During the First World War Boulton & Paul started manufacturing aeroplanes in Norwich in 1915, flying them from Mousehold Heath (later known as RAF Horsham St Faith and now Norwich International Airport.
In the Second World War around 30 new airfields were built in Norfolk, 18 for use by USAAF 8th Air Force,the home to over 3,000 US airmen (the so-called 'friendly invasion' of 1942) operating the B-17 Flying Fortress and the B-24 Liberator bomber and RAF Bomber Command.
There's an excellent website detailing Norfolk's airfields.
Although, save for runways, little remains of most of the airfileds, laid out on comandeered farmland, making full use of the wide open spaces for which Norfolk is justly famed, there is aviation hisotry to be found locally.
Run by enthusiasts, The City of Norwich Aviation Museum adjoins Norwich International Airport, situated at the former RAF Horsham St Faiths. As well as indoor exhibits relating to RAF Coltishall, Norwich Airport, the RAF No 100 Group and the USAAF 8th Air Force, the civil and military aircraft on display usually include a Hawker Hunter, Vulcan bomber, Jaguar, Vulcan bomber, Lightning, Fokker Friendship, and a Whirlwind search and rescue helicopter.
An hour so's drive from White Lodge Farm is The Imperial War Museum at Duxford, near Cambridge, which proclaims itself to be Europe's premier aviation museum. But it also has one of the finest collections of tanks, military vehicles and naval exhibits in the country.
Open 7 days a week for almost the whole year the exhibits are housed in five hangars, with a separate building, designed by Norman Foster, houses the largest collection of American warbirds on display outside the United States, including a vintage B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator, B-25 Mitchell, P-47 Thunderbolt, and aircraft from the Cold War era such as a B-52 Stratofortress, SR-71 Blackbird and F-4 Phantom, with many suspended from the ceiling as if in flight.
The The Royal Air Force Air Defence Radar Museum at Neatishead, just north of Norwich is situated in the original operations building of the early warning system first installed in 1941. The award-winning museum gives insights into the history and development of Detection, Air Intelligence Photography, Air Defence Radar and Air Battle Management from the 1930's to the modern computer technology of today.
Situated on the former USAAF airfield at Hethel (now home to the Lotus cars test track) is the 389th Memorial Exhibition Museum, housed in the former chapel/gymnasium and open on some Sundays and and at other times by arrangement.
To see modern aircraft in action here's usually plenty of activity at RAF Lakenheath (which is home to the USAAF) and RAF Mildenhall, the former having a designated viewing area. For a more formal display there's Lowestoft Sea Front Air Festival, a major event usually held over two days towards the end of July. On a much smaller scale, in September, is Seething Airfield Charity Air Day with a range of modern and historic aircraft on the ground and in the air. And, of course, there are the airdays at The Imperial War Museum at Duxford.
Located in and around the restored control tower of the former bomber base, the Thorpe Abbotts museum tells the story of Thorpe Abbotts and portrays every-day life on an American bomber base. A D-4 link trainer is on display, while a B-24 tail turret is undergoing restoration.
The museum of the 93rd Bomb Group at Hardwick is located in two of the original Nissen huts on the airfield, which is near Long Stratton.
Close to White Lodge Farm Cottages, the clubhouse of Shipham Aero Club is home to the museum of the Flying Eightballs (Shipdham airfield was the first US heavy bomber base in Norfolk and was the continuous host to B-24 Liberators longer than any other Eighth Air Force combat airfield in Britain - from October 1942 to late 1945).
All the places mentioned on this page can be reached within an hour's drive of White Lodge Farm.
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