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Polish Aviation Museum, Kraków - Part 1

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In August I had an opportunity to visit the Kraków Aviation Museum in Poland. Unfortunately, due to some private and professional matters, it took me some time to take care with of all the pictures and prepare everything to be published. The Museum in Kraków is the only museum of this type in my country. In this and following features I hope to take you on tour through the museum exhibitions. In the forthcoming weeks we will be publishing on Aeroscale other features and galleries of specific exhibitions, just like they are displayed in real Museum.

First, just few words about the historical background. The Museum is located the Rakowice-Czyżyny, a district of the present City of Kraków, it was a separate village near Kraków. It is one of the oldest airfields in Europe. The aerial history of this place had started a hundred years ago when the Austro-Hungarian army detached here the balloon observation unit of Garrison Artillery 2nd Regiment of Fortress Kraków. The airfield was taken over by Poles on 30/31 October 1918 (what a coincidence with the publication date of this feature!) and became a home of aviation schools and combat squadrons of the Polish Air Force. After the Second World War the airfield lost its importance due to the growth of the city and nearby steel works which encircled the runway. The Air Force moved to Balice (which today is an important international airport) and finally left Czyżyny in 1963. A year ago in the same place another piece of history started – this time the history of the Aviation Museum.

We start the tour in the main building. After many years the Museum has finally got a proper and modern place which can be its showcase. In the bird's-eye view the building resembles a rotating three-blade propeller. The build was started in 2008, finished a year ago and on 18th September 2010 was officially opened to the public. When we visit the Museum we have to get through this building. Inside we find 21 airplanes (including a few that are very important for the history of Polish aviation), temporary exhibitions, administrative offices, coffee shop, cinema for 50 people with the comfortable airliner-style seats, a library, multi-media stands and a shop with some souvenirs and memorabilia, books and model kits. Everything is located in three big, glass-walled halls.

You probably want to know what flying stuff we can see inside. OK, here's what I've seen. There are of course few polish planes. These are a PZL P-11c, RWD-13 and RWD-21. You can also find an Albatros B.II and Fouga Magister. When we look up we can see a Bücker Bü 131 B Jungmann, Bleriot XI, an IS-6X Nietoperz (Bat) experimental polish glider, an IS-4 glider, Lillenthal's hang glider and a powered hang glider. In this hall you can also find many other interesting exhibits. One of them is the PZL Pegaz XX engine (a licensed production of Bristol Pegasus XX) – the engine from the PZL-39 Łoś bomber. What's very interesting is that the engine is in its original, pre-war condition. On the pictures you will be able to see few wooden crates about 2m tall. These are multi-media display stands of the temporary exhibition “Frank Piasecki and other Polish aviation designers”. In other hall you can see the cut-away fuselage if the TS-11 “Iskra” - a Polish training jet designed in the early 60's. Next to the “Iskra” fuselage stands a cutaway jet engine – it was very interesting even to the old guy like me to almost stick my nose inside the turbine, compressor, combustion chamber or nozzle. The same hall houses the aerial cinema, flight simulator, a few engines and the airframe of the Stinson L-5 Sentinel. The third wing of the Main Building houses the administrative offices and, except for the shop, there's nothing interesting to see.

I encourage you to visit the Museum website for more pictures of the Main Building, including few bird's-eye views. You'll also find there some interesting in-progress shots of the building, a large gallery from the official opening and galleries from other events in the Museum. The address of the Main Building gallery is: http://www.muzeumlotnictwa.pl/gmach_muzeum/galeria.php

Ok, that's enough of my babble. Pictures will tell you the rest about the building and exhibition.
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About the Author

About Mecenas
FROM: KATOWICE, POLAND


Comments

Thank You Michal for sharing your fotos. A very nice looking building housing a great collection. I am impressed with the collection of early aviation planes ! Thank you again ! Tom
OCT 29, 2011 - 05:54 AM
Many thanks Tom. If you're interested in the early planes stay tuned for next parts, there will be at least two more with "spruce and linen" and some plywood.
OCT 29, 2011 - 06:10 AM