Lanzarote’s Museo Aeronáutico (Airport Museum) is passed by thousands of cars daily, but only a few end up exploring this fascinating place. That’s a shame, because it’s a little gem – we took a tour of the museum recently.
Each year, seven million people pass through Lanzarote Airport. Without aviation, this island would still be very much a backwater of the world, so it’s worth remembering that the history of flight on Lanzarote is less than 100 years old, and there’s no better place to learn than at the Aeronautical Museum.
The building in which the museum is located was actually the first airport on Lanzarote, which operated from 1946 until 1970, when increased traffic meant a move to what is now Terminal 2. It’s a small but attractive building, with a circular control tower overlooking what used to be the runway.
This original airport gives a strong sense of what flying must have been like back in the old days when only a handful of planes arrived each week. Previously, the only aircraft to be seen on the island were seaplanes, which generally landed off Arrecife in the Reducto bay. Occasionally, a Zeppelin would pass over the island, following the trade winds and dropping mail to islanders.
Inside, you can find all sorts of mementos and souvenirs of Lanzarote’s early years of aviation. There are photos of visits by Concorde, vintage uniforms worn by flight staff, accounts of early hydrofoil landings in the waters off Lanzarote and a fearsome case of weapons and contraband that were once confiscated.
You can also see a replica of the original mural that César Manrique created for the airport, as well as another mural by the Belgian artist Jean-Pierre Hock.
One of the most charming exhibits is the original bar where passengers and flight staff might share a drink or a snack before and after take-off, and you can also head upstairs to look at the control tower itself, with all the instruments and charts that were necessary in the days before GPS location and modern computers.
The Museo Aeronáutico is well-signposted as you enter the airport, with plenty of parking available and helpful assistants on hand. It’s open from 10am to 2pm each day, and admittance is free of charge.
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