Kunovice Air Museum, Kunovice, Czech Republic

IMG_6710
The Avia Av-14 which greets visitors at the museum entrance.

A Museum with a Mission

Established in 1970, the Kunovice Air Museum is operated by the Slovácký Aeroklub and has held its current location on the Kunovice airport property since 1991.

The air museum at Kunovice focuses its exhibition primarily on aircraft built by the Let company, which has its headquarters at the Kunovice airport. Let was originally established as a branch of the Prague based Avia company in 1936 assigned to do maintenance on Avia built aircraft. Let came into its own as a manufacturer in the 1950s initially by producing designs of other companies; however, the prototype of their own L-200 Morava light passenger aircraft had flown its maiden flight in 1957.

Let’s flagship L-410 Turbolet commuter aircraft is quite well represented and the museum has assembled something of a time line of the machine’s development where you can see the XL-410 prototype sitting alongside early and mid production variants and take in the subtle differences between them. With an example of the unsuccessful L-610 present, it also allows the visitor to compare the Turbolet with what could have replaced it; the size differential between the L-410 and L-610 is quite noticeable.

img_9039
This Mig-19 PM is one of three MiG fighters in the museum’s collection.

Beyond Let’s own aircraft, there are examples of other manufacturers’ aircraft also on display. For aircraft such as the L-29 Delfin and Ae-45, while Let did not design them they did manufacture a great many examples of both types.

The museum’s collection also includes a selection of former Czechoslovak air force aircraft including MiG-15, MiG-19 and MiG-21 fighter jets as well as Sukhoi Su-7 attack aircraft, a Mil Mi-4 helicopter and two variants of the Avia Av-14 transport, the Av-14 being the Czech license built version of the Illyushin Il-14.

In September of 2016, after a few years of hard work and a very successful internet crowdfunding campaign, the museum was able to transport a former Czech air force Tupolev Tu-154M aircraft from Prague to Kunovice. The aircraft, named “Nagano Express”, was used to fly the Czech gold medal winning Olympic ice hockey team home from the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

img_9058
“Nagano Express” upon arrival at Kunovice in September of 2016

With the amount of money raised through the crowdfunding project, the museum will be able to do a great deal of work on the aircraft and make it a very impressive display piece once complete.

The museum was able to afford a fresh set of fasteners to reassemble the aircraft with and has enough money to give the aircraft a fresh coat of paint and a full interior refurbishment that will include an audio visual presentation. The museum will also be able to provide concrete hardstands for the aircraft so it does not sink into the ground once put on display.

In 2017, the museum unveiled to the public a one of a kind new exhibit in the form of the Let/Zlín Z-37 TM. The aircraft was a one off modification of the Z-37 T agricultural aircraft to test the type’s suitability for military close support missions in the mid 1980s.

IMG_0985
Roll out of the restored Z-37 TM

The tests showed that the aircraft was quite unsuitable for the job and the project was abandoned. The aircraft was subsequently converted back to agricultural work and placed on the Czech civil register.

The aircraft eventually found its way to Hungary and languished in open storage for several years there before it was located by museum staff and arrangements were made to bring it to Kunovice.

The aircraft arrived at Kunovice in autumn of 2016 and was restored in the off season. Restoration was completed through early 2017 and the aircraft was put on display in June of 2017.

Visiting the Museum

IMG_6693
The Let L-200 Morava, Let’s first design that was completely their own.

The Museum can be reached by car or train. There is some parking available and the nearest train stop (Kunovice Zastávaka) is less than a ten minute walk from the museum. It should be noted that this particular train stop is little more than a siding on the rail line so you should watch for the museum and listen carefully to the stop announcements.

Around the corner from the museum there is a small restaurant on the airport property called OK-BAR. It’s got a friendly and relaxed atmosphere and an outdoor terrace as well as tables inside.

On the way from the museum to OK-BAR, you will walk past a parking area for aircraft of the local flying club. The aircraft can range from small two seat trainers to sailplanes all the way up to larger aircraft taking skydivers up for a jump. It’s certainly worth stopping for a moment to see what’s parked there.

Protecting the Past and Planning the Future

IMG_6729 - kopie
The museum’s selection of souvenirs on display in the entry building.

As Kunovice is an outdoor museum, the aircraft all show greater or lesser degrees of damage from exposure to the elements; however, the museum has a plan to remedy the situation.

For the past few years, the museum has been drawing up plans and putting the bureaucratic pieces in place to build a permanent structure to house several of their aircraft indoors, out of the elements.

For the uniqueness and rarity of some of their aircraft, this museum really does deserve all the support they can get in trying to safeguard their collection from the elements.

To begin the 2016 museum season, a freshly completed entry building housing the museum cash desk and souvenir shop has been put in place to give visitors a much better impression when they enter the museum than the previous structure for the purpose did.

The selection of souvenirs available include a number of items uniquely themed to the museum, including: coffee mugs, T-shirts, stickers, patches, postcards and more.

Learning More

The museum’s Facebook page is the best place to keep abreast of their latest activities. While it is all in Czech, you should have no problem finding someone on the page who speaks English or another language who would be willing to help you communicate with the museum if you wish to assist them in some way:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Zachra%C5%88te-leteck%C3%A9-muzeum-Kunovice/490138831067931

The museum’s website is only in Czech at the moment; however, it does respond well to internet translator functions. The site contains information about opening hours and entrance fees:

http://www.muzeum-kunovice.cz/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s