Wednesday 5 October 2022

Iconic planes on display at Bahrain exhibition

MANAMA, May 22, 2016

A new exhibition celebrating the strong civil and military aviation heritage between Bahrain and the United Kingdom will open at the Bahrain National Museum tomorrow (May 23).

The exhibition is supported by BAE Systems and the UK’s RAF Museum.  

Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, Minister of Culture for the Kingdom of Bahrain, said: “We are delighted that today, as we celebrate the 200 years of friendship with the United Kingdom, we are launching such a distinguished exhibition that displays glimpses of a long and solid relationship with the United Kingdom in the field of military and civil aviation."

The exhibition, which will be formally opened on May 23 by Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the personal representative of His Majesty the King, runs until October 23.

“Spitfire”, a collaboration between BAE Systems and Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, offers an opportunity for the audience to be able to learn more about the different aircraft that represent the important cooperation between the two countries, said a statement.  

The centrepiece of the exhibition is the iconic Supermarine Spitfire, probably the most famous fighter aircraft in history, which first flew 80 years ago. This is the aircraft that defended the skies during the Second World War, including that of Bahrain.  This Spitfire is on loan to the Bahrain National Museum from the RAF Museum, in partnership with BAE Systems.

British Ambassador to Bahrain, Simon Martin, said: “In this historic year, as we celebrate 200 years of the bilateral relationship between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the United Kingdom, I am delighted to have the chance to celebrate the depth and the richness of our relationship. Defence and security have always been key areas in which we have worked together for common interests and this is typified by the presence from today and throughout this summer of the iconic Supermarine Spitfire aircraft, on display at the Bahrain National Museum. I hope as many visitors as possible will come to see this beautiful and historic aircraft and - for those who do not already know - to learn about the important role the Kingdom of Bahrain played in supporting the UK during the Second World War”.

The Supermarine Spitfire remains the iconic British fighter of the Second World War, and Britain was not alone in its fight.  The Gulf Fighter Fund, which included Bahrain, financed the purchase of 11 Spitfires to aid the war effort. These were funded by all sections of the community in the Arabian Gulf. In total, the Fighter Fund raised £50,000 (BD31,000) and six Spitfires bore the name Bahrain.  

Sir Glenn Torpy, senior military adviser, BAE Systems, and chairman of the trustees of the RAF Museum, said:  “This is an exciting day for both Bahrain and aviation.  The relationship between the United Kingdom and Bahrain has always been extremely strong, as evidenced by this year’s 200th Anniversary, and we are delighted to be able to bring the Spitfire aircraft to Bahrain to support the Exhibition and the Anniversary.  Bahrain’s purchase of six Spitfires for the RAF during the Second World War was an important sign of Bahrain’s support to the United Kingdom, and hugely appreciated by the RAF at a time of great peril.  This year marks the 80th Anniversary of the first flight of the Spitfire, and also the 40th Anniversary of Concorde’s first supersonic flight into Bahrain.  It is, therefore, an auspicious year for both these iconic aircraft, and the relationship between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the UK”.

A number of other aircraft are on display in the exhibition, including:   

•    The Anson, designed and built in the North West of England by Avro, was used to establish the Gulf Aviation Company in 1950 which today has become Gulf Air, the national airline of Bahrain;
•    The Vickers VC-10 was used for commercial flights into Bahrain by the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) from 1964 and by Gulf Air in the 1970s.  More recently RAF VC-10s were based in Bahrain during the 1991 Gulf War;
•    The Blackburn Buccaneer was based at RAF Muharraq.  This aircraft was designed and build in Brough in the UK, a factory that would eventually build a fleet of Hawk training aircraft for the RBAF some 40 years later.
•    Concorde, which in January celebrated the 40th anniversary of its inaugural flight into Bahrain on 21 January 1976 when the aircraft made the world’s first supersonic commercial flight, is an iconic symbol of progress, with the ability to fly at 22 miles a minute.  This milestone in aviation history only took Concorde three hours and 17 minutes to reach Bahrain from London Heathrow. Another first associated with Concorde is that HH Shaikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa became the first Arab head of state to fly supersonically. Concorde was manufactured by the British Aircraft Corporation, a predecessor company of BAE Systems.

These aircraft all demonstrate the fantastic story of aerospace development and innovation in the UK and the way that Bahrain has been a constant supporter and adopter of new technologies, said the statement.

During the exhibition, visitors will be able to watch videos of the Spitfire in action during the Second World War, take photographs in front of the aircraft and learn all about aviation in Bahrain.

Running alongside the exhibition, there is an Education programme, which gives Bahraini schools the opportunity to learn more about aviation and Bahrain in an informative and fun way. – TradeArabia News Service

Tags: planes | BAE | museum | Iconic |

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