National Technical Museum, Prague – Planes and a Whole Lot More

A Spitfire fighter and other aircraft in the museum's transportation hall.
A Spitfire fighter and other aircraft in the museum’s transportation hall.

The NTM – Big and Diverse

Even though I’ve been living in the Czech Republic since 2004, I must admit that I don’t visit Prague very much. When I do visit the capital, it’s usually for brief periods and for very specific reasons. In early January of 2014, a visit to the National Technical Museum was my very specific reason for visiting the city.

This was my first visit to the NTM after many years of intending to go but not quite making the trip. I must say it was well worth the wait; this is a huge collection spread through five floors and at least 8 separate galleries showcasing a wide range of technologies and their connections to Czech history. Exhibits cover such diverse subjects as: Photography, printing, household technologies, chemistry, plastics, textiles, metallurgy and a great deal more.

The biggest gallery is the transportation hall, which is very welcoming with its open space and abundant natural lighting, where you will find the NTM’s aviation exhibits.

The only Zlín XIII ever made resides at the NTM.
The only Zlín XIII ever made resides at the NTM.

Wings Over the Czech Lands

Czechs have been making significant contributions to aviation almost since the dawn of powered flight. As such, it should come as no surprise that aircraft form a very significant part of the NTM’s transportation collection.

Aircraft from before the First World War to the jet age are represented in the collection and while not all of them are Czech in origins, they all are significant to the nation’s aviation history. Some of the aircraft are true rarities and the only surviving examples of their types anywhere in the world.

The Zlín XIII, a domestically developed sport and high speed courier aircraft with development potential as a fighter, is one example of such a rare aircraft. Only one was ever built and the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in the Second World War halted the project at the prototype stage. The project was never revived and the prototype was given to the NTM shortly after the war ended.

Mráz M-1 Sokol: Czechoslovakia's first post WWII aircraft.
Mráz M-1 Sokol: Czechoslovakia’s first post WWII aircraft.

A particularly significant aircraft in the collection is a Mráz M-1 Sokol. Designed entirely in secret during the Second World War, the Sokol emerged in 1946 as Czechoslovakia’s first aircraft design of the post WWII period. The three place sports aircraft was a clear symbol that the nation’s proud aviation industry had survived the conflict intact and was in good hands.

The Sokol was also testament to the determination and optimism of its designers. Mráz was a post WWII reorganization of the Beneš-Mráz company who were forced into building the Fiesler Fi-156 Storch aircraft for the German forces. To be able to design the aircraft successfully in secret under such circumstances is really nothing short of miraculous.

On a more modern timescale, you will also see an Aero L-39 Albatros jet. First flown in 1968, the Albatros went on to become the most widely used jet training aircraft in the world. The type still serves in significant numbers in many air forces around the world and in more recent years has found popularity in the civil sector as well for its fine aerobatic qualities.

The Aero L-39 Albatros
The Aero L-39 Albatros

Visit the NTM, Make it a Day Trip

The aircraft exhibits at the NTM are fascinating, but they really are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg here. There is so much more to see and it easily takes the better part of a day to see it all properly. My visit lasted four and a half hours, though I hardly noticed the time during my visit.

The museum is easily accessible by public transport and there is also some parking available in front of the building. The museum has coat rooms, lockers for bags and valuables, a souvenir shop and a restaurant. There are also lifts if you are unable to use the stairs.

For information on opening hours, admission prices and so forth, follow this link to the NTM web site:

http://www.ntm.cz/en

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