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. Here is a list of the top ten Aviation Museums in the world.
10 Best Aviation Museums in the World
10. Pima Air and Space Museum, Arizona
You can meet the Starr Bumble Bee, world’s smallest biplane and the SR-71 Blackbird, world’s fastest spy plane, here. Pima museum is one of the largest privately funded aviation museums in the world, established in 1976. Spread over an area of 127 acres, the museum has a collection of over 300 aircrafts. The major exhibits include Presidential plane used by John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson and replicas of the Wright brothers’ 1903 Wright Flyer and the X-15, the world’s fastest aircraft. The museum has the biggest aircraft restoration facility in the world and is home to the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame.
9. Central Air Force Museum, Monino
With a display of 173 aircrafts, The Central Air Force Museum is one of the largest aviation museums in the world. Located at Monino Airfield, the museum was established in 1958, although the public was allowed only from 1999. It gives a glimpse of the history of evolution of aviation in Russia. The chief exhibits include aircrafts such as MiGs, Sukhoi planes, Tu-142 bombers, Tu-22 bombers, Petliakov Pe-2 bombers and a Tu-144 supersonic passenger plane. In addition, there are numerous aircraft engines, weapons, spy equipment, uniforms, ground equipment, videos, documents and photographs on display.
8. Canada Aviation and Space Museum, Ottawa
At the 8th spot in the list of top aviation museums, we have Canada Aviation and Space Museum. It was established in 1964 at the Ottawa airport. The museum houses an impressive collection of over 130 aircrafts from around the world. The chief exhibits include Canadarm, the Canadian made part of Space Shuttle Endeavor, the vintage bush-planes from 1920s and Canada’s military aircrafts which took part in the world wars. Visitors have opportunity to see the maintenance works directly.
7. China Aviation Museum, Beijing
Boasting of more than 200 aircrafts across different models, the China Aviation Museum is the best of its kind in Asia. Located near the Xiao Tang Hill, it was opened in 1989. An amazing aspect of the museum is that a major part of it is located inside a cave on the side of the hill. The prominent attractions include a replica of the ‘Wright Flyer, former Chinese Premier Mao Zedung’s personal aircraft. A number of World War II aircrafts and Chinese aircrafts are on display as well. There are also various weapons, bombs and radar systems on display.
6. French Air and Space Museum, Le Bourget
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.
5. Prague Aviation Museum, Kbely
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.
4. 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.
3. Imperial War Museum, Duxford
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 well.
2. National Museum of the United States Air Force, Ohio
Situated at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, it is the largest and oldest military aviation museum in the world. It was opened in 1923 and is the official museum of the United States Air Force. The museum houses around 360 aircrafts and numerous missiles, making it one of the largest collections in the world. There are several presidential aircrafts on display, including the one that took JF Kennedy to Dallas on the day of his assassination. Another prominent attraction is the B-29 Superfortress that dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki. More than one million people visit the museum every year.
1. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.
Visited by approximately 7 million people every year, the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum is the first in our list of world’s best an most amazing Aviation Museums. Opened in 1946, it has the largest collection of aircrafts in the world. It is located at National Mall, Washington. The first ever airplane, the Wright Flyer, made by the Wright Brothers, and the Appolo 11 command module Colombia are the major attractions in this museum. The museum also showcases many other aircrafts and spacecrafts like Spirit of St. Louis and SpaceshipOne. Apart from that, there are around 60,000 exhibits, 14,000 videos and nearly 2 million photographs that shed light on the history of aviation. The museum operates a companion facility named Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles International Airport, which was opened in 2003. It houses major crafts like Space Shuttle Discovery, the Winnie Mae and the bomber ‘Enola Gay’, which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima during World War II.
Written By: Nikhil Rajagopalan