I am standing outdoors a locked gate and a barbed-wire fence. That is undoubtedly the correct place. By means of the fence I can see some Soviet-era helicopters. The closest even says “CCCP” (the Russian abbreviation for the previous Soviet Union) in large letters on the facet. A dilapidated gatehouse and overgrown shrubbery are extra indications that the Riga Aviation Museum is not a standard vacationer website.
There is a button subsequent to an indication that claims “Name and wait!” in English, and what I assume is identical message in each Latvian and Russian. It is then I discover the gate is barely ajar, so I step in, feeling like I am doing one thing unlawful. An older gentleman approaches and says “Seven euros.” I pay, not realizing that is the founding father of the museum. He nods and walks away. I am free to discover alone. I stroll down a mud path, previous the purple Mil Mi-4 I noticed from the gate, and enter a world of MiGs, Sukhois, Antonovs and extra. It is one of many greatest collections of Soviet plane outdoors of Russia. This might be a enjoyable afternoon.
Observe that I visited this fascinating museum pre-. Hopefully, we’ll all be capable to journey once more and you’ll go to it your self. What follows is what it was prefer to discover this distinctive location.
Soviet aviation historical past on show on the Riga Aviation Museum
Latvia, on the Baltic Sea between Lithuania and Estonia, was a part of the Soviet Union from World Conflict II to 1991. The locals typically favor to explain this era as “occupied by” Russia. There aren’t many indicators of this period, nonetheless. A couple of scattered buildings present hints of that blocky Soviet brutalist design, however that is it. Riga is the most important metropolis within the three Baltic international locations, nevertheless it’s nonetheless small by European capital metropolis requirements. The Previous City is a pleasant combine of recent, medieval and Artwork Nouveau buildings.
It is bizarre to take a bus to an airport … then stroll away from the terminal as a substitute of boarding a flight. However that is the way you get to the Riga Aviation Museum. As you stroll alongside an entry street, you may see airliners over some bushes and bushes, so you recognize you are on course.
Contained in the museum there are many plane which might be uncommon within the West. The gathering is sort of totally Jap Bloc plane, with a number of supersonic Chilly Conflict-era fighter jets, passenger plane, army helicopters, and extra. Ever seen a Czechoslovakian jet coach? They made hundreds and there are a number of on the museum.
The large Mil Mi-6 is the actual draw right here. You can match each different helicopter within the museum below the span of the -6s rotors. It was the most important army helicopter, and the quickest, till it was changed by the even bigger Mi-26. It is stated the gearbox is heavier than the engines. There’s an early Mi-24 Hind assault/transport helicopter, as effectively. These are uncommon in museums within the West and this a fair rarer early variant with the boxy cockpit glass as a substitute of the extra recognizable bubbles.
Although the museum does have a Tupolev Tu-22 bomber and a Tu-134 passenger jet, as a consequence of area constraints these plane are on the opposite facet of the runway, not solely inaccessible, but in addition not seen. Oh effectively.
Latvian labor of affection
The Riga Aviation Museum exists nearly totally due to one man, Victor Talpa, the gentleman I unknowingly met as I entered the museum. He is the founder, the curator and the supervisor, making it just about a one man present. That makes the museum all of the extra spectacular. The Baltic winters have actually taken their toll on among the plane, nearly transitioning the museum to extra of a boneyard, however not fairly. That does not make it any much less attention-grabbing. Actually, it is like one other world weaving your manner via growing older Soviet plane.
There actually is not one other museum like this one anyplace. You may get considerably of an identical vibe strolling via the boneyard of Yanks Air Museum, or the far bigger AMARG in the Arizona desert. However with such a concentrate on Soviet and Jap Bloc plane, Riga is a wholly totally different expertise. My solely want, as at all times, can be entry to the interiors of the among the plane, particularly the Mi-6. That is fairly uncommon at any air museum although.
Once we’re all capable of journey once more, it is very simple to get to the Riga Aviation Museum, because it’s just some minutes stroll from the airport. For now although, take a look at the gallery and video above.
In addition to masking TV and different show tech, Geoff does picture excursions of cool museums and locations around the world, together with nuclear submarines, massive aircraft carriers, medieval castles, airplane graveyards and extra.