The Musée de l’air et de l’espace is one of the oldest aviation museums in the world. Inaugurated in 1919, the museum occupies over 150,000 square meters of land and hangars in Le Bourget airport (IATA: LBG, ICAO: LFPB), 11 km northeast of Paris. The museum holds a vast collection of objects, including about 150 aircrafts, satellites, rockets and aviation-related objects. #AvGeek paradise!
Their collection includes several early 20th century prototypes and a great World War II hall. But the jewels of the crown are the B747-100 on the tarmac and the two Concords (the experimental F-WTSS prototype and Air France F-BTSD) in one of their hangars (named, evidently, the Concorde Hall). I had the opportunity to visit it not so long ago and it was a great experience.
You can access the museum website here.
The museum is easily accessible from Paris by car (about 10 minutes on highway A1), by bus (Nº 350 from Paris and Roissypole) or by Metro (M7)/RER B +bus.
The first exhibit you see once you enter the museum is the tarmac. There you can find model replicas of the Ariane 1 and Ariane 5 European satellite launchers, right next to the B747-100. That day they also had an A380 and a some vintage civil and military aircrafts on display.
Ariane 5 satellite launcher
Dassault Mercure 100
Air France Boeing B747-128 (F-BPVJ)
This plane was operated by Air France from 1973 to 2000. Since 2003 it’s been open to visits.
Inside the plane it is possible to visit their First, Business and Economy Class cabins, the cockpit and the cargo area. Seeing the premium cabins on this plane made me notice the fast evolution these premium hard product have experienced in the past years. Economy, on the other hand, still looks the same.
First Class Cabin
First Class Lounge (in the Upper Deck)
Business Class Cabin
Economy Class Cabin
Here are some other pictures of a disassembled economy class cabin and galley, lavatories and cargo hold.
Cool fact: you can walk under the engines! This plane was propulsed by 4 Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7 engines, each of them giving 21,320 kg thrust to the plane.
The Exhibit Halls
The exhibit halls show a great collection of civil and military aviation prototypes, from early 20th century models to state of the art combat planes. Here are some (that not all) of the models you can find inside:
The Concorde Hall
In my opinion, the coolest exhibit of the museum. The Concorde is a mythical creature, and they don’t have one, they have two.
BAC-Sud Aviation Concorde prototype 001 F-WTSS
This is the first Concorde ever. Concorde 001. The prototype used by the France – British Aircraft Corporation between 1967 and 1973 to test their product. After 812 flight hours (255 in supersonic speed), the prototype was gifted to the museum.
The interior of this prototype is not configured as a commercial cabin due to its use for research and development only.
Aérospatiale-BAe Concorde Sierra Delta 213 F-BTSD Air France
A commercial concorde, configured on Air France style. A friend of mine that flew over the Atlantic on these birds once told me that flying the Concorde was “paying a lot of money for economy class seating”. He was absolutely right!
Some pictures of underneath the plane and the landing gear:
Rolls Royce Trent 900
They also have a Rolls Royce Trent 900, the engine used on the Airbus A380, on display inside the concorde hall:
It is hog heaven for aviation geeks. It’s a fun half day activity from Paris if you enjoy watching plane prototypes and engines. They also have a nice cafe overviewing the tarmac with decent food for a lunch with views!