Most important aviation museums in the world


Throughout the planet, we find countless museums of aeronautics and astronautics that illustrate the history and current affairs of the aviation world in all its forms.

In Spain we can find several outstanding aircraft museums. They show the history and culture of the aeronautical and aviation world in our country, through original models, replicas, pieces, sketches, videos and photographs that, from the first moment,  take the visitor deep into this exciting world.

Most remarkable aviation museums in Spain

The most important aeronautical museums in Spain are:

🇪🇸 Museum of Aeronautics and Astronautics (Cuatro Vientos)

Museo de la Aeronáutica y Astronáutica (Cuatro vientos)

Opened in 1981 in Madrid, this aeronautical museum is located in the air base of Cuatro Vientos. Its main purpose is the acquisition, conservation and exhibition of the goods which constitute the Historical Heritage of the Spanish Aeronautics. Due to its great number of aircrafts, it is ranked among the top five aeronautics museums in Europe.

It has an outdoor exhibition and seven hangars housing about thirty aircrafts and several helicopters, uniforms, decorations, engines, models and other objects related to aviation.

After the Civil War, and once the Air Force was created, the idea of creating a museum that would reflect the evolution and history of Spanish aeronautics was created. Its creation act was signed in 1966.

At first, the exhibition of objects, models and historical documents was thought to be placed in the halls of the ground floor of the air ministry, in the Plaza de la Moncloa, and the few aircrafts available at that moment were to be shown in one of the courtyards. But the acquisition or donation of a series of historical aircrafts changed this first plan in 1969. Finally, the Cuatro Vientos Airfield was the spot chosen, and the hangar of the first School of Aeronautical Engineers (now the Air Force Broadcasting School) the place where all the existing air material was moved.

Since its opening, some enlargements and improvements have been carried out, in 1993 and 2003.

Address: Autovía de Suroeste, Km 10,700;  28024 Madrid. Telephone: 915095644.

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 14:00. Free admission.

🇪🇸 Málaga Aeronautical Museum

Museo aeronáutico de Málaga

This museum, opened in 2009, is located next to the general aviation terminal of the Málaga International Airport, next to the San Miguel factory. Thanks to the work developed by the Association of Aeroplaza Friends, in it we can discover many things about the history of aviation in the province.

The museum has an exhibition with several aircrafts that can be visited inside on request. Among some of the airplanes we can see are: Convair 440; Douglas DC3, Macdonnell Douglas DC9, Beechcraft 18, Bell47 or DeHavilland Dove.  It has different rooms, including an educational room for children and a recreation of the first airport in Málaga.

When entering,  visitors receive a map and can visit anything they want without time limit. Likewise, the museum has a high demand for guided school tours throughout the school year.

In addition to the usual opening hours, special events are held along the year such as the arrival of the Three Magic Kings, Finland Day, Britain Day, Spotters Day, White Night, Alternating in the Move, etc.

Address: Av. del Comandante García Morato, s/n, 29004, Málaga. Phone: 952048176.

Opening hours: Tuesday from 10:00 to 20:00; Wednesday to Saturday from 10:00 to 14:00; Sunday and Monday closed. Free admission.

🇪🇸 Lanzarote Aeronautical Museum

Museo aeronáutico de Lanzarote

Located in the first terminal of Lanzarote airport, the Museo Aeronáutico de Lanzarote offers  an exciting journey through the history of aviation on the island and how it influenced its development.

In the exhibition you can see photographs and documents of the first planes in the island,  portraits which  record that, during the forties, traveling by plane was a real adventure only for the bravest. It wasn’t until 1946 that Lanzarote would welcome the first commercial plane, a Junker 52 with a ramshackle appearance and barely two passengers on board.

In addition to photographs and explanatory panels, the exhibition shows different pieces such as the first telephones, old navigation charts, wind speed meters, peculiar scales or rudimentary operating boarding belts.

Address: Lanzarote Airport. Free admission.

Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 10:00 to 14:00.

Contact: 928 846 365;

🇪🇸 Infante de Orleans Foundation (FIO)

Fundación Infante de Orleans (FIO)

It is, also, worth mentioning the Fundación Infante de Orleans (FIO) – a museum of historic aircrafts in flight that dates back to 1984, when a group of aviation professionals created the Historic Aircrafts Section of the Aeroclub Jose Luis Aresti. To consolidate this initiative, the Foundation was established in 1989 with the aim of bringing together the largest collection of aircrafts with an important role in the development of Spanish aeronautics.

At present, the Foundation’s aircrafts collection gathers 43 units of 32 different models, representing a very important period of our aeronautical history, in perfect flight conditions. A year after being created, in 1990, the FIO chose  Madrid-Cuatro Vientos Airport as its headquarters for it is an aerodrome for private air traffic operations, near Madrid and it is where  the Museum of Aeronautics and Astronautics of Spain is established .

