If you’re a Saab fan (you’ll know—you’ll be utterly fanatical), you’ll love a visit to the Saab Aircraft Museum. It’s just outside Linköping. Get the number 13 bus from Linköping bus station, and 15 minutes later you’ll see the full size crafts standing outside Flygvapenmusem.
My in-laws, Joe, and me enter the giant grey warehouse and are welcomed by a smiling Swede, who, of course, speaks perfect English and gives us guides in both languages. Alongside many popular Swedish museums, Flygvapenmuseum scrapped entry charges in February, so we wander in uncharged and enter the main hall. A plane lovers’ paradise stretches before us. The shimmering array of old fighters, bombers, and transport planes proudly compose the Development of Aviation Technology and Swedish Military Aviation 1910-1945 collections. In the centre, a live band plays the Colonel Bogey March to an admiring crowd. Bopping along, I see stairs into a helicopter and go inside. It’s a HKP1 Vertol 44A, and dark. I’m suddenly transported to a tense world I can only relate to through movies. The air is stale. The band drowns out. I’m in the company of the 20 soldiers this craft used to carry, preparing for an anti-submarine operation or an air-sea rescue.
Vacating this historical immersion, I slide down the hall to marvel at the brightness of a rickety SK 5 Heinkel HD 35 Trainer. One of my companions now decides to teach me the unofficial lyrics to the Colonel Bogey March, which makes me laugh but then whirs around my brain like a J8 Gloster Gladiator propeller for the rest of the day.
The Saab Aircraft Museum boasts 49 different aircraft. As well as being educational, there’s plenty for kids. Simulators, arcade style shooters and sit-in plane models scatter the balcony area on the first floor. Sadly, all of these are occupied and it’s not socially acceptable for a twenty-something year old to push their way into a model plane ahead of elated children. We make ourselves content with pressing buttons for different aircrafts’ noises and guessing what they are.
Flygvapenmuseum has an area dedicated to a temporary exhibition, Sweden during the cold war, and acts of secrecy. It also has a cinema, study room, café, archives, library, and a pretty classy gift shop. Whatever your interests, the Saab Aircraft Museum is accessible for all. Whether you’re interested in war time history, mechanical engineering, or are just a pronounced Saab-thusiast, you’ll love the winged experience of Flygvapenmuseum.