"For those who have an interest in aviation technology, coupled with its history, a visit to the Malta Aviation Museum is a must during your stay on the island. " Reviewed by Mr D McGaw, 63
A Flight of FancyMost people will associate the 3 Gloster Gladiator aircraft, Faith, Hope and Charity with Malta and the famous air battles to defend the island. So, if you’re trying to keep out of the sun, or find yourself subject to one of those rainy days out of season, you’ll love this melange of Malta’s proud history and everything for the aero-geek nestled among the Craft Village, Mdina Glass, the Malta Fairs and Conventions Centre (MFCC) and the National Stadium, on the site of the old Royal Air Force base at Ta’ Qali. Sadly, you won’t be able to see one of this famous trio of Gladiators, although I understand that Faith’s fuselage remains preserved in store on Malta and may hopefully be restored for display one day.
The Museum is very well sign-posted approaching by road from most directions and the number 65 bus from Sliema/St Julians stops right outside the complex. Buses 80 and 81 from Valletta and 86 from Bugibba stop just 7 minutes walk away.
At the Museum
A developing site with ambitious growth plans, a key feature is the Air Battle of Malta Memorial Hangar, where a detailed time-line follows the chronology of events which took place to defend Malta. An excellent video is playing in here, which although a little long, is quite captivating as it reveals the immense hardship that the Maltese people, together with their Allied Forces comrades, suffered, but how, together, their rigid determination and courage carried them through bombardment and near-starvation to finally triumph. The hard-fought air battle over Malta, with its key role in victory in North Africa and Southern Europe, was won and sea convoys with the vital provisions got through. The island was awarded the George Cross for its efforts.
An Aero-geek’s Dream… and kids love it too!The many exhibits which have been, or are being carefully restored include a Supermarine Spitfire MkIX, a Hawker Hurricane MkIIA, and a Gloster Meteor NF14T, together with a number of early aircraft projects such as the Fairey Swordfish and de Havilland Tigermoth and commercial aircraft like the Douglas DC-3 and BAC 1-11. And among the many engines on display, there is a Bristol Mercury, – the engine used on the famous Gladiators! An unusual exhibit is the Auto Giro. Invented in 1919, these giroplanes were precursors to the helicopter. Many well-refurbished examples of airfield equipment and vehicles, together with aircraft instruments, armaments, uniforms and flying kits complete the exhibition.
Some of the pains-taking restoration work on these projects can be viewed in progress on visits to the Museum. The Museum has plans to expand further by adding its largest building yet, a new Main Exhibition Hangar, increasing the roofed exhibition space by some 1,400 square metres.
Aviation Museum Facilities
There is currently a small self-service, vending machine cafe on site, offering a selection of cakes and snacks in a Nissen hut-style building with echoes of a WWII RAF pilots’ field base. The Museum shop offers souvenirs for young and old, from toys to keep the children amused, mementos of the Museum, to DVDs and books recounting Malta’s proud wartime history.
Just remember to allow yourself something like an hour to watch the film running in the Memorial Hangar!