The Royal Thai Air Force Museum is a small but surprisingly interesting plane collection hidden away near the old Don Muang Airport. Sure it doesn't compare with famous big air museums you can find in Paris, London or USA, but as it is often forgetten it is actually a good surprise.
Covering the entire history of Thai Aviation since the very first double-winged planes, about thirty airplanes are displayed partly outdoor, partly indoor inside a couple of large hangars converted into a museum.
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Of course if you are a plane specialist you might find the collection of planes rather modest, but anyone fascinated by those old flying machines will appreciate the models on display. Some are actually rare or even the last of their kind, restored to a perfect condition: the Curtiss Hawk III is the very last one in existence, and shares top billing with an old, bulky Vought Corsair V-93s. Also worth noticing is the two seat bomber standing outside the museum: the Paribatra (pronounced Boripat!) was the first plane designed and built in Thailand back in April, 1927.
All these massive machines are loaded with history, still proudly standing on their red carpets next to fighters from the Vietnam war era, each of them having a story to tell. It's always a surprise to realize how big a single-propeller war plane is when compared to the tiny leisure planes that take you around for a weekend ride.
Parked neatly outside like an eclectic, jumbled-together fleet ready to take to the skies is a collection of first generation jet fighters: North American F 86L, Republic F 84 Thunder-Jets and Lockheed T33A are still impressive despite being a bit neglected. Further on are the training and rescue planes: Percival Prince IIIA and Beechcraft model 18... and even a Fairchild C-123b with a garland of yellow flowers hanging in the cockpit, just like the ones you find hanging on longtail boats or even taxis.
The Thai Air Force Museum might not be on the Top 10 most popular attractions, but because it is still quite large for such a underrated museum, it definitely goes to our 10 Offbeat things to do in Bangkok!
Royal Thai Air Force Museum
- Opening Hours: daily from 9am until 4pm except holidays
- Location: 171 Paholyothin Road, behind Don Muang Airport
- Tel: +66 (0)2 534 1764, (0)2 534 1853, (0)2 534 2113
- Price Range: Free entry