WARNING: If descriptions of grown men geeking out at the sight of an airliner make you uncomfortable, you may not want to continue reading.
How to get there
The Aeropark at Budapest airport is easily accessible on foot from Terminal 2. There is a clearly signed path from the lower arrivals level. The walk takes about fifteen minutes at a leisurely pace.
How to get in
The entrance fee is fairly small and payment by credit card is possible. More information can be found on the link at the top of this post.
What is there to see
Let the geeking begin… The Aeropark Budapest is a museum dedicated to the history of Hungarian civil aviation, and that means mostly to the history of its now defunct former flag carrier – Malev. The carrier’s name is an acronym of Magyar Légiközlekedési Vállalat, which is, admittedly, a bit of a mouthful unless you’re Hungarian. In addition to a very large collection of civil aircraft, there are also a few ground vehicles.
The Ilyushin IL-14
The Ilyushin IL-14 was a Soviet-built mid-haul airliner that first flew in 1950. This aircraft is preserved in it’s authentic Malev livery from that period. In case you’re interested, the restaurant 34 at the end of runway 16 in Zürich has an IL-14 preserved inside. You can eat under the aircraft and it’s also possible to take a look at the interior, which has been converted to a lounge area.
The Ilyushin IL-18
The IL-18 was the Soviet union’s answer to the DC-7 and first flew in 1957. There are two aircraft of the type preserved at the museum. The one in the older livery is open to the public. Inside, only the cockpit remains intact. The cabin is empty and houses an exhibition on Malev’s history.
The cool thing about this museum is that’s possible to get real close and personal with the aircraft. The fact that you can actually step inside to look around is the icing on the cake.
Study of a nice pair of spinners.
The Tupolev TU-134
The Tu-134 was commissioned by Nikita Chruschtschow himself after he got a chance to see the Caravelle on a state visit to France. The Tu-134 first flew in 1963. Perhaps one of the most noteworthy features of the example on display at the museum is its glas nose, which was used by the navigator. The Tu-134 is also open for visitors.
An interesting difference between Western and Soviet airlines that was the trademark of the Tupolev airliners what that the wings were angled slightly downwards, whereas Western jets either have level wings or wings that point slightly upwards. I suspect that perhaps the Tupolev was intended to take advantage of the ground effect, considering that the engines were not so powerful back then, and aircraft tended to be seriously underpowered.
On the Tu-134 and the 154 the main landing gear did not retract into the fuselage but into a pod protruding from behind the wing.
The cabin on this aircraft is quite well preserved. Back in the good old days the overhead compartments were open, which is something that is impossible to imagine these days!
The wood table marked the Business Class section. My dad flew on the Tu-134 several times and always said he would have preferred travelling in Economy Class simply because he was worried that in case of an emergency landing, the table, which could not be folded away, would likely crush your ribcage.
The Tupolev TU-154
As far as I’m concerned, the Tu-154 is certainly the jewel in the crown at this museum. The Tu-154 had its maiden flight in 1968. Its dimensions are slightly larger than the Boeing B 727-200. However, it has a lower seating capacity. This aircraft is also open to the public, bust most of the interior is currently still being worked on.
The business end of the T-154.
Other exhibits at the museum include two nicely preserved Yakovlev Yak-40s and a Lusinov Li-2, which basically a DC-3 built in the Soviet Union under licence. However, I didn’t manage to take any photos of them.
The Aeropark museum is certainly worth a visit. I really loved it. The next time I visit Budapest, I’m certainly going there again. I think for me the attraction of this place is that it offers a rare glimpse into the history of Soviet airliners that we don’t often get in the West.