A unique experience for an enthusiast of aviation in India would be to pay a visit to the Indian Air Force Museum at Palam. Situated on the outer suburbs of New Delhi, The capital of the Indian Republic, the Museum is quite a distance by road from the centre of the city. But a visit to it is well worth the effort one puts in reaching it.
The only one of its kind in India till the recent unveiling of the Naval Air Museum in Goa, the IAF Museum offers an insight not only into the history of the Indian Air Force but a complete picture of Military aviation in India. Starting from the initial days when Indian aviators flew for the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War, right up to the days of the Kargil Operations. The visitor is regaled with pictures, mementoes, souvenirs, models, and the actual aircraft themselves.
The Museum consists of an Indoor Gallery comprising of the pictorial history of the Indian Air Force, also holding showcases of memorabilia, uniforms, personal weapons etc of different periods. An adjoining hangar gives the visitor the delight of looking at the actual aircraft of different periods. Not only aircraft but also equipment like Ordnance, Anti Aircraft Guns, Vehicles and other assorted items. Some aircraft too large to be accommodated in the hangar are displayed on the apron outside. The Outdoor Gallery also offers War trophies, Radar Equipment and Captured Enemy Vehicles.
Off limits to the regular visitor is the Vintage Aircraft Flight, which services and strives to maintain some rare examples of aircraft in airworthy conditions. Strapped of funds, the personnel of IAF Vintage Aircraft Flight do their best to keep these aircraft flying fit. Also off limits to the regular visitor is the Transport Aircraft which due to the lack of hangar space are stationed outside the Museum’s limits in the main apron of Palam Air Station itself. Being an operational Air Force station, Visitors do not get a glimpse of these magnificent giants except on the Air Force Day every year when it is thrown open to all.
For those willing to take a part of history with them to home, the Museum has a small souvenirs corner where the visitor can get to buy Souvenir T-Shirts, Key Chains, Postal Covers, Bottle Openers and even Chinaware!