Since August 2011 I took knowledge of the existence of an Aviation Museum in Helsinki near Vantaa Airport. This last stopover, I finally decided to leave the centre of the city for a few hours and visit this museum. And I must say it exceeded my best expectations!
To get there I went to the Rautentiatori (Railway Square) and took the bus 612 until Mekaanikontie station - a 35 minutes journey. At first sight, it seems the bus leaves you in the middle of nowhere but after walking a few meters one can see the directions to the museum.
The standard admission fee is 9€ but with my ISIC card I got a student discount and only paid 6€. The personnel seems rather nice.
The entrance to the first hall is through the Gift Shop where I saw many interesting things but would leave a more detailed inspection to it at the end of the visit.
I Exhibition Hall: Military Aviation
I'm more of a civil aviation enthusiast but I tend to like everything that flies - so I spent several minutes in this hall.
|De Havilland Vampire D.H.100 & PIK 3a Kanttikolmonen|
|VL Viima II|
|VL Sääski II|
|VL Pyry II & VL Viima II|
As I suspected, the Civil Aviation Hall would be my favorite one showing airplanes and items from the beginning of aviation in Finland until the modern days of Finnair.
II Exhibition Hall: Civil Aviation
As you enter this hall, one of the highlights of the museum collection is immediately visible - this wonderful Lockheed Lodestar with Kar-Air livery.
|Lockheed 18-07 Lodestar|
Not only entire airplanes can be seen, but you also have engines and propellers on display with some detailed views. I found this DC-9's Pratt & Whitney JT8D very interesting.
|DC-9 engine fan & spinner|
And some smaller aircraft which also make part of Finnish aviation history...
The wing of this Fieseler Fi 156K-1 would be very helpful in Aerodynamics classes since it shows a complex system of high lift devices - flaps to improve lift coefficient at low speeds and the unusual leading-edge fixed slots/slats to delay boundary layer separation.
|Fieseler Fi 156K-1 Storch - wing|
|Piper PA-28R-180 Cherokee Arrow|
The big DC-3 Dakota,
|Cherokee & Dakota|
The legendary de Havilland Beaver...
|De Havilland C-2 Beaver|
Another view of the DC-3 Dakota.
|DC-3 & Beaver|
And for me, the biggest star of the museum is this Convair 440 Metropolitan with Finnair colors. As you climb the steps into the glorious past of aviation you can admire the beauty of this aircraft. Reaching the top of the steps and looking at the door I smiled when I figured out that the concept of emergency descent devices - such as slides - did not change that much. The girt bar that cabin crew would manually attach to the floor fittings was already there. The difference to the L-1011 and to the Airbus aircraft I currently fly is that we have a specific lever to engage or release the girt bar.
|Convair 440 Metropolitan|
It's amazing that we have the opportunity to get inside the passenger's cabin and taste some of that 60s environment.
|Convair 440 - cabin|
I took my seat over the wing and started imagining how it would be a flight from Finland to a warmer Mediterranean destination.
|Convair 440 - wing view|
The small galley at the back of the aircraft made me wonder if it had enough space for meals for everyone...
The first row of seats were rearward facing and didn't have windows as this part of the fuselage is reinforced due to the propellers.
|Convair 440 - main landing gear|
|Finnair's Cabin Crew uniform|
|Old travel bag|
|Heinonen HK-1 Keltiäinen|
|Civil Aviation Hall overview|
|Lodestar & Dakota|
|Fieseler Fi 156K-1 Storch - overview|
At the end of the visit I looked with more attention to the gift shop. There you can find several items and souvenirs including aircraft desktop models and some interesting books. I ended up buying a book written by Finnair flight attendants to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the airline telling their own stories, jokes and poems: Airborne: Tales from a Thousand and One Flights.
For those who love aviation, this museum is a must. I really enjoyed the time I spent there. For the return I opted to go on foot until the airport and catch a Finnair Bus direct to the centre of Helsinki. I opted for this since the 612 bus has gaps of one hour. I'm glad that Helsinki is still giving me plenty of reasons to be one of my favorite stopovers.
Museum URL: Suomen Ilmailumuseo