The Museum of Air and Space in Paris

The Museum of Air and Space (fr. Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace) is the oldest aeronautics museum around today. Originally built at Chalais-Meudon, it is now located at Bourget Airport. It features a huge collection of around 150 airplanes on display, from the very first aeroplanes to the Breguet 19 “Point d’Interrogation”, the Spitfire and Concorde. It also includes two model of Ariane rockets. After seeing this museum, i want to go to Washington to see a Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and Kennedy Space Centre. Ok, back to France. Access to museum is not that easy. Beside the taxi, one can take the bus (nr. 350 from Gare de l’Est – two metro tickets!) or metro line nr. 7 (station La Courneuve) and bus 152. Usually both options take quite a long time. What i have seen, entry is free, unless you want to go to the inside of the four airplanes (forfait avions, 9 EUR in 2018) or do some other special activities (simulator or etc.). I went there during the week and at 11am there were not many people around. I had interiors of the planes for myself 🙂

The museum has the only known remaining piece — the jettisoned main landing gear — of the L’Oiseau Blanc (The White Bird), the 1927 aircraft which attempted to make the first Transatlantic crossing from Paris to New York. On May 8, 1927, Charles Nungesser and François Coli aboard L’Oiseau blanc, a 450-hp Lorraine-powered Levasseur biplane [2] took off from Le Bourget. The aircraft jettisoned its main landing gear (which is stored at the museum), which it was designed to do as part of its trans-Atlantic flight profile, but then disappeared over the Atlantic, only two weeks before Lindbergh’s monoplane completed its successful non-stop trans-Atlantic flight to Le Bourget from the United States.

A visitor can visit the inside of four airplanes.

A Douglas C-47 Skytrain, which was used extensively by the Allies during World War II and remains in front line service with various military operators. The C-47 differed from the civilian DC-3 in numerous modifications, including being fitted with a cargo door, hoist attachment, and strengthened floor, along with a shortened tail cone for glider-towing shackles, and an astrodome in the cabin roof.

On the tarmac behind the museum there is a large Boeing 747-100. This model was originally launched in 1966, when the upper floor (with six upper deck windows (three per side)) was mainly to accommodate a lounge area. I have flown upstairs with KLM 747-400 Combi, which has much larger upstairs area, occupied with business class. But what I found especially interesting with the displayed plane was the fact that they cross-cut it to show the hidden areas.

The highlight are probably (for me as an aviation geek) are two Concordes. Side by side. One is the first prototype (001) and was later modified with rooftop portholes for use on the 1973 Solar Eclipse mission and equipped with observation instruments. It performed the longest observation of a solar eclipse to date, about 74 minutes. The other is an airplane from an Air France regular service. They’re both a reminder of the technical achievement that united the British and French. But for a regular traveler it was mostly a very fast airplane – it flew with a speed of around 2253 km/h, with which flying was expensive and the it hold maximum 100 passengers. Of course they were treated with premium service, but in general, space was relatively tight and windows were much smaller than on usual airplanes. Its ultra-slim body and drooped nose gave the Concorde a look more akin to a military jet or space shuttle than a standard commercial airliner.

One section of the museum is dedicated to space. A little bit darker feel (i guess space is dark) and whole a lot of interesting stuff. Even more interesting, majority of stuff is either of russian or european origin, as there is very little NASA stuff.