Text: Serge Van Heertum - Pictures: Philippe Decock, Jacques Vincent & Roland Neetens - Translation: David Niemegeerts © sbap 2016

In 1939, the civil war that shook Spain since 1936, opposing the Republicans and the nationalists, ended, and it was at that moment that the Spanish Air Force was born. The minister dedicated to aviation gave a mission to Colonel Fernández Ugarte Tarsilo to set up an aviation museum project to preserve the history of aviation, but above all to preserve the planes that took part in the dark pages of the Spanish history. But it would eventually take 27 years to see the outcome of this project. During these 27 years, other studies or projects were carried out without real success. In 1948, a plan was made to reserve the ground floor of the brand new building of the Ministry of Air. The project did not succeed, and in the meantime this building has become the headquarters of Fuerza Aera Espagnola.
It was on June 16, 1966, following decree n° 1437 that the "Museo Del Aire" was officially created and the aim was to exhibit and showcase Aircraft, Materials and historical documents, in particular in the inner courtyard of the Ministry of the Airforce. Once again the project failed, the space being too small and certain of the preserved aircraft had too great of a historical value to be left outside. This was the case for the Vilanova Acedo (a Spanish version of Bleriot XI) or the Rapid Dragon that brought General Francisco Franco from Gran Canarias to Tetuan. The other difficulty was the preservation of large aircraft, such as Heinkel He-111, Junkers J-52 or Douglas DC-3.
It soon turned out that in order to create a museum, it had to have its own space and not interfere in official buildings.
Several places were highlighted, such as the university of the city of Madrid, a place called Casa de Campo, the solar crypt of the Moncloa square, or the historical part of the airport of Madrid-Barajas, considered as the cradle of the Spanish aviation, and better known under the name of "Cuatro Vientos". It is obviously the latter that was chosen in all logic.

The development of the museum
It was in 1975 that the decision was made to occupy this place, and the choice for this site was driven by various factors, such as the proximity to the capital Madrid, the airport tracks allowing to bring in certain airplanes by air, the proximity of the maintenance workshops of the Spanish Air Force, and of course the historical aspect of the location. Let's not forget that it was in the existing hangars that Emilio Herrera created the first school of air engineers, which outlined the future of the current school of aeronautical engineering.
The works itself started at the end of 1979, with a garden for the planes, but also two small water basins to expose the Dornier 24 and the Grummann Albatros.
The Museo Del Aire was officially inaugurated on 24 May 1981, by Lieutenant-General Emiliano Alfaro Jose Arregui.
Over the years, the number of planes exposed had more than doubled, obliging the leaders to remove the vegetation and to clean the two ponds which were problematic not only for the space available, but also to facilitate the maneuvering of the planes onto and into the site. In addition, the water bodies and vegetation attracted many birds such as the Argentinian Cockatoo, which caused an enormous amount of damage to the structures of the exposed planes.
Since the beginning of this adventure, a dozen or so engines, flags, models, weapons, uniforms or historical documents of all kinds had been collected, making this museum a gold mine of Spanish aviation.
In 1993, two new hangars were added, and even two more in 2002. Among these new hangars, there is n° 4, which was inaugurated on 22 August 2003, which is entirely dedicated to rotating wings and other autogiros, machines whose origins came directly from Spain, sprouting from the genius of Juan De La Cierva. With these new hangars, the Museo Del Aire has crept into the Top 5 European museums.
The Museo Del Aire occupies an area of 66.938m², divided between 7 exhibition sheds and the open air exhibition. There are more than a hundred aircraft that are on exposition, including a certain number of exceptional rarity. Particularly noteworthy are the Villanova Acedo, the oldest aircraft preserved in Spain, the Breguet XIX "Jesus del Gran Poder" which crossed the South Atlantic in 1929, the bomber of German origin Heinkel He 111 E1 and The Cierva C.19 autogyro which flew for the first time in 1932.
Like any self-respecting museum, the facilities include a cafeteria and an essential souvenir shop to remember the visit, and a shop to complete our libraries, or the collection dedicated to the Spanish Air Force.

What can we see ...

Hangar 1: This shed traces the history of Balloons and Hot Air Balloons, Early Aircraft, The War of Morocco, Great Raids and Spanish Civil War. A room is also devoted to the heroes of the Spanish aviation and the flags of the air units.

Hangar 2: Offers a variety of engines, simulators, aeronautical equipment and uniforms.

