Riga Aviation Museum
Riga Aviation Museum is located on Riga International Airport and has a large collection of Soviet era military aircraft. Highlights are the giant Mil Mi-4 helicopter, Tu-22 bomber and MiG-25 among many other aircraft. The Aviation museum is an excellent place to kill some time during a stop over when flying Air Baltic via Riga.
Riga International Airport
Mon - Fri 09:00 - 16:00
The Riga Aviation Museum is based on Riga International Airport and can easily be reached by car or bus from the town. Bus 22 goes runs from the city centre and reaches the airport within half an hour. The museum is located on the right of the terminal opposite the main parking area. The entrance door to the museum is often closed even though the museum is actually open. Ring the doorbell and the museum owner will open the door for you.
Aero L-29 Delfin jet trainers
Riga Aviation Museum displays four Aero L-29 Delfin jet trainers with numbers; 22, 26, 38 and 92. The L-29 was built in Czechoslovakia and became the standard military jet trainer for the Warsaw Pact Air Forces since the 1960s. Over 3,500 L-29 were produced and many are still flying today as civilian war birds.
Mikoyan Gurevich Design Bureau
Jet fighters from the Mikoyan Gurevich design bureau make up the largest part of the aircraft collection at the Riga Aviation Museum. There are to MiG-15 jets, 15UTI Fagot with a machine gun and the MiG-15UTI Midget; a two seat trainer versions. The museum owns five MiG-21 fighters, the most and longest produced jet fighter in the world. Two MiG-21BIS with numbers 40 and 76 represent the final production model of this famous aircraft type.
The MiG-21SMT with number 10 is a 3rd generation MiG-21 build in the early 1970s. The MiG-21UM with number 94 is a two seat trainer version of the MiG 21 series. The MiG-21US with number 06 is another two seat trainer produced in Tbilisi during the 1960s. Riga Aviation Museum has two Mig-23’s including a MiG-23M with number 74 that was the first mass produced MiG-23 of which over 1300 were made.
The second MiG23 is the MiG-23MF that was export version of the MiG-23M for Warsaw Pact countries. The impressive MiG-25RBS Foxbat is a supersonic interceptor and reconnaissance bomber. The MiG-27K Flogger ground attack aircraft was further development of the MiG-23. The museum also owns a MiG-29UB Fulcrum trainer that was in bad condition during our visit. The MiG-29 of the museum with number 52 was the second MiG-29UB prototype.
Antonov Design Bureau civil aircraft
Four Antonov aircraft are displayed at the Riga Aviation museum; two An-2 biplanes, an An-14 and an An-24. The two An-2 Colts are in a very bad state and need a lot of restoration work. The green painted An-2 with number 22 was produced in the Kiev Aviation Plant and has a set of skis to land on snow or ice. The second An-2 with Aeroflot markings and number CCCP 32418 is in even worse condition and is actually stored outside the museum premise. The An-14 utility aircraft is in similar condition and does not have any wings. The AN-14 was developed in the 1950s and was able to take off and land on very short runways. The biggest aircraft on display is the Antonov An-24B Coke, a Soviet 44 seat twin turboprop transport. More then 300 AN-24s are still in service today.
Sukhoi Yakovlev and Design Bureaus
The Riga Aviation Museum has two aircraft from both the Sukhoi and Yakovlev design bureaus. The Sukhoi Su-7BKL was developed to be able to land on soft runways. It was fitted with skis that would allow it to land on grass in case NATA would have destroyed many Soviet airfields. The Su-7U is a two seat trainer version of the Su-7 and was in use with the Russian Air Force until the late 1990s. The Yakovlev Yak-28R dedicated tactical reconnaissance aircraft developed at the end of the 1950s and in use with the Soviet Air Force until the end of the Soviet Union. The Yak-18T is an aerobatic utility aircraft that was used to train Aeroflot pilots.
