Going on a spotting trip is what most aviation enthusiasts consider a good day out or holiday.
Spending time at an airport you love, or haven’t visited before, can yield lots of great photographs and new registrations in the logbook.
Often when visiting new places it makes sense to look up any other aviation attractions in the area to make the most of your visit. Places like other airports, airfields, aircraft wrecks or aviation museums can add more aircraft to the log and top off any enjoyable trip.
This article looks at some of the best airports you can visit where it’s east to add on an aviation museum at the same time.
One of the best aviation museums attached to an airport is the Steven F Udvar-Hazy Center at Washington Dulles Airport.
This huge museum is an additional site to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum located in downtown Washington DC (which you can also visit not far away) and includes their larger aircraft exhibits and many famous places.
On display are the Discovery Space Shuttle, the prototype Boeing 707 (or 367-80 as it was known), a SR-71 Blackbird, the “Enola Gay” B-29 Superfortress and an Air France Concorde, among many others.
On the western side of Oslo Gardermoen airport in Norway is the Norwegian Armed Forces Aircraft Collection.
This is a great museum in a semi-circular building with many historic aircraft relevant to Norway’s history, including some transport types.
Munich’s Airport loves aviation enthusiasts and provides a spotter Hill near the terminals where you have views of the runways and some of the parking stands.
Also alongside this hill is a small collection of historic airliners to see, including a Douglas DC-3, Lockheed Constellation and Junkers Ju52.
One of the main production hubs for Airbus located in Southern France, Toulouse Blagnac is a big draw for enthusiasts coming to see the latest airliners off the production line.
However, Toulouse is also home to two aviation museums which celebrate the history of Airbus and aviation in France. They are:
A collection of larger aircraft, mainly airliners, from the Airbus stable as well as its predecessors. Includes a Concorde, Caravelle, A300, and Super Guppy.
Les Ailes Anciennes
An outdoor collection of historic aircraft from war and civil use. The largest are a Caravelle and Breguet Deux-Ponts.
Not far from Tucson International airport in southern Arizona is the impressive Pima Air & Space Museum which uses the dry desert air to preserve some important aircraft from the past. Includes a former Air Force One Boeing 707, a Boeing 777, 787 prototype, Caravelle and many more.
A recent addition was the former NASA Boeing 747SP “SOFIA”.
While no aviation museum exists at either of the Beijing airports (Capital and Daxing), many aviation enthusiasts visiting the Chinese city will make time to visit the famous Datangshan (various spellings exist) museum in the city.
In English it’s known as the China Aviation Museum.
This place is huge, with over 200 aircraft on display. These cover everything from fighter jets to Western airliners, including the Hawker Siddeley Trident and Douglas DC-8.
Navigating Beijing’s transport system can be tricky, so it is often worthwhile getting a taxi to and from the museum (you can usually ask your hotel to arrange it).
If you’re visiting Boeing Field in Seattle – where many brand new airliners are test flown and delivered (particularly 737s), you should also visit the incredible Museum of Flight.
Here you can see many of the Boeing airliner prototypes, like the 727-100, 737-100, 747-100 and 787-8.
There are also other types like an Air Force One 707, a British Airways Concorde and hundreds of smaller prop and jet aircraft. It also has great views of the runway!
Paris Le Bourget
Any time you’re spotting in Paris with time to spare, head to Le Bourget airport, where most of the VIP and biz jet movements land.
On site is the Air & Space Museum which displays lots of French aviation history in various halls, including two Concordes!
Outside some of the larger exhibits are on display, like an Airbus A380, Dassault Mercure, Douglas DC-8 and Boeing 747-100.
At the smaller Rand Airport in Johannesburg you’ll find the SAA Museum, which celebrates the history of South African Airways.
Among the collection are two Boeing 747s which, amazingly, landed on the tiny runway strip here once retired from airline service.
There are also other classic types like the Lockheed Constellation and Douglas DC-4, and the airport is active with aircraft too.
You can get here from the main O R Tambo Airport in Johannesburg in about 20 minutes by car, or take public transport or a taxi.
Not far from the terminals at Milan’s Malpensa airport is the nice little Volandia Museum. This displays aircraft important to the history of Italy, with a McDonnell Douglas MD-80 as the largest aircraft.
Right next to the main terminal at Budapest Airport is possibly the best collection of Soviet in display aircraft in Europe.
It includes two Ilyushin Il18s, an Il14, a Tupolev Tu134 and Tu154, a Lisunov Li-2 and two Yakovlev Yak42s.
On the opposite side of the runway at Riga Airport in Latvia is the Riga Aviation Museum. It used to be located next to the terminal, but has now been moved to this new site.
It includes lots of Soviet era jets and helicopters, as well as a Tupolev Tu134 and some airliner cockpits.
Have you visited any of these museums? Are there any other good airport and museum spotting combinations that you would suggest adding? Leave a comment below!
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