Israel’s Air Force was instrumental in securing against-all-odds victories in many of its wars. This legendary air force started with a few borrowed planes, and is now developing and testing cutting edge air defense technology.
The Israel Air Force Museum is located at the Hatzerim Air Base near Beer Sheba in the Northern Negev Desert, conveniently located if you are heading to Eilat or Israel’s other southern attractions. It is fun for all ages, and not just for airplane buffs and Israeli history geeks!
The museum has an impressive collection of over 150 airplanes and helicopters, with videos explaining the history of Israel’s air force and their dramatic contribution to the state’s establishment and survival. For example, they have a Messerschmitt and a Spitfire that fought in the War of Independence, captured enemy planes, and a number of fighter jets and attack helicopters used in later wars and historic operations.
Highlights include historic planes from Israel’s fledgling Air Force, various aircraft and helicopters that were involved in historic missions such as the 1981 bombing of Iraq’s Osirak nuclear facility, and even Iraqi planes that were persuaded to fly to Israel in the 1960s. There are also fire trucks and other ancillary vehicles that keep the air force flying.
Kids can climb into the cockpits of some of the exhibits and imagine themselves as fighter pilots! Most of the planes are located outdoors, but there are also indoor exhibitions of artifacts and uniforms, telling the stories of the fearless pilots who carried out daring game-changing raids during Israel’s wars. There are guided tours in English and you can also meet members of today’s Air Force who can explain the features of the various planes.
On Yom Ha’atzmaut – Israel’s Independence Day – the museum is free of charge and there are special events and flight demonstrations. During the Passover and Sukkot holidays, some of the carefully-maintained historic planes fly over the museum, and current IDF aircraft are also on display. Because of security considerations, you must bring your passport or other ID in order to enter the museum.