Sunday, February 23, 2014

A visit to Sweden's Aeroseum

I've been saving these for a good time - namely, the middle of winter when there's no flying.

You'll have to forgive my month-plus blogging hiatus. Between some very long hours at work and this year's arctic weather, Cubbin' (or Cessnain') has been difficult, to say the least. It actually warmed up this week but now the field's too soft. The joys of being based out of a grass strip!

So, back to the topic of this post. I traveled to Sweden on business last June. Since I was there a couple weeks, I had some time to myself and took the opportunity to travel up to Gothenburg. While scanning for things to do I discovered they have an aviation museum. You can probably imagine I didn't think twice about embarking on such a weekend excursion.

The Aeroseum is pretty unique. You see, it's housed in a formerly top-secret, nuclear-bomb-proof underground bunker; it was only declassified in 2003. I think it goes without saying that's a pretty awesome backstory.  So, I hopped a train up to Gothenburg, caught a bus to the airport, and walked the final kilometer up a winding road to reach the museum's entrance.

It did not disappoint.

There isn't much to see from the entrance near the bus stop...

...although a Saab J-35 Draken does greet visitors

Further down the road, the actual entrance appears

Entrance fee paid, you walk down into the side of the hill

Looking out, the taxiway exits up towards the airfield

Thick concrete blast doors let you know this is a serious bunker

Stepping inside, the underground taxiway begins a gradual descent

Saab 91A Safir - a three-seat, single engine trainer

J29F "Flying Barrel", built by Saab

Saab J35J Draken, the first Swedish-built aircraft to exceed Mach 1 in level flight

Saab AJSH 37 Viggen, equipped with a camera pod for maritime surveillance

The Viggen's rear end

The tunnel could be sectioned off with fire doors/curtains in an emergency

HKP2 Alouette II (right) and HKP 3C Agusta Bell 204B "Huey" (left)

"Nose" art on the HKP 3C helicopter

Saab 99 equipped to measure runway friction

The fifth wheel was used for braking action reports

Saab J35J Draken and a Reims Cessna F337G Skymaster

Turntable on the floor to turn aircraft so they could be rolled into servicing bays

Saab J35J Draken Cockpit

Saab J35J Draken Cockpit

Saab J35J Draken Cockpit

Ejection seats

Map of the museum and the tunnel network

Saab J32E Lansen (the "sports" model with an afterburner)

They had numerous simulators you could fly while seated in a real cockpit

HKP4 Boeing Vertol CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter, built in Japan by Kawasaki

You could see the blasted rock walls in spots throughout the bunker

de Haviland DH.60 Gill Moth Major, a 1920s touring and training aircraft

Focke-Wulf Fw-44J Stieglitz, used by the Swedish Air Force as a trainer

Looking down one of the long tunnels towards the restoration area

The Gothenburg Veteran Flying Association stores and maintains their aircraft in the tunnels

I mean, what's not to like?

Anyone with the good sense to have a Cub gets an A+ in my book!

Another project aircraft in the GVFA area of the bunker

As you can see, all types of aeronautical toys are stored 100 feet underground

A radar on display

Saab AJSH 37 Viggen Cockpit

Saab AJSH 37 Viggen Cockpit

Saab AJSH 37 Viggen Cockpit

Walking back up towards ground level on my way out of the museum

Talk about an absolutely unique experience. Although the collection of aircraft might not be vast (I do live near the USAF Museum, after all) the Aeroseum is still 100% worth a visit. How often do you get to go inside a (formerly) secret Cold War nuclear bunker and look at airplanes?

The staff were also very friendly and helpful - and spoke English! The museum wasn't too busy the Sunday I visited but I'm not sure if that's the norm; it's a bit of a trip to visit on a regular basis. I should also note that the price was quite reasonable - 100 SEK (about $15 USD) for an adult admission. I highly recommend AeroResource's great article about the museum if you're interested in learning more about its history.

Regarding the photos - apologies for the graininess present in many of them. I brought my smaller, non-DSLR camera with me on the trip since it travels better. However, it also doesn't have nearly the same low-light performance.

I had a few more hours in town after visiting the museum. Gothenburg is a beautiful city and I walked around, taking in as many sights as possible. I also grabbed a bite to eat, a seriously delicious lunch - give Moon Thai a shot if you're ever there.

Vasa Church (Vasakyrkan) 

Storgatan (High Street), where I had lunch

Walking along the canal that encircles the city center

Gothenburg Central Station (Göteborgs centralstation)

Trädgårdsföreningen (Garden Society of Gothenburg) 

Canal and lock next to the train station

As for the present, I haven't flown since New Year's Day. There really haven't been more than a couple opportunities since then. I'm hoping to get back into the groove a bit; Daylight Savings starts back up in only a couple weeks, so that always helps.

Until then, I hope this post provides a bit of aviation amusement!


  1. Awesome pictures as always! While I enjoy the aircraft pictures and peek into the past I have have to admit I love the architecture just as much. I would be interested to read more about the shelter and its construction too....the engineer in me.

    I did get a laugh....only you could travel that distance and still zero in on a cub!

  2. "Awesome backstory" pretty well covers it. The unique environs aside, it must have been pretty interesting to see a whole bunch of aircraft that we usually don't experience first hand. Maybe you should have entitled this post "Saab Story". :-) Congratulations on a great trip!

    1. Oh that's punny... my mind was not as sharp as yours in the late hours when I was writing this post!

      It really was a cool, unique site. I was as interested in the structure (as Gary said above) as I was in the contents. And you're right - I probably saw more Saab aircraft in one day than I had in my life up to that point.

  3. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for your post about Aeroseum.

    Since I am planning to visit Aeroseum in June, can you tell me how did you get there from Gothenburg Central Station in detail? I still not sure how to go to there.



    1. Hey Ryan - sorry it took me a couple days to reply!

      The trip from the central station was pretty simple. You need to take Bus Route #35 to the museum. To get to the bus from the central station, you can either walk (I did this - it took me under 30 minutes) to Hjalmar Brantingsplatsen or take the SVART Express.

      Check out Gothenburg's Västtrafik route planner to map out your exact route. Here's a PDF of an example itinerary I just created.

  4. Those are some cool photos! It's nice to see an underground taxiway, as most people don't see one that often. You could tell that people those days were planning for every possible contingency. While it's true that there aren't that much aircraft to be seen, the ambiance must had been something else. Thanks for sharing!

    Raymond Curry @ Holstein Aviation

  5. Hi Steve,

    Thank you for visiting my beautiful country and the Aeroseum aviation museum. :-) Just a small correction to your blog post: The final three cockpit images in your photo sequence are not the SAAB J 35 Draken but from the SAAB AJ 37 Viggen. Compare the 60-70s era technology Viggen to the three further up, which are indeed from the older, considerably more cramped 50s technology Draken cockpit.

    Best regards,
    /Benny L
    Stockholm, Sweden

    1. Benny - good catch, appreciate it! I've updated the post with the proper labels.