Kosice, Slovakia’s second-largest city is home to the country’s best-known aviation museum. The city’s Museum of Aviation, or Letecke Muzeum Kosice as it’s known in Slovak, first opened its doors to the public in 2002 and is a branch of the Slovak Technical Museum.
While most of the aircraft on display are military, there are a couple of exhibits that make the museum well worth a visit even for civil aviation enthusiasts. As such, I was really happy to have a chance to check it out back in September 2020. This article offers an overview of what can be seen in the museum.
First, some basic information that you should know before visiting it, though.
Access, Opening Hours & Entrance Fees
With no bus going all the way to the museum, the easiest way to get there is to take a cab or drive. Alternatively, since the museum is adjacent to Kosice airport, you can take a bus to the airport terminal and walk from there. It should take about 15 minutes or so.
When it comes to opening hours, the main thing to keep in mind is that the museum is not open all year round. Instead, it is only open from April 15th until October 31st. During those months, the opening hours are as follows:
- Monday: closed
- Tuesday – Friday: 9AM – 4PM
- Saturday – Sunday: 10AM – 5PM
As the hours above are subject to change, make sure to check the museum’s official website before heading over.
The entrance fee is 5 EUR for adults and 2 EUR for children, students, and seniors. The museum also offers a family ticket (2 adults and up to 3 children) for 8 EUR. Children under 6 years old, seniors over 70 years old, and a couple of other groups can enter for free.
Entry on the first Sunday of each month is free for everyone.
If you want to take photos or videos, you will have to pay 1 EUR in addition to whatever the entrance fee you have to pay is. If you want to use the captured footage for commercial purposes, the fee is 35 EUR instead.
Indoor and Outdoor Exhibits
As mentioned in the introduction, the museum is home to a large number of military aircraft. Additionally, there are a few airliners and light aircraft on display. Finally, aircraft parts and aviation equipment as well as some things unrelated to aviation like cars and everyday items can be found in the museum as well.
All of those exhibits are spread across a couple of buildings and outdoor areas.
Outdoor Exhibits: Airliners
Considering that this is mainly a commercial aviation blog, let’s start by looking at the airliners displayed in the museum. All of those are displayed outside.
When it comes to aircraft formerly operated by an airline, there’s only one – a Malev Ilyushin Il-18. While I saw the same type in the same livery in Budapest’s aviation museum before, and even flew on the Il-18 in North Korea, it was still nice to be able to see another airframe of the large Soviet turboprop.
Another turboprop airliner in the museum is an Avia Av-14 (Ilyushin Il-14 manufactured under license in Czechoslovakia) formerly operated by the air force of Czechoslovakia. This aircraft is not in the best state and is wearing worn-out colors of “Slovenske Dopravne Muzeum,” a private transportation museum that was its previous home.
The other two airliners in the museum are both jets, a Tu-154 and a Yak-40, formerly operated by the Slovak Government. They were flown to the museum after the government replaced them with Airbus A319s and Fokker 100s in 2016. As such, they are not only (at least for me personally) the most interesting exhibits in the museum but also some of the most recently added ones.
While it seems like entering the Tu-154 was possible in the past, the gentleman that briefly guided me around some of the exhibits mentioned that they stopped doing that due to vandalism.
One last thing worth mentioning is that, as you will learn more about further down, Slovakia’s former president Rudolf Schuster played an important role in the establishment of the museum and the growth of its collection. At one point, he even got close to having one of Air France’s Concordes gifted to the museum.
While that, unfortunately, didn’t happen in the end, I thought it was still worth mentioning here.
Outdoor Exhibits: Other Aircraft
In addition to the four airliners mentioned above, quite a few military aircraft – both fixed-wing planes and helicopters – can be found spread out across the museum’s large outdoor area.
Most of those are fighter and trainer jets formerly operated by either the Czechoslovak or Slovak Air Force. Some of them are in better condition than others. Almost all of them have (or at least had during my visit) sheets covering their cockpits, making it impossible to take good clean photos of the exhibits.
Considering that it is lacking wings as well as a propeller, it might be a stretch to call it an aircraft, but there is also a Zlin Z-37 Cmelak displayed outside. This Czech Republic-made aircraft was heavily used in Czechoslovakia as a cropduster.
The Presidential Collection of Aircraft
As mentioned earlier, one of Slovakia’s former presidents, Rudolf Schuster, was a key person in establishing this museum and was also passionate about growing its collection. With that, it’s no surprise that the museum’s biggest pride is the collection of aircraft that were gifted to the president by other countries’ leaders.
While this collection sits outdoor, it is housed under a large tent protecting them from the elements.
The first aircraft in this collection was a Sukhoi Su-15 gifted by the president of Ukraine. Over a dozen aircraft including PZL TS-11 Iskra gifted by the Polish government, Dassault Mirage IIIs gifted by Switzerland and France, a Northrop NF-5FA from the president of Greece, and a McDonnell Douglas F-4F Phantom gifted by the president of Germany gradually joined the collection.
Perhaps the most unique aircraft in the museum, though, is Nanchang Q-5 gifted to the museum by the Chinese government. It is the only such aircraft on display in a European museum.
Indoor Exhibits: Civil and Military Aircraft
The museum’s indoor exhibits are, as mentioned earlier, spread across a couple of different buildings.
One of those is dedicated to aircraft designed before 1945. Besides complete airframes, there are also some individual parts including engines and propellers on display.
The other buildings house more modern aircraft and parts.
On the military side, there’s an Aero L-29 Delfin (that my sister and I were allowed to climb into), among others.
On the civil side, there is, among others, a collection of some of the better-known aircraft manufactured in former Czechoslovakia including Let L-13 Blanik glider, Let L-200 Morava twin-engine aircraft, and another Zlin Z-37 (this one was complete with wings and so on).
One of the exhibits that I was the happiest to see in the museum was a prototype of Aeromobil, a flying car developed in my hometown of Nitra, Slovakia.
In addition to aviation, the museum also has other exhibits on display, particularly ones related to transportation. In fact, one of the buildings is dedicated almost entirely to cars and bicycles. It also has a couple of display cabinets with vintage everyday items, though.
Outside, there’s an old train car, a couple of Avia trucks, an S-75 air defense system, and a number of other exhibits.
The last thing that I want to touch upon is plane spotting.
With the museum being adjacent to the airport, it might be possible to take some photos of aircraft on the runway. That said, since Kosice is not a busy airport (especially so during the COVID-19 pandemic), I wasn’t able to actually do so.
That said, the museum is also adjacent to the airport’s helicopter stands. As such, depending on the day you visit, you might be able to get a photo or two of a helicopter. During my visit, I was able to photograph a Sikorsky UH-60A operated by Slovak Training Academy.
All in all, if you find yourself on the eastern side of Slovakia for one reason or another, I highly recommend visiting this museum. That is if you happen to be visiting between April and October since the museum is closed during other months.
Regardless of whether you prefer military or civil aviation, you are definitely going to find enough interesting exhibits to make the trip worth it.