Saturday, June 26, 2010

The PAF Aerospace Museum

Along the stretch of road leading to the NAIA domestic terminal, at the entrance to Villamor airbase, lies a modern glass and concrete structure housing the PAF's Aerospace Museum. Its collection includes various uniforms of the PAF, model planes, cut sections of actual plane parts, guns, an interactive flight simulator and a vast collection of memorabilia. Aside from the indoor exhibits, there's also the outdoor 'Aircraft Park' that shows off the various aircrafts used the Airforce in the past. All of these for a small entrance fee of P20 (USD 0.44).

Dioramas and photo galleries on the 2nd floor showcases the history of flight in the Philippines under the American Commonwealth period, the inception of the airforce into the armed service, and its 'trial by fire' as the country was pulled into the Pacific theater of the second World War.

You can't help but feel pride as you move along the halls with stories of our brave and valiant pilots who, against all odds, was able to step up and defend the motherland against a larger, more experienced, and better equipped invading fleet. Especially with the story of Lt.Jesus Villamor who, along with a handful of defending pilots of that day, was able to fend off the Japanese fighters and bombers who came straight from their attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Aircraft park was a joy to go to. You can go and ride the cockpit of some of the planes and helicopters in the exhibit. My son and I fooled around with the anti-aircraft gun at the center. We had a lot of fun there. Good thing the weather was overcast that day.

I must say, this has been an eye opener for me and my visit there has changed my view about the state of the Philippine Airforce. All I heard from the past is that they only used WWII planes like the Mitsubishi Zero and the American P51. A kids, we even joked that a bombing mission entails dropping grenades or warheads to their in those old WWI films.

As I grew up, I did heard about the conversion and wide use of the Broncos but I never heard that the PAF used jet engine fighters like the F5A and the Sabre. As old as they may be, I am still awestruck when I see those old "Jet Age" airplanes.

Along with their wide range of WWII memorabilia, are the survival gear and weapons of Lt. Onoda. The Japanese soldier who stayed behind and was instructed to 'never surrender nor commit suicide'. He was instructed to surrender in 1975...30 years after the end of WWII.

Along with the various jet engine parts in the 1st floor are the different experimental weapons platform undertaken by the Armed Forces. Its also noted that these experiments, conducted to make our Armed Forces self sufficient, was scrapped due to political matters.

All in all, our trip to the PAF Aerospace Museum was well worth it. Its sure to bring out the inner child as you play along with the youngins.

1 comment:

Paulo said...

I plan to go here with my family soon! Thanks for the nice post.

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