Animatronic dinosaurs brought to life with compressed air

Member News

It's not every day you get the opportunity to work at a stately home... and even less likely it'll involve working alongside dinosaurs! So when Direct Air recieved an email enquiry from Longleat, the chance was snapped up to work on such an interesting project and to showcase different applications of compressed air.

When Longleat decided to partner with The London Natural History Museum and feature the travelling, animatronic dinosaur exhibition ‘T. rex: The Killer Question’ over the summer season, the project became integral to the attractions’ events calendar. The Predator v Scavenger display includes 8 animatronic models, ranging in size from Edmontosaurus hatchlings to a life-sized T. Rex.

The lead for the project, Ellis Rees, quickly needed to address the compressed air requirements in advance of the models’ arrival. The dinosaurs are powered by compressed air as it provides more realistic, flowing movements for features including the tail and limbs, eyes and even expanding rib cages, in comparison to the ‘jerkiness’ of motorised models.


Longleat were lucky enough to get the dinosaur models direct from the workshop at the Natural History Museum, and they needed to adhere to the high-quality air specification provided. It was essential they met the specification to achieve optimum functionality and reliability, and to minimise contamination to the touring models for future exhibits.

Longleat required a temporary compressed air system for the duration of the exhibition to supply 87cfm of water and dust free compressed air, with discreet pipework to blend in with staging.

It also had to be simple enough for the Attractions Team to operate without any technical knowledge.

And finally, the installation needed to happen prior to the dinosaurs’ delivery and final placement, therefore there needed to be some degree of flexibility.


A meeting was arranged for Ryan and Tim to attend site to discuss the project ahead of submitting the proposal for tender.

Ellis Rees, Product Development Coordinator & Events at Longleat, said:

“I had limited compressed air knowledge before this project, but Direct Air were not patronising at all, in fact they were very engaging. I felt comfortable giving them the specification to let them outline exactly what was necessary, and I was particularly impressed with how detail orientated Tim was.”

“Despite other tenders having previous experience working with animatronics, I just felt an extra reassurance from the Direct Air team, especially how Ryan was willing to go the extra mile. I knew early on I wanted to go with Direct Air, so the cost-benefit was obvious when getting approval from management.”

Want to find out our compressed air solution? Read the full case study on our website:

Chat with us!

Live Chat

Welcome to our microsite, please tell us your name, company and email to chat with a member of the team.