The Israeli Air Force Museum just outside of Beer Sheva, in the northern part of the Negev, is an aerial counterpart to the Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum in Haifa. Dedicated to the history and preservation of the Israeli Air Force (IAF), the museum showcases over 150 airplanes and much, much more.
About the Israeli Air Force Museum
IAF Museum – Old Israeli Fighters That Have Been Decommissioned
The Israeli Air Force Museum is found in the open expanse of desert at the Hatzerim Air Force Base, with the local warplanes and training planes occasionally flying above the museum during the day – providing great entertainment. The museum’s features are mostly outdoors, with a few buildings dedicated to housing Air Force archives and artefacts. Near the entrance there is a gift shop and a small café, and then the real stuff begins. To start, there is a small building that dissects the history of the IAF and points out the various missions and operations that makes the IAF a legend in and of itself – operations such as Entebbe and the aerial raids on Tunisia and Iraq’s fledgling nuclear facility in 1981. Also, the historical leaders of the IAF are all portrayed on a wall, with dates, photos and trivia. Mock-ups and preserved items such as uniforms as all on display, covering a segment of the IAF history.
Outside, the multitudes of planes are to be seen – over 150 of them, with some open for exploration and photo ops. First, there is the history of the IAF collection, planes that the IAF used throughout the years starting from the WWII-era Spitfires and ending off with the modern-day, still in use, F-15s and Kfirs. Along one edge of the lot are planes and helicopters that have been involved in historical missions and operations including the helicopter that brought Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to the nearby Air Force base to sign the monumental peace treaty between the two warring countries. Also to be seen, in an open hangar, are very old bi-planes and the hang gliders used by Syrian-based terrorists a few decades back – presented exactly as they were “obtained”, a true glimpse into history. In the last section of the lot, the edge closest to the museum building, captured planes from neighbouring countries such as Syria, Egypt and Jordan are displayed as historic trophies – successes of a previous generation. Some of these captured planes are the showpieces of incredible stories of bravery and miracles where extraordinary occurrences were in play – the enemy pilot who mistook an Israeli airfield for his own, and was thereby captured, is one of the best tales to be heard.
Israel Air Force Museum – Old Propeller Planes in a Hangar
Other sections of the museum as a whole include, starting from the furthest feature, a small outdoor area dedicated to anti-aircraft weaponry, from large missile batteries to smaller, more portable weapons designed to take down aircraft. Beside the anti-aircraft weapons collection are several groups of decommissioned warplanes, still intact but no longer in use. And coming closer, a Boeing jet that was used by the IAF that has been somewhat gutted, leaving the seats, and converted into a theatre of sorts where a short film of the IAF’s history and importance as a faction of the Israeli Defence Force is shown (Hebrew, with subtitles, approx. 10 minutes). Scattered throughout the museum’s outdoor area (the bulk of the museum being outdoors) are all sorts of interesting military devices, weapons and paraphernalia.
Due to the fact that the museum is mostly outdoors – and in the desert – there are ample amounts of ice cold water offered throughout the site, both faucets and drinking fountains. Aside from that, there are restrooms and nearly all the museum is wheelchair accessible (except for the Boeing exhibition which requires stair-climbing).
Visiting the Israeli Air Force Museum
Sun – Thurs: 8am-5pm
Closed on Saturday and Holidays
Adult: NIS 30
Child: NIS 20
There are special rates for groups of more than 30 people and on Yom HaAtzmaut, entrance fees are cut in half.
By: Shem Tov Sasson. A Contributing Journalist for Tourist Israel, Shem Tov lives in the small Israeli city of Ma’alot. His personal blog about his experiences and adventures in the Holy Land can be found at Israel’s Good Name.