Home China Guide Beijing Attractions National Aviation Museum

National Aviation Museum

  • Hundreds of planes and missile launchers
  • China’s only aviation museum
  • Located in an old air force base
  • Hardened hanger under a mountain
  • 45-minute taxi ride from north-central Beijing
  • Most signs in English

Beijing’s National Aviation Museum (中国民航博物馆; Zhōngguó Mínháng Bówùguǎn) is a treat for anyone interested in planes, military equipment, or the history of aviation. The museum is actually an old air force base that was carved out of Datang Mountain. You can see hundreds of aircraft and missiles of various makes and eras up close.

Learn how China’s air force has changed and developed. At the end of WWII, China barely had an air force. Now China’s air force is ranked among the world’s top three by size. You can see the various types of planes that were used and see the recent products of the aircraft industry.

If you are visiting the Great Wall at Mutianyu, then a stop at the museum would make for a good day tour. Mutianyu is about 65 kilometers or 40 miles north of the museum by road. Let us help you plan a personalized tour of the facility; or add it to a Beijing tour.

Attractions

  • Largest aviation museum in Asia, including 1-km-square old base installation
  • New building with new Chinese-made fighter models
  • 50 old MIGS in a row
  • Large Soviet Tu-4 bomber
  • WWII and Korean War propeller craft
  • New J-11 Fighter
  • Kids amusement rides and games

Tour the old base and its installations. There is a long U-shaped underground hangar that was used to shelter warplanes and old radar, rocket and machine gun emplacements.

The U-shaped hangar is now filled with rows of planes and exhibits. It was built with steel blast doors in case of nuclear attack.
Though most planes are Russian or Chinese, a few were made in other countries. There are 2 British Spitfires, a Mirage jet fighter, and a US Starfighter.

History

China’s air force is called the PLAAF. It started in 1949 with Soviet assistance and some aircraft that were left by the Nationalist army. In the 1950s and 1960s, factories mass produced the J-5 (MiG-17), the J-6 (MiG-19), and the J-7 (MiG-21).

The J-8 was China's first indigenous fighter. Chinese industry is now producing their own advanced fighters. You can see some of the newest models in a large new exhibition hall that was built in 2011.

The museum was opened in 1989. In 2011 it was renovated.

Travel Essentials

  • Free, except there are small fees for entering the long hanger (20 RMB), to sit in a cockpit of a plane such as a DC-8 (10 RMB) or to look around in one of Chairman Mao's personal planes (10 RMB).
  • Open: 8 am to 5.30 pm every day; closed on Mondays.
  • Transport:  Take the Line 5 subway to Tiantongyuan Bei Station (天通苑北, at least 2 RMB). Then take bus 643 from (2.50 RMB). Remember that the last bus leaves about 5:30 pm. You might see taxis or people offering rides. Walking to the main gate takes about 15 minutes.
  • Address: China People’s Aviation Museum, Datangshan, Changping District (昌平区大汤山中国民航博物馆).
  • The best months to visit are between March and November. In the winter it is very cold, and most of the exhibits are outside, spread over the large grounds.
  • Bring your own food if you want to eat well, as, except for snacks and water, food retail is limited.

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