The other week a friend and I took the children to the Philippine Air Force Aerospace Museum. I had wanted to check it out for a while now. Located out in Pasay, near Resort World, it is quite a drive so you need to plan for the day.
The building is imposing, sitting out the front of the Air Force Base. A large glass front gives you a glimpse at what lies within. Old aircraft hang suspended from the high ceilings and create curiosity, bringing wonderment to the little people who love to get up close to giant machines like these.
We walked into the building from the carpark out back and found ourselves alone except for a few guards huddled near the front of the building. We were surprised that there was no entry fee. Whether this was an anomaly or not we are unsure. I had read there was a small fee but nobody asked us to pay.
This museum was established in the 1970’s to show the history of aviation in The Philippines, throughout the ages. The children ran around looking at original jet engines and turbines (I think that’s what they are). There were real and mock up models showing the development of turbines through the decades. BB loves all that stuff, anything mechanical. He loves to know how things connect, how they work, how the pieces fit together to create the machine so for him, getting up close and touching and exploring was really exciting.
We looked at various weaponry used during the war and a range of photographs, uniforms, badges and the usual military regalia. The museum told the story of early military aviation in The Philippines through its displays, dioramas and models.
Most of the displays did not interest our small people, that side of it would prove interesting to older school aged children who could read and understand more. For me, I enjoy learning about the people and I was particularly moved by the story of the two most famous Filipino Pilots Captain Antonio Arnaiz and Juan Calvo. These chaps were pioneers in the field of aviation here in The Philippines and successfully flew from Manila to Madrid in 1936. This flight was historical because of it’s length and the route it took. At it’s completion it was named The ARNACAL Flight after the two pilots. The flight was done in 31 stages, over 44 days. The flight crossed the South China Sea, Asia, Middle East, Mediterranean and Europe, arriving in Madrid July 11th 1936.
After all of this, the pilots had to quickly escape the civil war going on at the time, so they put the plane on a German Skipper and they took a different ship back home. During the trip, the German Skipper was bombed, so their plane never made it home again. I wondered how they felt on the news they had lost their beloved plane. The memories they would have had. The way their seats felt behind their backs, the air on their faces and the incredible sights they would have seen were now just memories. To be a part of such an historical event would be so wonderful and the sadness at losing their plane I expect would have been immense. I enjoyed learning about these national hero’s who are such an important part of Filipino history.
After our turn around the museum we went out to the garden where a large aircraft graveyard sat. It is a site to behold. These machines are awesome to see up close. Sadly they were all closed except for one helicopter. There was a time these planes were open for children to play in, to explore. We felt saddened that money had not been invested to keep them in a state where this was still possible.
The children played happily in the one helicopter, and I loved looking at the old dashboard with all the dials, switches and buttons. BB was in his element and aside from a few arguments about whose turn it was behind the wheel, the kids had a brilliant time.
The Philippine Airforce Aerospace Museum is located at the Philippine Air Base in Pasay next to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
It is opened daily from 8.30am – 5pm
I read there was a small entry fee however we got in for free
There is plenty of parking