The aim of the FIO, in addition to bringing historic Spanish aircrafts to the general public, is to keep them in flight. For this reason, exhibitions are held periodically.

Upcoming exhibitions: February 5, 2023 – March 5, 2023 – April 2, 2023. 

Every month, on the first Sunday, you can enjoy watching the largest collection of historic aircrafts in flight.

The ticket fee is a contribution to the maintenance of the FIO’s Museum of Historic Aircrafts in Flight.

General admission: 10€; Children (5-12 years): 5€, under 5: free; Over 65: 5€; Disabled: free; Large family (general) 7€, large family (5-12 years): 3’5€. 

Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 14:00

Outside our borders, there are also a large number of museums dedicated to this exciting world. Here are some of the best.

Best international aviation museums

🇺🇸 Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington D.C.

Museo Nacional del Aire y del Espacio de Smithsonian, Washington D.C.

The National Air and Space Museum of the United States Smithsonian Institute, opened in 1976. It contains the largest collection of aircrafts and spacecrafts in the world.  It is one of the most popular aeronautical museums worldwide. Admission is free but it is necessary to book in advance as its capacity is limited.

Address: 600 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560, USA.

Hours: from 10:00 to 17:30, every day except December 25.

🇫🇷 Paris Air and Space Museum

Museo del Aire y el Espacio de París

Located in the southeast corner of Le Bourguet airport, in the commune of Le Bourguet, near Paris. Created in 1919, it is the oldest aviation museum in the world. It is also the largest aeronautical museum in Europe, with 12 thematic areas that review the complete history of aviation, recreating one of the most exciting human adventures of the twentieth century: the conquest of the sky. 

Address: 3, esplanade de l’Air te de l’Espace BP 173-93352, Le Bourget CEDEX.

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday. Closed Monday. December 25th and January 1st, closed. The opening hours vary according to the season:

  • From 1 October to 30 March: from 10:00 to 17:00.
  • From March 31 to September 30: from 10:00 to 18:00.

🇺🇸 Future Aviation Center and Boeing Factory, Seattle

Centro de Aviación del futuro y fábrica de Boeing

At the Future of Flight Aviation Center, visitors will learn about the history and future of aviation design. The tour around the Boeing factory is a unique opportunity to witness a jet assembly; see the 747, 767, 777 and 787 Dreamliner aircrafts as they are built; learn the history of Boeing aircrafts and test your own one. The visit to the Boeing factory is a very popular attraction for tourists in Seattle as it allows to witness  an aircraft manufacturing.

In this center, you can enjoy interactive activities in the Aircraft Design area; take a virtual tour in the flight cabin of a 787; peek inside a jet engine and visit the Gallery of the Aviation Center to modify, test and finish the design of your own plane on touch screen computers before printing the final outline that you can take home as a souvenir!

Address: 8415 Paine Field Blvd, Mukilteo, WA, 98275. Opening hours: 8:30 to 17:30.

🇦🇹 Hangar 7, Salzburg

Hangar 7, Salzburgo

Hangar 7 at Salzburg Airport is a unique architectural synthesis of arts. It houses a large collection of historic Flying Bulls aircrafts. The Flying Bulls of Salzburg are dedicated to the art of finding historic aircrafts and restoring them to give them wings again. The most special feature of the historic Flying Bulls collection is that, regardless of their age, all aircrafts are fit to fly. Opened in 2003, Hangar-7, ever since it was planned, tried to translate the aviation world into architecture and so create a unique space.

Opening hours: every day from 9 to 22h. Free admission.

Guided tours for groups, on request. Dogs allowed in the exhibition area and in the Carpe Diem Lounge-Café.

Address: Red Bull Hangar-7 GmbH
Wilhelm-Spazier-Straße 7a
5020 Salzburg

Telephone: +4366221970. 

🇬🇧 Royal Air Force Museum, Cosford

Museo de la Real Fuerza Aérea Británica de Cosford

This museum (commonly called “Cosford”) opened in May 1979, is dedicated to the history of aviation, and the Royal Air Force in particular. The Royal Air Force Museum has two locations in England. One is located at the Royal Air Force Museum in London at Colindale (near Hendon) north London. The other is located near the village of Cosford in Shropshire, United Kingdom.

In this museum you can visit the National Cold War Exhibition with its striking architecture and design. Discover Cold War stories in immersive hot spots; explore exciting displays of aircrafts, iconic cars, models, tanks and even life-size Russian dolls. Admire the world’s oldest Spitfire and other classic war planes in the air hangar and even be a pilot for a day inside a simulator!

Address: RAF Museum Midlands,
Lysander Avenue,
Cosford, TF11 8UP

Contact : +01902376200;

Opening hours: every day from 10.00am – 4.00pm. Closes 25 and 26 December. Free admission.

As you can see, there is a wide offer of interesting aeronautical museums. Find yours and immerse yourself in the exciting history of aviation!

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