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New exhibition at South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum: ‘Riding High: Doncaster Airfields and the Zeppelin Raid on Sheffield’

Posted  3 November 2016 in News  
By Liz Robertson
Riding High exhibition poster

A new exhibition at South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum in Doncaster reveals South Yorkshire’s pivotal role in the First World War battle for the skies, training the world’s first fighter pilots and pioneering cutting-edge technology against the deadly Zeppelin airships.

The exhibition, ‘Riding High: Doncaster Airfields and the Zeppelin Raid on Sheffield’, is a partnership between the South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum and Doncaster 1914-18, a four-year project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.  It traces the near-forgotten 100 year-old origins of modern air-warfare in the area, through personal letters and photographs, original remnants from serving aircraft – some lovingly recycled into souvenirs by their owners, and scale models.

Jude Holland, Doncaster 1914-18 Project Manager:  “In the run-up to the war, aeroplanes were a novelty – little more than pleasure-craft – and people would never have dreamed of flying to war.  Zeppelins changed that: they were a horrifying innovation that sent a shockwave of fear across Britain, and were dubbed ‘Baby Killers’”

South Yorkshire experienced an astonishing growth of aviation during the War, gaining five new airfields and a specialist factory, training hundreds of pilots, and acting as a local base for the Royal Flying Corps. Local businesses – like Peglers of Doncaster – also adapted to work with aircraft, many employing large numbers of women for the first time.

Unfortunately, the need was especially high because of the heavy casualties and loss of life involved in aerial warfare. Over 8000 air-related casualties were recorded between 1916 and 1918, the danger compounded by the experimental technology used.

‘Riding High: Doncaster Airfields and the Zeppelin Raid on Sheffield’ is located at the South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum, Doncaster.  For opening times and to find out how to get there, visit  For full details about the exhibition and special events, or to find out more about getting involved in Doncaster 1914-18, visit

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