The RAF Institute of Aviation Medicine human centrifuge, almost unchanged from when it was first commissioned in 1955, played a central role in aviation medicine research during its 64-year life (1955-2019). It was used to gain a better understanding of how G affects the human body and to develop the countermeasures required to equip RAF fast jet pilots with essential life-support systems. It is thought to be the oldest example of a human centrifuge in the world and the only one designed and manufactured by British engineers.
With the agreement of the owner, Raintree Developments Ltd, the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST) now exclusively offers comprehensive guided tours of this fascinating Grade II listed facility. This is a rare opportunity to examine close up this unique and impressive example of 1950’s British Engineering, which is the recipient of the prestigious Engineering Heritage Award from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
What to expect
The tour lasts around 2¼ hours. It starts with a talk about the effects of G on the human body, various ways of G protection and the history of the centrifuge, with archive film to illustrate. This is followed by a hands-on tour around the centrifuge itself, together with the associated machinery used to run and control it, all with knowledgeable guides, some of whom used to work on (and ride on) the centrifuge. The tour ends with a slideshow of the centrifuge construction and a short filmshow of the centrifuge in operation.
Visitors are able to actually sit in the (non-operational!) centrifuge and there are plenty of opportunities for photographs.
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Tour dates and pricing
The tours are held by pre-arrangement only and are not necessarily available every week. We run tours for both groups and individuals / couples. Tailored tours for specific interests (eg photographic clubs) can also be arranged.
The latest confirmed tour dates for individuals / couples can be found here.
To request an alternative date for a tour or to arrange a tour for a group, please email email@example.com. Tours are normally available on a weekday at 10.30am or 2pm (apart from Friday mornings during term time). It may also be possible to run an occasional tour on a Saturday. Tours usually last around 2¼ hours, but shorter (or longer) tours can also be arranged on request.
Usual prices are £15 per person (including a 40 page high quality souvenir booklet) or £25 per couple (including one booklet).
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details and to book a place.
The centrifuge is located to the south of Farnborough airfield (post code GU14 6GF) in the middle of a housing estate, a short drive away from the main FAST Museum site. There is limited pre-booked permit parking on site. We are keen to minimise any disturbance to the residents, and will send you joining and parking instructions once your booking is confirmed.