Polish Aviation Museum (Polish: Muzeum Lotnictwa Polskiego w Krakowie) is a large museum of old aircraft and aircraft engines in Kraków, Poland. It is located at the site of the no-longer functional Kraków-Rakowice-Czyżyny Airport. This airfield, established by Austria-Hungary in 1912, is one of the oldest in the world. The museum opened in 1964, after the airfield closed in 1963.
The collection consists of over 200 aircraft as of 2005. Several of the aircraft displayed are unique on the world scale, including sailplanes and some 100 aircraft engines. Some of the exhibits are only in their initial stages. The museum houses a large aviation library and photographic archives.
The museum has 22 extremely rare airplanes that once were part of the personal collection of Hermann Göring, which before World War II were displayed in Deutsche Luftfahrtsammlung museum in Berlin. These planes were evacuated during the war to rescue them from Allied bombing (the museum itself was destroyed in air raids) and were found abandoned on Polish territory after the war ended. Contemporary museums in Germany had unofficially expressed interest in having some of these planes transferred, especially those that are of great significance to German aviation history. As of 2009 however, there was no sign that this would happen in the foreseeable future.
The museum has very few Polish planes from the years 1918-1939, as these were almost all destroyed during the Nazi German occupation of Poland, including those displayed in Polish pre-war aviation museums. The only two examples of prewar Polish military aircraft in the collection: a PZL P.11 (the only surviving example in the world) and a PWS-26, survived only because they were displayed as war trophies by the Germans, and so were part of the above mentioned collection acquired after the war. In addition, a few Polish pre-war civilian planes were returned by Romania after the war and eventually found their way to the museum.
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 (Russian: Микоян и Гуревич МиГ-21; NATO reporting name: Fishbed) is a supersonic jet fighter aircraft, designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the Soviet Union. It was popularly nicknamed "Balalaika", from the aircraft's planform-view resemblance to the Russian stringed musical instrument or ołówek (English: pencil) by Polish pilots due to the shape of its fuselage.
Early versions are considered second-generation jet fighters, while later versions are considered to be third-generation jet fighters. Some 50 countries over four continents have flown the MiG-21, and it still serves many nations a half-century after its maiden flight. The fighter made aviation records. At least by name, it is the most-produced supersonic jet aircraft in aviation history and the most-produced combat aircraft since the Korean War, and it had the longest production run of a combat aircraft (1959 to 1985 over all variants).