Polish Aviation Museum was opened in 1964. It exhibits an impressive collection of over 200 aircraft. Several of the pieces displayed are unique on a world scale, including sailplanes and some 100 aircraft engines. Among the exhibits are also 22 extremely rare airplanes that once formed part of the personal collection of Hermann Göring.
Polish Aviation Museum in Krakow 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 and is still open for occasional traffic by certain types of aircraft, as well as for certain public events like festivals.
The aircraft (both propeller and jet) displayed by the museum include a great variety of vehicles: fighters, bombers, passenger aeroplanes, gliders, motor gliders or helicopters, among others. The planes come from different periods and countries, mainly from the (then) Soviet Union, Poland and Germany.
The 22 rare planes that once belonged to Herman Göring were evacuated during World War II 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. 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. There are only two examples of pre-war Polish military aircraft in the collection: a PZL P.11 (the only surviving example in the world) and a PWS-26. They survived only because they were displayed as war trophies by the Germans, and so were part of the aforementioned 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. Besides the planes, the museum also houses a large aviation library and photographic archives.