Air Museum for kids and adults

The Air Museum, located at the Sintra Air Base, tells the story of aeronautics in Portugal and is a delight for children and adults alike. This is a museum for all ages.   It’s 50 years old now but it doesn’t show how old it is. The Air Museum is synonymous with an afternoon well spent. Since 2009 at the Sintra Air Base – but with hubs in Alverca and Ovar – it shows more than 40 aircraft from the early days of aviation in Portugal to almost the present day.

This is a very well cared for space with a great concern for the information that is made available to visitors. Because after the first impact of the planes, you have to want to know more.

João Torto, the first Portuguese aeronaut, at the Air Museum
João Torto’s flight The first documented attempt at flight in Portugal dates from 1540. João Torto, full name João de Almeida Torto, jumped from the top of one of the towers of the Sé of Viseu. This nurse from the Santo António Hospital in Viseu, a master barber with a letter of bleeder and also an astrologer and master of first letters, was a visionary. Father Henrique Cid tells that on June 20th 1540, João Torto equipped himself with “triple sole shoes with spaces between them to soften the fall” and a “cap shaped like a bird’s head with a huge and open beak” and took his “witchy wings” of “strong and double cloth” to fly. At 5 a.m. he jumped from one of the towers of Viseu with the aim of reaching Campo de São Mateus.

Here, visitors will be able to see planes and helicopters, get into some of them, and even try out flight simulators, from those used in pilot training to the more playful ones.

The museum is housed in three hangars at the entrance to the Air Base nº1, in Sintra. Upon entering, the visitor is immediately confronted with a huge suspended Juncker. That’s the motto: this is a visit that will surprise us.

And we are surprised not only by the layout of the aircraft, but also by their state of repair. We are talking about planes and helicopters that – for the most part – are no longer in service – but that shine like new.

In an interview with our blog, the director of the Air Museum – Colonel Rui Roque – reaffirms the importance of the existing collection at the three poles, which is considered by international specialists to be “one of the best in Europe”. The “more than 40 aircraft are displayed thematically but also chronologically”. The museum tells the “whole story of the desire to fly in Portugal”, from the first attempts to the present day.

The first impact of the Air Museum
The paratrooper and the German-made Juncker

The Air Museum is not a space dedicated to the Air Force, but to the history of military and civil aviation in Portugal. Therefore, it has exhibition spaces that are the responsibility of TAP and also ANA – Aeroportos e Navegação Aérea.

In the middle of the 3 hangars, there is a glazed cafeteria with a view over the runways of the Air Base, allowing visitors to observe the operations and, who knows, the evolution of the planes.

The Alverca pole we already knew, but the Sintra facilities were visited by us for the first time on the day of the Open Base of Air Base nº1.

We therefore saw a museum taken by storm by thousands of people. We could not, therefore, enjoy every piece of equipment, get into the planes and helicopters, try out the flight simulators.

But we had a fantastic experience, which was to notice the enthusiasm with which the younger people were moving. They wanted to see, they wanted to touch, they wanted to experience.

This is a museum tailor-made for the youngest, but also for everyone else. There are those who recognise aircraft and those who are amazed by the fragility of the first planes; those who want to see everything in detail and those who just want to experiment. The Air Museum is like the slogan of the old Tintin magazine: “for youngsters from 7 to 77!”

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