Today we're heading south from Prestwick Airport in Scotland down into the heart of England, to a historic military airbase in the town of Cosford that's now home a spectacular museum for Britain's Royal Air Force. See below for more information about this museum.
Prestwick Airport has its share of history, too. The airport hosted the only known visit of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock 'n' Roll, to British territory. It happened on March 3, 1960, when Presley was returning to the U.S. after finishing military service in Europe. Plaques at Prestwick still commemorate the occasion.
As we fly south, we'll cross the border betweeen Scotland and England. Just south of that, at a narrow point in the island of Great Britain, we'll cross the path of Hadrian's Wall, which was built in the 2nd century A.D. to mark the northern limit of the Roman Empire. The wall is made of stone, is 73 miles long, and stretches nearly from coast to coast. Much of it still stands today, nearly 2,000 years after it was built.
Did you know that the Romans ruled much of Britain for several centuries? Although the Roman Empire collapsed 1,500 years ago, we'll encounter its presence even today as we travel throughout certain parts of Europe and Africa.
For example: in the U.K., money is not counted in dollars, but "pounds." Today, the symbol for pounds is "£" or a fancy capital L. This is a leftover from Roman days; in the Roman language of Latin, the word for "pound" is "libra" (by the way, that's why when you weigh something, the abbreviation for "pound" is "lb').
We then fly over Lake District National Park, a 912-square-mile preserve and the most visited national park in England. Unlike national parks in the U.S., parks in England are not pristine and undeveloped wilderness, but are working landscapes. In England, the park designation places restrictions on land usage to help preserve the area's rural character.
This area, home to the largest and deepest natural lakes in England, was popular with a group of early 19th century writers known as the "Lake Poets," including William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Robert Southey. Inspired by nature, here they wrote works such as Wordsworth's 'Preludes' and Coleridge's 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.'
We then cross over Liverpool, a city of 500,000 people on the banks of the Mersey River. It's where the Beatles got their start in the 1960s; their hometown has since immortalized the group with museums, exhibits, and in statue form. Liverpool is also known for its maritime history: In the 19th century, Liverpool was a major port of departure for English and Irish emigrants to North America.
We're then due for arrival at RAF Cosford, a former military airfield that's now home to one of the world's top aviation museums. Established in 1979, the Royal Air Force Cosford Museum has grown to include an enormous collection of aircraft, engines, complex missiles, and aviation paraphernalia. They even have a British version of our aircraft, called the "Dakota" on display!
The museum also encompasses political history, in the form of the National Cold War Exhibition, which opened in 2007. The Cold War, which came after World War II, is the term used for decades of geopolitical tensions in the era of Communist expansionism. We'll hear a lot more about the Cold War as we travel the globe.
For now, we'll spend time exploring the amazing collection on display at Cosford, which focuses on military aviation. Many of the aircraft are very rare, such as the only Boulton Paul Defiant in the world and one of only two surviving Vickers Wellingtons left in the world.
Then we'll rest up for our next flight, which will bring us over one of the world's most famous landmarks: the ancient site of Stonehenge on England's Salisbury Plain!