An Insider’s Guide to China Aviation Museum
If you are into your aviation, you’re in luck, as Beijing has a wealth of plane-centric attractions that offer a further insight into this nation’s fascinating history up in the skies — a trip 40 kilometers from Beijing to the China Aviation Museum is highly recommended.
The museum, which opened its doors in 1989 was built to celebrate the 40 year history of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force.
Making any trip to the museum even more fascinating is the fact that some of the exhibits are housed in a cave in the Datangshan Mountains. This cave was part of a tunnel system that formed part of the Shahe Airbase and was used to protect fighter aircraft from aerial bombardment.
The cave is enormous – around 5 acres in total. This is only a fraction of the total area of the museum grounds which cover around 1000 acres.
At the Museum, you can:
- Get an up-close look at historic aircraft dating back to the 1950s
- Get a good knowledge of Soviet-built Wave -2, La -9, La-11, Yak -17
- See the original research materials and participate in many aviation activities
- Host events in a distinctive setting that offers historic glamour and modern appeal
- Buy unique aviation souvenirs
A visit to the museum provides enough fun and educational experiences to warrant setting aside a whole day to explore.
The museum is divided into three sections. the first of these is the tunnel / cave section, the second is the ‘flight lane section’ and them there is the third which houses the rest of the outdoor exhibits.
Cavern Exhibition Area
In the cavern section the visitor can learn more about the history of flight and the part played by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, as well as view exhibits on weapons systems and radar installations. For anyone with an interest in either Cold War history or military aviation the cavern is an absolute delight.
The visitor is walked through the history of flight by chronological order of the exhibits – from the very early days of powered flight to to the jet age. The exhibits are not only China centric. There are models of aircraft from all over the world including the former Soviet union, the United States, Canada, Japan, France and many more.
Open-air Exhibition Area
The second area is in two parts which are divided by ‘Hero Avenue’. In one section (on the left of Hero Avenue and dominated by a large artificial lake)the visitor can view aircraft which were used by dignitaries. The other part of this area houses bombers and other specialized aircraft.
On the right side of Hero Avenue are numerous exhibits including fighter aircraft, cargo planes, missile batteries, helicopters and radar installations.
Continuing down Hero Avenue brings the visitor to the third section of the museum – the ‘Integrated hall’. Here further exhibits of models including 550 aircraft, cultural relics and audio as well as video content can be enjoyed.
Those wishing to visit the museum are advised to wear comfortable walking shoes, although there are a number of golf carts available. Also bring snacks. There are some restaurants outside the entrance to the museum for those who want a sit down dining experience.
The China Aviation Museum is a fun and educational day out – it should not be missed.
Dominating one side of the museum entrance is an enormous stone monument dedicated to the founding of the air force. It is guarded by soldiers who keep an eye on the eternal flame which burns there.
The museum is today recognized as one of the best aircraft and aviation museums in the world. It’s no wonder when one considers that it is home to over 200 aircraft.