Next in my series introducing aviation museums is the Turkish Air Force Museum (a.k.a. Istanbul Aviation Museum) in Istanbul. I had a chance to visit it during my long layover there last month. While vast majority of the aircraft displayed are military, there is still plenty to see even for an airliner fan.
Getting There, Opening Hours & Entrance Fees
The museum is located in Yesilkoy, about 6 km away from the Istanbul Ataturk airport terminal. As such, the easiest way to get there from the airport is by taxi. Alternatively, you could take a train to Yesilkoy station from where it is just a short walk.
As I was plane spotting at Florya Park before, I took a taxi from there (about 5 minutes), and on my way back I walked to the famous Fly Inn Mall (about 1 hour).
The Turkish Air Force Museum is open from 10AM to 6PM on weekends and 9AM to 4:30PM on weekdays. The entrance fee is 7.5 TRY (a little more than 2 USD) for adults and free of charge for students. A permission to take photos costs another 15 TRY and to take videos another 30 TRY on top of the entrance fee. After paying, visitors are handed a ticket imitating a boarding pass.
Gate Guard & Entrance Area
After getting my ticket, the entrance led me to a spacey outdoor area. Along the road, there was an F-104 serving as a gate guard.
There were also busts of notable Turkish Air Force members and a couple of aircraft including a DC-3 scattered around this area.
Finally, there was a museum shop.
From this area, the two other – main – areas of the museum were accessible.
Indoor Exhibition Area
First, let’s take a look at the indoors area.
Right after entering it, there was a large hall followed by another couple of rooms – all containing various exhibits about the history of Turkish Air Force.
Following those rooms was a hallway that led to a hangar. The hallway featured a couple of aircraft engine exhibits.
Finally, there was the hangar which housed about a dozen or so aircraft. The highlight of the indoor exhibition was, at least for me, a de Havilland Dragon Rapide.
The exit route out of the hangar features a couple more exhibit rooms with mostly aircraft models and uniforms.
Main Outdoor Exhibit Area
Now, let’s go to the most interesting area of the Istanbul Aviation Museum – the main outdoor exhibit!
First, here is a Google Maps overview of the museum to give you a better image of the layout.
Starting from the bottom, there were two fighter jets – an General Dynamics F-16 and a Northrop F-5.
Then, there were two rows of fighter jets and trainer aircraft.
Past those rows, there was a large open area featuring some of the larger aircraft in the museum, the two notable ones being military versions of the DC-3 and the DC-6.
At the time of my visit, the open space was being used by the museum staff that was working on a Phantom exhibit.
Around this space, there were two more areas.
The first one of those featured, besides a kids’ playground, a Transall C-160, a Beechcraft Model 18, a Vickers Viscount and a helicopter.
The other one was a home to a number of light prop aircraft, and the main civil aviation exhibit of the museum – a Istanbul Airlines Sud Caravelle.
Now that the aircraft are covered, I will mention that there were also some other exhibits including missiles and military ground equipment.
Turkish Air Force Museum (a.k.a. Istanbul Aviation Museum) Summary
Overall, the Istanbul Aviation Museum is a great place to visit regardless of whether you are a military or civil aviation fan. As such, I definitely recommend visiting this museum if you have several hours of transfer time at Istanbul airport or if you happen to be in the city.