Europe’s Aviation Museums
Since the Wright Brothers flew the first aircraft in the world, the
aviation sector has witnessed momentous changes over the years. The
Aviation Museums around the world offer a great understanding of the
history and also showcase the latest technology regarding the aviation.
Europe’s Best Aviation Museums
French Air and Space Museum, Le Bourget, France
One of the most famous aviation museums in the European mainland,
this museum hosts the only remaining part of the ‘White
Bird’, the aircraft used by Charles Nungesser and François
Coli in their unsuccessful attempt to make the first trans-Atlantic
flight from Paris to New York in 1927, two weeks before the historical
flight of Charles Lindbergh. The museum was opened in 1919. It hosts
around 20,000 exhibits including 150 aircrafts. Other major displays
include two Concords, various gliders, missiles and rockets.
Prague Aviation Museum, Czech Republic
The Prague Aviation Museum was established in 1968. The museum,
located at Kbely airport, reflects the rich history of Czech aviation.
Kbely was the first Czechoslovak military airfield, which is still used
by the military and VIP aircrafts. The museum has one of the largest
collections of aircrafts, numbering nearly 275, of which more than
hundred are on display. The major exhibits are the early Czech
aircrafts and Soviet aircrafts which served in the World Wars. Avia
BH-11C L-BONK, CSA Tupolev Tu-104, Praga E-114 Air Baby and Ilyushin
Il-2 Shturmovik are some of the prominent aircrafts on display.
State Aviation Museum of Ukraine, Kiev
Located next to the Zhulyany Airport, Ukraine State Aviation Museum
is noted for its display of Soviet technology. It was opened in 2003,
coinciding with the centenary of aviation history. It boasts of more
than 70 aircrafts, most of which served former Soviet Union and later
Ukraine. The major attractions are world’s first jet airliner
Tupolev-104 and the strategic missile carrier Tu-22M. Numerous
helicopters and naval aircrafts are also displayed here. The
interactive displays, giving the visitors a realistic experience of
riding an aircraft, are also a major feature of the museum.
Imperial War Museum, Duxford, UK
Opened in 1977, this is the largest aviation museum in Britain. It
was actually military airfield till 1961. It played a pivotal role
during the two World Wars. The museum houses about 200 aircrafts and
many military vehicles. There are other exhibits like photographs,
videos and artifacts that give a glimpse of the history of the wars
fought by Britain. It houses the museums of various British Army
regiments as well. Duxford is still an active airfield and hosts air
shows regularly. The museum offers flying lessons to the visitors as
Brooklands Museum, Weybridge, UK
Brooklands was a 4.43 km (2.75-mile) motor racing circuit and
aerodrome built near Weybridge in Surrey, England, United Kingdom. It
opened in 1907 and was the world’s first purpose-built motor racing
circuit as well as one of Britain’s first airfields, which also became
Britain’s largest aircraft manufacturing centre by 1918. The circuit
hosted its last race in 1939 and today part of it forms the Brooklands
Museum, a major aviation and motoring museum, as well as a venue for
vintage car, motorcycle and other transport-related events.
Brooklands Museum houses many historic aircraft including the Vickers Wellington bomber recovered from Loch Ness in 1985, a British Airways Concorde, G-BBDG, the UK’s first production Concorde, and now also owns the 40 percent scale Concorde model “G-CONC” displayed for many years as a gate guardian at Heathrow Airport. After restoration and repainting, the model was relocated for similar duty at Brooklands Museum’s public entrance off Brooklands Drive on 29 September 2012.
National Museum of Flight, Scotland
The National Museum of Flight is Scotland’s national aviation museum
at East Fortune Airfield, just south of the village of East Fortune, in
East Lothian. It is one of the museums within National Museums
Scotland. The museum is housed in the original wartime buildings of RAF
East Fortune which is one of the best preserved wartime airfields in
the UK. As a result of this the entire site is a scheduled ancient
monument with no permanent structures added by the museum. The hangars,
control tower and stores were designated as Category B listed buildings
by Historic Scotland.
The National Museum of Flight is Scotland’s national aviation museum at East Fortune Airfield, just south of the village of East Fortune, in East Lothian. It is one of the museums within National Museums Scotland. The museum is housed in the original wartime buildings of RAF East Fortune which is one of the best preserved wartime airfields in the UK. As a result of this the entire site is a scheduled ancient monument with no permanent structures added by the museum. The hangars, control tower and stores were designated as Category B listed buildings by Historic Scotland.
Aeroscopia Museum, Toulouse, France
Aviation’s past, present and future have come together in
southwestern France with this month’s official opening of the
Aeroscopia museum – which was developed with Airbus support.
Aeroscopia is located adjacent to Toulouse-Blagnac Airport, putting it
in proximity to Airbus’ home location – including the
company’s headquarters and its A380, A350 XWB, A330 and A320
Family final assembly lines. This enables visitors to appreciate
Airbus’ current production activity while exploring aviation
history at Aeroscopia. The museum features a collection of iconic
aircraft displayed in its exhibition hall and paved grounds, including
an A300B – the landmark widebody twin-engine jetliner that
launched Airbus – a “Super Guppy” outsized
transporter used by Airbus to carry aircraft components during the
company’s early days, and an Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde
supersonic passenger airliner.
Luftwaffen Museum, Gatow, Germany
The Luftwaffen Museum of the German Armed Forces located in the
former Gatow military airport has shown the development of the air
force in Germany since 1984. Viewable are military planes, trucks,
helicopters and much more in the hangers, the tower and on the former
runways. Central is Hanger 3 with the permanent exhibition for the
history of military aviation. In the tower, uniforms and gear are
presented, during which, one can gaze onto the exterior grounds at the
more than 100 military planes and helicopters.
Deutsches Museum Flugwerft Schleissheim, Munich
The Deutsches Museum presents another important part of its
collections at Oberschleissheim Airfield in the north of Munich, close
to the old Bavarian palace buildings. The airfield and its historic
buildings were constructed between 1912 and 1919 by the
Königlich-Bayerische Fliegertruppen (Royal Bavarian Flying Corps).
In the early 1990s the historic maintenance hangar was restored and
enlarged with a new exhibition hall and a restoration workshop. The
Flugwerft Schleissheim complements the big aerospace exhibitions in the
main museum in Munich.
Aviodrome, Lelystad, Netherlands
The Nationaal Luchtvaart-Themapark Aviodrome is a large aerospace
museum in the Netherlands that has been located on Lelystad Airport
since 2003. Previously the museum was located at Schiphol Airport. On
the current location, it has three buildings: the main building where
most of the aircraft on display are located and where there’s a
restaurant and a cinema, a replica of the old Schiphol terminal
building from 1928 and a hangar for aircraft storage with limited
access for visitors. Added to the aviation theme were several artifacts
from several Dutch space programs. In doing so the aviation museum
became an aerospace museum.
Space Expo, Noordwijk, Netherlands
The history and future of space travel is the subject of
Noordwijk Space Expo. Many space secrets are revealed here. Scale
models show you what our solar system looks like and where the planets
are located in relation to the earth. There are beautiful satellite
photos of the main cities of the world. There is a space station and a
piece of lunar rock. Free admission.