All the way in Changping district, the Chinese Aviation Museum – the largest in Asia – features displays of 300 aircraft and thousands of missiles, guns and military equipment. Outside are countless Chinese- and Soviet-made fighter jets (including the PLA’s first, the F-6) and bombers. Make your way around these lesser-known, visually striking flying machines – peculiar antiques of past generations – as rousing military music is pumped out, eerily, around the near-abandoned compound. The hangar itself (20RMB) is a former military base; a giant cave, excavated in the surrounding Mangshan mountains. More relics are within, including a replica of the Red Army’s first plane – The Lenin – and jets used in the Korean War. Unpleasantly, some of these aircraft have info boards that name the USAF pilots shot down by each plane. Head to the large blue hangar (10RMB) for a more modern history, including the huge twin-engine fighter the Shenyang J-11, still in active service.
Don’t miss Board one of Mao’s propeller planes (10RMB) to peer in at the cockpit and austere wooden bed in his private cabin.
Estimated time Three hours.
English provisions Most info boards have basic English headers and brief descriptions.