Pearls of Russia
Museums and memorial estates
Central Museum of Air Forces
The Central Museum of the Air Forces at Monino, Russia is located approximately 38 kilometers (24 miles) from Moscow along the Gorky Highway in a lovely wooded area. It is the largest and best aviation museum in Russia. The museum was formerly known as The Russian Federation Air Force Museum and, prior to that, The USSR Air Force Museum.
The facility was an operational air base from 1932 through April, 1956. The museum was founded in 1958 and opened in 1960 at the original airfield location and in the original airfield structures.
The area was off-limits to civilians during the Soviet era so it has been neither easy to find nor easy to access. Advance permission to visit the museum was recently required for non-Russian citizens. Despite this, it is the finest Russian aviation museum in existence and will be the highlight of any enthusiast's visit.
The facilities are largely unimproved and the majority of aircraft are exposed to the harsh Russian weather. The museum has long been run by the Russian government and there was no legitimate means of making monetary contributions to the museum at the time I visited. Many of the Russian aviation Design Bureaus (Tupolev, Ilyushin, Antonov, Mikoyan, etc.) have contributed exhibits and resources to the museum and its maintenance.
Despite these conditions, the aircraft are in surprisingly good shape and most are sitting on the original tires they landed at the Monino airfield with. This is a testament to the museum employees who have a great historical legacy to preserve.
In 2001, the museum became independent of the government. It is likely that requirements for admission to the museum have been or will soon be relaxed.