According to written records, this already middle-aged institution was founded at the initiative of a group of enthusiasts at Air Force Command in Zemun in February 1957; that its first exhibition was held in May at the old Belgrade airport; that its expansion was supported in its early days by domestic civil aviation institutions and enterprises.
A joint decision was made in the late 1960s for a new Museum building to be constructed at the premises of Belgrade’s international airport in Surčin.
The construction of the large and complex building, covering more than 10,700 square meters, was launched in the mid-1970s, but technical and financial difficulties caused significant delays to the project.
Construction of the Museum building was not completed until 1988. This was also when the first permanent exhibition was set up and opened to the public on May 21, 1989.
That year, architect Ivan Štraus of Sarajevo received the prestigious “Yugoslav” award from the Borba daily newspaper for design of the Museum building and its surrounding complex. Since then, the Aviation Museum’s permanent exhibition has attracted the attention of numerous domestic and foreign visitors, ranking it among the most popular and most-frequently visited sites in Serbia.
All these aircraft played a key role in decisive battles across Europe, Africa and Asia, but they were also used in operations by and formed a part of the Yugoslav armed forces.
Continuing the tour of the exhibition, visitors can also see a number of aircraft and helicopters that are more familiar, as they were manufactured some time in the 1950-1980 period. Perhaps the most interesting part of the latter section of the exhibition are parts of the US F-117 Nighthawk Stealth fighter bomber and the F-16, as well as an assortment of pilotless drones -all of which were shot down over Serbia during the 1999 Nato bombing campaign.
The exhibition’s central section is taken up by the domestic Galeb, Jastreb and Orao jet aircraft – constructed at the Aviation and Technical Institute in Žarkovo and manufactured in the Soko and Utva factories. All of them made a name for themselves at international exhibitions and air shows.
Included among the displays of domestic aircraft are a number of locally-designed gliders.