The Aviation Memorial Park at Budapest International Airport
Formerly known as Budapest Ferihegy International Airport, the complex`s name was changed to Ferenc Liszt International Airport in March 2011 to honour the world famous Hungarian composer on the 200th anniversary of his birth. A small aviation museum, known as the Aviation Memorial Air Park, lies just a few minutes` walk from the airport`s Terminal 2. The museum is closed for a couple of months in winter which is when I visited, although it is possible to shoot all the exhibits through the perimeter fence, albeit not always at the best angle. It would definitely be worth paying the small admission charge for a closer look though and some of the planes' interiors, including cockpits, can be accessed. HA-MOG Ilyushin IL-18V is pictured above.
Tupolev Tu-134A HA-LBE.
Ilyushin IL-18D HA-MOG.
Antonov An-2M HA-MHI looks even older than it should. Production of this multi-role Soviet-built bi-plane began in 1947 and continued until 2002 by which time over 18,000 had been churned out. Although slow-flying, its design incorporates various features which allows it to operate in remote locations from unsurfaced landing strips, ideal for many civilian and especially military tasks. The above shot also shows how close the museum is to Terminal 2.
Mil Mi-2 helicopter HA-BCB. The Mi-2 was produced exclusively in Poland, in the WSK "PZL-Świdnik" factory and was first introduced into the Soviet Air Force in 1965. The Mi-2 was used by mainly former Soviet and Eastern Bloc countries, although it was also purchased by Mexico and Myanmar for their armed forces. Most of Europe`s armed Mi-2 variants were used by Poland and the former East Germany. North Korea still maintains a large active fleet. The air park`s civil registered example was used by the Hungarian National Air Ambulance between 1980-1994.
HA-MAL, an Ilyushin IL-14G. This Soviet-built twin-engine commercial and military personnel / cargo transport aircraft first flew in 1950, and entered service in 1954.
The Lisunov Li-2T was a license-built version of the Douglas DC-3 produced in Russia. Permission to build these aircraft was awarded to the Soviets in 1936 and they made numerous modifications to the original design, utilising Russian engines able to cope with extreme temperatures. By the time Nazi Germany invaded the USSR on 22 June 1941, 237 of the civilian variant known as PS-84s had been built. As the invaders quickly swept across the country towards Moscow and other major population centres, Stalin instructed that factories and production plants relocate far to the east. Within six months, hundreds of Li-2s for the Red Air Force were being built at several locations including Tashkent, now the capital of Uzbekistan. The museum`s example, HA-LIQ, is unsurprisingly an ex-Malev Airlines passenger variant.
HA-YLR Yakovlev Yak-40E of the Hungarian Flight Inspection Service. Introduced in September 1968, this triple-engined Russian-built type was the world's first regional jet transport aircraft. Over 1,000 were produced between 1967-1981.
Within the airport itself, there is a rooftop viewing terrace atop Terminal 2A which visitors can access for a small fee. The museum can`t be seen from this location but it offers decent views over the northern stands and taxiways plus a distant view of one of the two runways. Although the terrace is in the open air, a thick glass screen surrounds the perimeter therefore anyone intending to photograph the aircraft would be advised to invest in a polarising filter to minimise reflections - the light is best in the morning. I spent around 40 minutes on the terrace while waiting for my return flight but at that time the scene was more reminiscent of a quiet British airport. Apart from a few Hungarian-registered Wizz Air Airbuses, the majority of arrivals comprised easyJet, Jet2, Ryanair and British Airways! Lots of potential though.
I only had a compact camera with me but if the wind direction was favourable, reasonable shots of landing aircraft could probably be obtained with a Digi` SLR equipped with a 300-400mm lens. The terrace is usually open year round, between sunrise and sunset, or if you have a car there is an official `Spotter Hill` alongside Runway 31R which is popular with locals. This location is accessed via the small town of Vecses.