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Chinese Civil Aviation Museum 中国民航博物馆

While I was on my travels in Beijing, I had a day between groups to explore the area. Unfortunately, we were not staying in the tourist area of Beijing. Instead, our hotel was right next to Beijing Capital Airport. As with many of the outskirt areas in China,  the area around our hotel had fallen victim to the China’s rapid expansion.

Chinese Suburbs with the National Bird (the construction crane) in the background.

So I could hop taxi to the tourist area and downtown  for $40 or see if I could find something near the airport. Since acres of same-t-shirt-wearing Chinese tour groups didn’t interest me, I decided to check google maps to see if there were any attractions around the hotel. Surprisingly, there were two museums that caught my eye. The Beijing Civil Aviation Museum (http://www.caacmuseum.cn/)and the Chinese Cinema Museum (detailed in an upcoming post).

So, we hailed a cap and headed off to the first stop, the Civil Aviation Museum. I should have been tipped off to a problem when I cabbie hadn’t heard of the musem. However, after showing him the address from good, he said he could get us there. (Of course, cab drivers will always tell you they know where they are going even if they have no clue.)
About 15 minutes later we arrived at the address, a tree lined road with no buildings or facilities.  So, we started driving around the area looking for someone who knew about the museum. We found a local hospital, more ruins of torn down houses and even  found a CAAC department HQ.
Finally, in the midst of a demolition zone, we found a fruit vendor who pointed us in the right direction.
It turns out that Google and the official website had lied to me. The aviation museum either no longer exists.  Or,  more precisely it is in the middle of a remodeling. Instead of the website-promised acres of aircraft, I got this:
A few aircraft being slowly overgrown by weeds.
But, what awesome aircraft  – an AN-2
and various civilian airliners.
The museum had the feel of a construction project that lost its funding, but if it ever is completed it looks like it’ll be great place.
Check out some of aircraft below
  • Some real classics there – love the scheme on the BAE 146

  • Hey, I am Chinese aviation fan and I work for a British aircraft company. I am very interest in your article, and perhaps we could be friend. How to contact you? You could visit our web site at first, then you could know we are just huge fan of general aviation. An in fact, we do have some special relationship with EAA.

  • Craig

    Nice photos. It is now 2012 and the museum had its grand opening in late 2011. Our organization, China National Aviation Corporation (CNAC) Association, was created by CNAC pilots in the 1950’s. CNAC was a joint venture of the old Pan Am and previous Chinese government. We have been invited to attend in September 2012 to celebrate a permanent exhibition of CNAC. FYI, the USAF also opened a permanent CNAC display at it Museum in Dayton. We are taking two 95+ old veteran pilots with us after our annual reunion in Burlingame, CA. Check out CNAC.org and the new book China’s Wings by Greg Crouch that came out in Feb about the creation of CNAC in the 1930’s. Thanks. Craig Chinn

    • caseydubose

      Wow, that is really exciting. I think I used to go to church with a gentleman who flew in CNAC back in Idaho. I’m going to go order that book from amazon. Any chance you could send me more information about when you’ll be in China? I think I’ll be in Shanghai at that time and I’d love to come up and check out the museum. I could see them building the building when I was there. It looked pretty nice.