Thursday, March 13, 2014
Musée de l'Air et de l"Espace (Aviation and Space museum) Paris - Le Bourget
In the Aviation world, Le Bourget is best known for holding the "Paris Airshow" every second year (odd years; next one in 2015). But is also is the home of one of Europe's oldest Aviation museums; the Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace.
More than 30 years ago, it was the first Aviation Museum I ever visited and since that day it has always left an impression on me!
Somewhere halfway between the city of Paris and the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, the museum can be reached by public transport relatively easy. After getting off at the Le Bourget RER train station, one needs to take the nr 152 bus towards the museum.
While most days the museum is free to enter, one can buy a specific ticket to enter some of the aircraft on display; a DC-3, B747, and not one but two Concorde airliners!
An original Morane-Saulnier H from early years of aviation, sits in the arrival/departure hall of the Le Bourget Airport Terminal, which has just been restored to its original Art Deco style.
There is no shortage of historic airplanes at Le Bourget; but one of the most famous ones is the original WWI SPAD VII "Vieux Charles" who once belonged to French Ace George Guynemer. Unfortunately George lost his life in a crash near my home in Belgium (Poelkappele) in September 1917.
Beside the actual aircraft, there are also a lot of aviation memorabilia; the most famous one is the landing gear of "L'Oiseau Blanc" (The White Bird); a Levasseur PL8 which took off from Le Bourget in 1927 in an attempt to be the first to cross the North Atlantic. The aircraft dropped its landing gear as planned after take-off but was never to be seen again after it left the mainland of Europe. It still is missing to this day!
One of the things I still clearly remember from my first visit over 30 years ago, is the collection of "early jet prototypes". While trying to shoot a nice overview of these bizar looking aircraft, I spotted this little boy admiring the Triton; France's first jet aircraft. Kind of like a deja-vue and an emotional moment!
When we think about big developments in Aviation, we tend to only include the US; but a visit to the Air and Space museum in Paris, clearly shows the role France has played in these interesting days. This mini-delta jet, was the ground breaker for all delta aircraft, including the successful Mirage.
Even though it had been a long time since my last visit, the Musée de L'Air et de l'Espace remains in the top 5 of my Aviation Museums worldwide!
Unfortunately only in French, but more info can be found at the Musée de L'Air et de L'Espace website.