A few days ago I was at Above and Beyond, a new exhibition at the National Maritime Museum. I flew like a goose, following the leader of our migrating flock as we swooped over the woods and mountains. It was great!
The exhibition is all about the wonders of flight and man’s journey to space, the final frontier and all that. The Sammy Ofer Gallery is full of shiny interactive exhibits – my flight was just the first of a number of hands-on adventures.
Next, I flew a jet which I’d designed. Loved it! Suddenly I saw the appeal of Top Gun. Tragically, I was very bad at the actual flying bit. Awful. I didn’t crash as such, but I definitely grazed some treetops at one point. The six year old who followed me was a natural so I walked away, casually but quickly, so he wouldn’t see how bitterly jealous I was.
The exhibits focus on the wonders of aerospace innovation, design and technology and the advances which are constantly being made into the skies of our planet – and of others.
You can plan a trip to Mars and see some of the tech material that’s likely to get you there, from super-fine and super-strong fibre to even finer and stronger metallic microlattice made of hollow metal tubes 1000 time thinner than a human hair. The sort of material that could change the way aircraft, cars, buildings and, of course, spaceships, are made.
We took a space elevator from ground level into outer space, lifted impossibly heavy weights with tiny magnets (cool slow-mo below) and saw tiny satellites and the next generation of survey drones before turning the corner to another interactive which launches dreams. That’s right. Dreams.
Above and Beyond is aimed at 7 – 14 year olds and they’re going to love it – I predict many repeat visits to the jet station. It might be aimed at a younger age group but parents are going to have a great time here as well – it’s a big bundle of fun where you’ll actually learn something new. A bit like Gadget Man but with less hair.
So leave your inhibitions outside, take off with the geese and head for the stars.
Above and Beyond 27 May – 29 August 2016
National Maritime Museum