Long term readers of Pickled Wings will know of my existing article about the Kunovice Air Museum in the south-east of the Czech Republic.
This museum is a special place to me as I’ve seen it change so much since my first visit there in 2008, and all the changes have been for the better. The museum business is not an easy one, but the Kunovice Air Museum is a great example of how a struggling museum can become a flourishing one when networking opportunities for partnerships with companies and other museums as well as government support at both national and local levels are made available.
I try to visit the museum at least once a year and post an update of the recent developments there. I was not able to visit during to 2022 season, but here are some notes from a recent visit I paid at the end of April, 2023:
A Bumblebee Refreshed
The museum has had a Z-37 Čmelák (Bumblebee) in their collection for many years.
When I saw this aircraft on my first visit to the museum in 2008, it was in such a sad state that I didn’t even take a picture of it.
The museum took the aircraft off of public view for several years to perform an extensive restoration of it.
Beyond the tremendous talent pool among museum volunteers, the restoration was made possible by the Kunovice based Let aircraft company donating hangar space for the work to be done in as well as funding from the Czech Ministry of Culture.
The completely restored aircraft was rolled out and put back on public display in summer of 2022. The aircraft was restored precisiely to the markings it wore when it operated on the civil register of the former East Germany. This is very fitting as the aircraft spent the bulk of its flying career in that country.
Meet the New MiG!
LOM Praha is a Prague base aviation services company that the museum has a partnership with.
In autumn of 2021, the company loaned a former Czech air force MiG-23 fighter to the museum wit hthe intent for the aircraft to be displayed at the museum and eventually restored.
From late 2021 to early 2022, museum staff went to Prague to disassemble the aircraft, which had been sitting for many years in front of the LOM Praha office, and transport it by road to Kunovice.
Following reassembly, the aircraft was placed on public display at the museum in summer of 2022.
Something for the Kids
The loan of the MiG-23 was not the only recent museum project that involved LOM Praha. The company was one of several contributors to the creation of the Education Interactive Zone for Children that the museum introduced at the start of the 2022 season.
The area takes up a small area and has three friendly looking aircraft for kids to explore and play around on.
However, it’s not simply a playground. One of the aircraft has a functioning control stick and foot pedals, so kids can see the control surfaces on the wings and tail responding to how they move the controls.
There is also a presentation board with examples of common materials that aircraft parts are made from, so a tactile experience is available without touching the museum’s display aircraft.
There is education as well as fun in this part of the museum.
As with the Z-37 restoration, the Ministry of Culture also provided some funding for this project.
The “Nagano Express” Revisited
The centrepiece of the museum’s collection is, without a doubt, their Tupolev Tu-154 airliner, “Nagano Express”.
In the 2021-2022 time period, engines were installed in the aircraft’s two outboard engine pods. The engines were provided and installed by the Slovak Technical Museum.
These new engines may not be the most immediately visible of the new developments at the museum, but they give a lot in the way of completeness to the Tu-154 when you get up close to it.
Now, when you look towards the tail of the aircraft from the top of the airstairs, there is a real engine turbine face looking back at you.
When you walk around the back of the aircraft, you can know see the thrust reverser machanisms at the back of the engine pods. The thrust reversers were very distinctive and visible features on the functioning aircraft.
That’s Just a Taste
What I’ve written in this update touches on the most visible of new developments at the Kunovice Air Museum in the 2021-2022 timeframe.
If you want to know more about what you can expect to see at the museum, please visit my existing article about it via the link in the start of this article. You can find links to the museum website and Facebook page there for more information.