Many of them worked on and flew all of the aircraft at the museum and can give first-hand accounts of their time in the RAF, including the war in the Falklands. Amazingly there was a man there who flew with the Red Arrows! Wow! Some of the staff were just civilians but who had a great deal of interest and respect for the items contained in the museum.

A visit for their many anecdotes and jokes is worth the price of admission alone.

The gift shop

How do I get to Morayvia?

Morayvia is located in an old primary school building situated next to the old MOD accommodation at Southside Estate. From the A96 turn down Kinloss Road and follow it right into town. Note Kinloss Abbey on your left! Upon reaching the junction for B9089 turn right, you should see a sign here for Morayvia too. Continue a short distance until you see a right turn to Morayvia, again signposted. If you pass Kinloss Barracks on your left you have gone too far. Take another right along North Road and follow it until you see Morayvia. There are a good amount of parking spaces available.

Engines in the interior show space

Conclusion

My dad and I had a fantastic visit to Morayvia, it was much more to see and do than I realised, and it was a fantastic walk down memory lane seeing the Sea King helicopter, and a truly great experience getting to go inside it and ask questions with people who flew on it.

Reading on a local news site it seems Morayvia has had problems with funding over the years, with unexpected bills and cash flow problems... your visit to the centre would be greatly appreciated and it is highly worth your support. £10 donations can be made by texting MORAYVIA to 70085.

Opening times: Morayvia is open seasonally and will re open on the 2nd of April 2022, 11 am to 5 pm on weekends. Please see their website for more information and the latest news.

Morayvia location map

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