Try to work in a visit to Le Bourget Air and Space Museum.
If you’re looking on a French map, look for...
Le Musee de l’Air et de l’Espace...
...just look for
Le Bourget Airport.
Actually it's Aeroport de Paris-Le Bourget but even if you don't speak French you can read that!
We give you directions on how to get there at the bottom of this page.
Le Bourget is the oldest airport in France and it's a pretty famous name for aviation enthusiasts, antique airplane buffs and even historians. We're talking about that world changing flight by Charles Lindbergh... remember?
May 27th 1927... Spirit of St. Louis... first transatlantic flight ever landed at Le Bourget!
You can't get to the spot where Lindbergh landed, but the staff will point out the approximate spot out on the field beyond the fence.
It's cool to know you're close to that historic spot, but the real reason to make time to visit this old airport is the world class Le Bourget Air and Space Museum.
There are several sections to the museum, but my favorite is the the section devoted to early experiments with flying machines and early flight with displays of some of those antique airplanes....
Alberto Santos-Dumont was born in Brazil, but his work as an aviation pioneer was done in France. There is a tribute to him with this manikin portraying his Demoiselle (translated as Damselfly) in flight. This is an example of the No 21.
The airport started commercial operations in 1919, and in this hall you can still see some of the stairways and floor decorations from that period... but the planes... There are plenty of antique airplanes to see here!
The Levavasseur "Antoinette" w/ Astra Wright Type BB was built to try to cross the English Channel. Unfortunately, it's first flight took place on the day that Bleriot flew across the Channel
The Hydravion Fabre (1910) was the first hydroplane to fly. It successfully took off from the water and flew for a distance of 457 m (1500 ft) on 28 March 1910. Within a week it flew a few more times... ultimatlely flying for 3.5 mi (5.6 km). Shortly after that it was badly damaged in an accident.
France played a huge roll in developing the early flying machines, and there are lots of early French inventions to see.
The Nieuport 11, was a French WWI single seat fighter aircraft. It famously fought successfully against the Fokkers that Germany used in WWI.
Morane-Saulnier Type H (1913). It was produced as a sport aircraft but saw some service in WWI with pilots engaging in aerial combat using revolvers and carbines!
The Caudron G3 was used in WWI as a reconnaissance aircraft and trainer.
It's a little hard to see, but the Caudron G4 is a twin engine bi-plane. It was used during WWI as a bomber.... wing warping and all!
There are so many cool early flying machines and antique airplanes that it was hard to choose which to try and show you...
The Deperdussin Monocoque was an early racing plane.
It was produced for the Societe Pur Les Appareils Deperdussin... you may have heard it called SPAD.
This Deperdussin Monocoque was the first plane to exceed 120 mph or 200 km/h.
Le Bourget is all about French aviation...
But we did let in one photo of an English plane...
The de Havilland DH.9 was a British bomber used in WWI.
This Old Terminal Building is really packed with old planes...
It's a little cramped really, but it's fun to run up and down the stairs and walkways to see them from all angles.
Most of the explanations are in French, but recently more have been translated into English.
Feel like you should be reading a little French by now? This hall is for planes developed between WWI and WWII....
Yep... you CAN read French... Entre Duex Guerres...
The Bernard 190 was a French airliner. THe 191GR Oiseau Canari made the first successful French aerial crossing of the Atlantic.
Even though it was between the wars, the Breguet 19 or Breguet XIX was designed as a bomber to improve on the Breguet 14. Because of its speed it attracted interest worldwide.
Oh yes, Le Bourget Air and Space Museum has antique helicopters.... and others besides.
Le Hall de Voilure Tournante
has some great film of early flights and great exhibits including one of
our favorites the la Cierva Autogiro C8-2 G-EBYY.
Breguet made helicopters too...
The Breguet G III Gyroplane BRE III was tested in 1951, but because it was underpowered, it was discontinued.
You can see some of "the regulars"...
They have P-51D Mustang, a Republic P-47D Thunderbolt and a Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XVI among others...
...and one pretty unusual Dewoitine D.520 (1938). You just don't see those French planes that often... at least not where we live!
Mark was excited about some of the planes in the Hall of Prototypes and racers... a hall with racers and really early jets and ramjets in the post WW II era. That would be le Prototypes and Les Avions de Chasse de l'Armee de l'Air....
Those French fighter jets would be....
Dassault Mirage IIIV ('65);
SO 9000 "Trident" (1953);
Nord 1500 "Griffon" ('57);
Dassault Mirage IIIA.
Sorry, you'll have to look up details on those on your own. I do the writing here, and I really do like the older planes better!
There is a hall for space flight which we brushed through pretty quickly.
Another hall displays two Concordes.... one production model and a prototype. There are also many planes and rockets out on the tarmac.
There is a good book shop in the lobby and a nice cafe that lets you look over the outdoor display.
Admission is free for the Le Bourget Air and Space Museum. When we first went, we saw people buying tickets... but it wasn't for entrance... if you want to go into the DC-3 Dakota, the Concorde or the Boeing 747, you must buy a ticket. There is also a fee for an audio guide if you want one.
Le Bourget Air and Space Museum is open every day except Mondays. The hours are 9 am to 5 pm winters and it stays open until 6 from May 1st to October 31st.
We have visited when we had a connection through Charles de Gaulle Airport - CDG - where we had to stay overnight. (There is a Novotel and an Ibis Hotel at Roissy Pole and many other hotels nearby.)
From the Roissy Pole bus terminal, you can pay the driver and catch a bus to the Le Bourget Air and Space Museum. The information booth at the terminal was pretty helpful, even with our bad French. We took Bus number 350.... the islands are marked with the line numbers. Get a map and you can follow along with the stops... they are all named on the bus stop signs.
The bus ride from Roissy Pole cost about 7 Euros round trip last time we were there, and it took about 30 minutes. You can't miss it when you get there...
Look for the sign first off, but the three Fouga Magister planes on sticks are a dead giveaway.
These planes are in the colors of the "Patrouille de France" -- the French national aerobatics team are right at the entrance.
The bus stopped on the road outside of the parking lot the first time we went. While road repairs are underway, the bus stops inside the parking lot.
We've been told that taking the train and transferring to a bus is faster, but with jet lag and all, we've always thought it was easier to just get on the bus and look for those planes!
We haven't visited that way, but you could. Ask at your hotel or any tourist office for directions on how to get to Le Bourget Air and Space Museum from a downtown Paris hotel.
You can do a really quick run through in 3-4 hours, but if you have the time, you can easily spend all day. The Official Website of the Le Bourget Air and Space Museum has lots of information, but it's all in French... (Google can translate it for you...)
The French started an aeronautics museum in 1918 just after World War I... that probably qualifies it as the oldest aviation museum in the world.... The collection was moved to Le Bourget Airport in 1975.
Le Bourget still operates as a business airport, and it hosts the bi-annual Paris Air Show in odd years.
Remember, the Paris Air Show is not about antique airplanes, it's an international trade fair for the aerospace business. We think the best reason to visit is to see the Le Bourget Air and Space Museum.
Find 'em, See 'em, Fly,'em! And have a great flight!
Judy and Mark
Curious about what other antique airplanes we've found? Search for more...
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