Tupolev Design Bureau
Four types of Tupolev aircraft are owned by the Riga Aviation Museum but none of them is easy to see from up close. The Tu-22M1 Backfire supersonic long range strategic bomber is parked behind the Musuem fence and cannot be clearly seen from inside the museum. The best view on the Tu-22M1 is actually from inside an aircraft on the airport runway. This is a shame since the enormous bomber is probably one of the most interesting exhibits of the museum. It could be that the Musuem manager will walk guest to the aircraft when requested. The front section of a Tupolev Tu-104A Camel is displayed at the edge of the museum ground together with some other aircraft noses. Aeroflot Tupolev Tu-134A Crusty passenger jet is parked on the airport apron bordering the museum. A Tupolev Tu-154B2 is parked besides the Tu-134, however, it is unclear of the Tu-154 belongs to the museum.
Seven Soviet helicopters are displayed near the entrance of the Riga Aviation Museum. The Kamov Ka-26 Hoodlum is a very distinctive looking helicopter with its two rotor blades, interchangeable cabin and large jet engines. The Ka-26 displayed in Riga is the pilot training variant used by Aeroflot. The other helicopters are all from the Moscow Mil plant. The Mil Mi-1U Hare is a Soviet three seat light utility helicopter and is in a bad state. The Mil Mi-2 Hoplite, was a small lightly armoured transport helicopter produced exclusively in Poland by the WSK factory in Swidnik. The Mil Mi-4 Hound transport helicopter entered service in 1952 and was used in the Korean War.
The Mil Mi-6 Hook heavy transport helicopter is undoubtedly the star of the Riga Aviation Museum. The Mi-6 entered production in the 1950s and almost a thousand were built for both military and civilian roles. The Mil Mi-8T transport helicopter can carry troops and also act as gunship with its rockers launchers. The Mil Mi-24A Hind combat helicopter gunship and troop Transporter is the predecessor of the famous Hind D gunship.
Various weapons and other exhibits
Many exhibits besides the aircraft are displayed on the museum terrain including bombs, missiles and rocket launchers. Five types of rockets launchers that can be fitted under MiG and Sukhoi fighters are lined up in a row. The types are (from left to right): B-8M1, UB-16 and UB-32 rocket launchers. The museum also has some rockets on display including a Raduga KRS-2 cruise missile from the 1960s. Other military items include a large selection of aircraft bombs and a mobile search light that was probably used on airbases.
The terrain is packed with more interesting Soviet Air Force and civil aviation equipment including an L-13 Blanik glider built in Czechoslovakia. The L-13 is most numerous and widely used glider in the world and is also used by the United States Air Force. Other large exhibits are a mobile ground radar installation and a Jet Engine that is loaded on a truck. An eye catching exhibit is a machine that was used to train Air Force pilots to deal with G forces by spinning them around. Similar machines can be seen in old Soviet movies where Cosmonauts or pilots are trained for duty.
Soviet era airport trucks
The Riga Aviation Museum also owns some Soviet airport trucks parked in the museum terrain. Most impressive is the MAZ-543 AA-60 Aerodrome fire fighting vehicle developed in 1973. The MAZ-543 is build by the Minsk Automobile Plant in Belarus and also exists are Rocket Launching vehicle. Another truck from the MAZ plant is the MAZ-403 aircraft fuel truck formerly used by the Riga Airport. There are also two GAZ (Gorky Automobile Plant) trucks; a GAZ-66 command vehicle and a GAZ-42 truck that belonged to the Riga Airport authority.
There are also two ZIL trucks a ZIL-140 and a ZIL-157 equipped with a mobile radar installation. There is also a Soviet era ZAZ-965 car in desperate need to be restored parked on the museum terrain.
Aircraft spotted on Riga airport
Not only the Aviation Museum but also Riga Airport itself is an excellent place to spot some Soviet made aircraft that are still in Service. Comtourist fly often with AirBaltic with a stopover in Riga. The airport is the home of a Raf Avia Antonov An-24b turboprop transport that we have seen on multiple occasions. Another aircraft from Raf Avia is An-74 Cargo plane. Also seen on Riga Airport are an Air Almaty Ilyushin Il-76TD cargo plane and a Latcharter Yakovlev Yak-42D small passenger Jet. So there are enough things to see in case you have a stop over in Riga.