Hangar 3: You can find training planes, fighters of the Spanish war, post-war fighters, gliders and an incredible collection of propellers and engines. Also in Hangar # 3 is the "Friends of the Air Museum of Volunteers" office.

Hangar 4: It is the hangar dedicated to helicopters and autogiros with, among others, two magnificent La Cierva, or the amazing Aerotechnica AC12 and AC-14. The hangar is also home to a collection of flight instruments.

Hangar 5: It houses various Spanish Air Force aircraft including the famous General Franco's Dragon Rapide, or the two versions of the local jet, the Saeta and the Super Saeta. One part is dedicated to air sports and parachuting.

Hangar 6: This hangar is dedicated mainly to restoration. Currently, it is the Dornier 24 that gets a new skin. It is also possible to visit the cockpits of a DC-9 and a Boeing B-727 both of which belonged to the company Iberia.

Hangar 7: This last shed contains a collection of more than 100 models on a 1:10 scale and a collection of conventional models representing the history of Iberian aviation.

General D. Pedro Vives Vish Spanish aviation founder
(© Philippe Decock)
The Spanish Civil War pilots memorial
(© Philippe Decock)
The beginning: Gas balloon (© Philippe Decock)
Caudron G-3  (© Philippe Decock) Wright Flyer I  (© Jacques Vincent)
Vilanova Acedo (Bleriot XI)  (© Jacques Vincent) Nieuport IV-G  (© Roland Neetens)
Brunet Olivert  (© Jacques Vincent) Otto Lilienthal glider  (© Jacques Vincent)
Morane Saulnier type G  (© Roland Neetens) Fokker C-III  (© Roland Neetens)
Dornier Wal  (© Roland Neetens) Bristol F-2B Fighter  (© Roland Neetens)
De Havilland DH-4  (© Roland Neetens) Avro 504 K  (© Roland Neetens)
CASA Breguet XIX (Jesús del Gran Poder)  (© Roland Neetens) Heinkel HE-111 E-1  (© Roland Neetens)
CASA C-2 111-H-16-L  (© Roland Neetens) Comper Swift (Ciudad de Manila)  (© Roland Neetens)
CASA Breguet XIX (Cuatro Vientos)  (© Roland Neetens) British Aircraft Eagle 2 Santander  (© Roland Neetens)
Farman 402  (© Roland Neetens) Miles Hawk MK III Trainer  (© Roland Neetens)
Morane Saulnier MS-230  (© Roland Neetens) Klemm L-25  (© Roland Neetens)
Hispano Suiza 9QD  (© Jacques Vincent) Hispano Suiza 14AA  (© Jacques Vincent)
Garret TPE 33-1-5-501-c  (© Jacques Vincent) Daimler Benz DB-601  (© Jacques Vincent)
Atar 9C  (© Jacques Vincent) Klimov VK-1  (© Jacques Vincent)
De Havilland Goblin  (© Jacques Vincent) Pratt & Withney JT8D-9A  (© Jacques Vincent)
SEPR G-84-1-844  (© Jacques Vincent) Mirage III rocket booster  (© Jacques Vincent)
Air to Surface torpedo  (© Jacques Vincent) Air to Air target pod  (© Jacques Vincent)
Early hours bombs  (© Jacques Vincent) Matra R530 short range air-to-air missile  (© Philippe Decock)
Expal BR-125 A bomb  (© Jacques Vincent) Napalm bomb BLU-1B  (© Philippe Decock)
Exercice Mk82 bomb  (© Jacques Vincent) Nuclear weapon  (© Jacques Vincent)
Nuclear B-52 crash at Almeria in 1966   (© Philippe Decock)
North American F-86  AC Simulator  (© Philippe Decock) The simplified cockpit  (© Philippe Decock)
Douglas DC-4 simulator  (© Jacques Vincent) DC-4 overhead panel  (© Jacques Vincent)
Mc Donnell Douglas F-4C simulator  (© Philippe Decock) Mc Donnell Douglas F-4C simulator control panels  (© Jacques Vincent)
