Dave Eade finds contrasting museums in the Netherlands
The opportunity was taken while visiting the KLu airshow in Volkel to visit two esteemed museums in the Netherlands - the KLu museum at Zeist and the newly located (from Schipol) Aviadrome at Lelystad. As is so often the case, the main points of interest were their differences - Zeist is 'what is says on the tin', i.e. a museum of Dutch aviation. Lelystad, however, is a budding theme park, which sets out to give the general public a Dutch aviation background through 'time travel'.
Zeist is a military barracks which recently found fame as the home of the trial of the persons accused of the Lockerbie bombing of a PAN-AM Boeing 747 in which the entire crew and passengers, plus some inhabitants of Lockerbie, were killed. In fact, to aviation enthusiasts, it is better known for its location next to the ex-USAFE base of Soesterberg, on the E30 motorway. It is easy to find the correct turn-off as it is clearly marked by the presence of F-104 Starfighter D-8245 on a pole, signifying the entrance. Originally founded in the sixties, it was opened in a hangar on the base by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands and became limited in content by the physical size of the building. The movement to Zeist (opened 1980) enables many more aircraft to be shown and is now split into three main areas which show the history of Dutch military aircraft and, outside, shows a selection of aircraft of USAF that have served at Soesterberg. Outside as well, are a few examples of larger Dutch aircraft like the P-2V Neptune (201), C-47B Dakota (X-5), F-27 (C-10 - the ex-display bird) and an arrangement of missiles. One further anomaly is the presence of a Mig-21 (47 Red) for no apparent reason.
As a frequent visitor to museums, your scribe would have to rate this one in his top ten - if only for the quality of exhibits shown indoors. It is hard to remember that these are not fresh off the production line machines but time-expired examples of the Dutch air arms. One had the feeling, even when looking at the Sea Hawk (131), Hunter (N-144) and Meteor 4 (I-64), that if you pressed the button, they would fire up! Other gems for me were the F-86K (Q-305), F-84F (m/a P-226) and F-84G (K-171). The only drawback is that for the photographers light was very low - in fact dark. This explains the lack of indoor photographs shown here as, inside, it is very much a tripod and 'one minute at f22' job. It is probably best to try to pre-book your visit with tripod permission and remember it is only open on Sundays! Don't miss it though especially if they ever turn the lights on!
Lelystad - After the joys of Zeist, the Aviodrome came as a bit of a shock. It is not for the enthusiast but to allows the public to see the first 100 years of Dutch aviation. As I indicated above, this is done by the means of time travel! Having paid your 13.50 Euros, you enter a large foyer and are met by a friendly host who escorts you to a lift that takes you, via the use of audio/visual, back to the dawn of Dutch flight, 1896. Via a series of exhibits and vista, the visitor now walks through time to the present and is shown impeccable examples of Dutch aircraft. Photography is not easy but possible without the aid of tripods due to the positioning of very convenient walls that serve to rest one's camera on. Post-war aircraft on show include a DC-3 and DC-4, Hunter (strangely marked in 4 FTS colours) Magister, Jet Provost, Dove and another (!) Mig-23.
Outside meanwhile is, for me, the star of the Aviodrome. The Schipol 1928 passenger terminal has been entirely built again to the original design. Parked on the pan was a DC-2 and it awaits the arrival of the Constellation, which will live here. Nose around and you will also find an ex Dutch Navy Tracker and Beech 18 languishing in the open with a copy Spitfire that appears to have seen better days. Well worth a look, I feel, but not a great visit for the spotter/enthusiast.