Spanish civil war  (© Philippe Decock) CASA assembly line  (© Philippe Decock)
Douglas DC-3  (© Philippe Decock) Lockheed F-104G Starfighter  (© Philippe Decock)
AISA Unmanned Aerial Vehicle  (© Jacques Vincent) INTA Unmanned Aerial Vehicle  (© Jacques Vincent)
Aviacion Generale SIAP experimental  (© Jacques Vincent) Bücker BÜ-131 Jungmann didactic  (© Jacques Vincent)
AISA I-11B Peque Vespa didactic  (© Jacques Vincent) Stinson 108 didactic  (© Jacques Vincent)
Fokker DR-1  (© Jacques Vincent) Fieseler FI156-A Storch  (© Philippe Decock)
Caudron C-272 Luciole left side...  (© Philippe Decock) ...and right side  (© Jacques Vincent)
De Havilland DH82A Tiger Moth  (© Jacques Vincent) Hispano Suiza H-S-34  (© Jacques Vincent)
Hispaño Aviación HA-1109 H-1L Tripala  (© Jacques Vincent) De Havilland DH-60 GIII Moth Major  (© Jacques Vincent)
Stampe SV-4c  (© Jacques Vincent) Hispaño Aviación 1112 ML Buchon  (© Jacques Vincent)
Bücker BÜ-131 Jungmann  (© Roland Neetens) AISA HM-1B Huarte Medicoa  (© Jacques Vincent)
De Havilland DH-87A Hornet Moth  (© Jacques Vincent) AISA I-115 Garrapata  (© Jacques Vincent)
Morane Saulnier MS-181  (© Jacques Vincent) FIAT CR-32 Chirri  (© Philippe Decock)
Polikarpov I-16 Mosca-Rata left side...  (© Philippe Decock) ...and right side  (© Philippe Decock)
Polikarpov I-15 Chato left side...  (© Philippe Decock) ...and right side  (© Philippe Decock)
Stinson C-108 Voyager  (© Jacques Vincent) Messerschmitt ME-108 Taifun  (© Jacques Vincent)
Dornier DO-28 A-1  (© Jacques Vincent) Cessna L-19 Bird Dog  (© Jacques Vincent)
Augusta Bell 47-G2  (© Philippe Decock) Beechcraft T-34A Mentor  (© Jacques Vincent)
AISA I-11B Peque Vespa  (© Jacques Vincent) Bücker BÜ-133 Jungmeister  (© Jacques Vincent)
MBB 223 Flamingo  (© Jacques Vincent) Aisa/Schneider SG-38 Schulgleiter  (© Jacques Vincent)
Fauvel Monobloc AV-361  (© Jacques Vincent) Slingsby T-34  (© Jacques Vincent)
Grunau Baby  (© Jacques Vincent) Schleicher Ka-6 Rhonsegler  (© Jacques Vincent)
Plavia Gurripato II  (© Jacques Vincent) AISA Weihe  (© Jacques Vincent)
LET L 13M Blanik  (© Jacques Vincent) Slingsby T-45 Swallow  (© Jacques Vincent)
AISA Kranich II  (© Jacques Vincent) AISA Kranich III  (© Jacques Vincent)
Henri Potez 6B  (© Jacques Vincent) Henri Potez 6BA  (© Jacques Vincent)
Piaggio P-VII-C  (© Jacques Vincent) Hirth HM 504 A2  (© Jacques Vincent)
Elizade Tigre G-IV-A  (© Jacques Vincent) Franklin 335-6A4-165-B3  (© Jacques Vincent)
Bramo Falnir 323 R2  (© Jacques Vincent) BMW 801 D2  (© Jacques Vincent)
La Cierva C-6  (© Jacques Vincent)
La Cierva C-19MK-4P  (© Jacques Vincent) La Cierva C-30  (© Philippe Decock)
Aerotecnica AC-12 Pepo  (© Philippe Decock) Aerotecnica AC-14  (© Philippe Decock)
Sikorky S-55  (© Jacques Vincent) Agusta Bell AB-206 Jet Ranger  (© Jacques Vincent)
Hughes-300 HE-20 Osage  (© Roland Neetens) Aerospatiale SA-319B Alouette III  (© Jacques Vincent)
Aerospatiale SA-318C Alouette II  (© Jacques Vincent) Bell-47 OH-13H Sioux  (© Jacques Vincent)
La Cierva C-4 model  (© Jacques Vincent) La Cierva Autogiro models  (© Jacques Vincent)
De Haviland DH-89  (© Jacques Vincent) De Haviland DH-89A Dragon Rapide  (© Jacques Vincent)
North American T-6D Texan  (© Philippe Decock) Noth American F-86F Sabre  (© Jacques Vincent)
Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star  (© Philippe Decock) Hispaño Aviación HA-220 Super Saeta  (© Philippe Decock)
Hispaño Aviación HA-200 R-1 Saeta  (© Jacques Vincent) North American T-6D Texan  (© Philippe Decock)
Air to ground weapons on the T-6D Texan  (© Jacques Vincent) Hirth Acrostar  (© Jacques Vincent)
Zlin Z-526-A Akrobat  (© Philippe Decock) Zlin 326 Trener Master  (© Philippe Decock)
Vogt Lo-100 Zwergreiher  (© Jacques Vincent) Consolidated Fleet 2  (© Jacques Vincent)
Long-EZ  (© Jacques Vincent) Light Miniatur Aircraft LM-1  (© Jacques Vincent)
INTA Rans S-7  (© Jacques Vincent) Aisa/Schneider SG-38 Schulgleiter  (© Jacques Vincent)
Willys Jeep  (© Jacques Vincent) Henschel 33 G1 (Legión Condor)  (© Jacques Vincent)
Mc Donnell-Douglas DC-9 & Boeing B-727 noses   (© Philippe Decock) Inside the hanger 6, mostly a storage hangar  (© Roland Neetens)
(© Philippe Decock)
Boeing KC-97L Stratotanker  (© Philippe Decock) Lockheed P-3C Orion  (© Philippe Decock)
CASA 207 T-7A Azor  (© Philippe Decock) CASA-212 Aviocar  (© Philippe Decock)
CASA-212 Aviocar  (© Philippe Decock) CASA 207 T-7A Azor  (© Philippe Decock)
De Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou  (© Philippe Decock) Douglas DC-4 Skymaster  (© Philippe Decock)
Dornier Do-27  (© Philippe Decock) CASA Dornier C-127  (© Philippe Decock)
Morane Saulnier Ms-733 Alcyon  (© Philippe Decock) North American T-6G Texan  (© Roland Neetens)
Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina  (© Philippe Decock) Grumman SA-16B Albatros  (© Philippe Decock)
Junkers CASA C-352L  (© Philippe Decock) Junkers CASA C-352L  (© Philippe Decock)
Douglas DC-3 Skytrain  (© Philippe Decock) Canadair CL-215  (© Philippe Decock)
Piper P-24 Comanche  (© Philippe Decock) Piper P-30 Twin Comanche  (© Philippe Decock)
Piper PA-23 Aztec  (© Philippe Decock) (© Philippe Decock)
Beechcraft 55-58 Baron  (© Philippe Decock) North Amercan B-25J Michell  (© Philippe Decock)
Dassault Mirage F-1B  (© Philippe Decock) Dassault Mirage III E  (© Philippe Decock)
CASA Northrop SRF-5A  (© Philippe Decock) CASA Northrop SF-5A  (© Philippe Decock)
North American F-86F Sabre  (© Philippe Decock) Saab AJS-37 Viggen  (© Philippe Decock)
Saab J32E Lansen  (© Philippe Decock) Mykoyan-Gurevich MIG-17F Fresco  (© Jacques Vincent)
Mikoyan-Gurevich MIG-21 SPS Fishbed  (© Jacques Vincent) Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-23ML Flogger  (© Jacques Vincent)
Sukhoi SU-22-M4 Fitter  (© Jacques Vincent) Mc Donnell Douglas F-4C Phantom II  (© Jacques Vincent)
Lockheed F-104G Starfighter left side...  (© Philippe Decock) ...and right side  (© Philippe Decock)
CASA C-101 Aviojet Mirlo  (© Philippe Decock) Hispaño Aviación H-A-220 Supersaeta  (© Philippe Decock)
Aerospatiale SA-318C Alouette II  (© Philippe Decock) Agusta Bell AB-47 J3B-1  (© Philippe Decock)
MBB Bolkow Bo-105 HR-15  (© Philippe Decock) MBB Bolkow Bo-105 CBS  (© Philippe Decock)
Mil Mi-2 Hoplite  (© Philippe Decock) Agusta Bell AB 47-G3  (© Philippe Decock)
Agusta Bell AB-205  (© Philippe Decock) Agusta Bell AB-205  (© Philippe Decock)
Aerospatiale SA-319B Alouette III  (© Philippe Decock) Mc Donnell Douglas RF-4C Phantom II  (© Philippe Decock)
Krupp 88-56 88MM  (© Philippe Decock)

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