Source | Ängelholm Flygmuseum | 09 September 2023 4 minutes
On the initiative of members from F10 Kamratförening, the Swedish Ängelholm Aviation Museum opened in 2004 and began its exciting journey. Starting with only a few thousand visitors a year the museum now welcomes around 20,000 visitors annually.
In order to maintain national sovereignty during WWII Sweden’s Armed Forces Headquarters understood the need for an air force operating from its southern part. In 1940 the decision to establish a base was made and the quickest way to do this was by using an existing airport. The airport Bulltofta, a large grass airfield located slightly east of Malmö, was chosen as base. Rapidly three hangars, three squadron barracks, and a workshop were built opposite the civilian air terminal. Staff quarters and remaining essential facilities were set up in suitable buildings outside of the airport.
While the strenuous neutrality operations during the war continued at Bulltofta, a new permanent air base was built 100 km north of Malmö outside the town of Ängelholm. In 1945 the new F10 Air Base was opened and continued the air defence of southern Sweden until it was decommissioned in 2002 following a political decision. Until the 1980’s, the air base Kungliga Skånska Flygfottiljen F10 consisted of three fighter squadrons. In 1985 Austria purchased 24 used J 35 B “Draken” from SAAB after requested upgrades had been made. The Swedish Air Force undertook the training of the Austrian pilots and the main responsibility was entrusted to F10. The majority of the education was carried out at Ängelholm using the 2 seater trainer version SK 35C. With the assistance of Swedish supervisors stationed in Graz the training was gradually transferred to Austria were the final stages were completed.
The Cold War ended in 1991 when the Soviet Union ceased as a state. Following the decommission of several Swedish air bases F10 acquired AJ 37 Viggen in 1993, which was improved and modified into AJS 37 (Attack / Attack, Jakt / Fighter, Spaning / Reconnaissance). This was the predecessor of JAS 39 Gripen. In 1998 the military basic flight training was transferred to F10 and the air base received a great number of SK 60 (SAAB 105). To meet the demands of the new millennia, extensive investments were made during 1999 which resulted in F10 becoming one of Europe’s most modern air bases, and the world’s second JAS 39 Gripen base. The rest is political history.
During the 1980’s the F10 Air Base established a Comrade Association and offered memberships to both military staff and conscripts. At the time of decommission the Association had approximately 600 members. Today the number has increased to about 2000 members and the membership application is open to everyone, military and civilian alike. As the decommission was taking place discussions began as to whether there was any interest in maintaining a small museum of surplus materials. Instead of throwing everything away a few members of staff had collected various interesting items. The Comrade Association recognised the historical value of these and began negotiations with the new owner of the airport. Finally, in 2004, after a year of negotiations, an agreement was made that allowed the Association to rent one of the hangar buildings and its offices.
Volunteers, including pensioners and staff who had chosen to remain at Ängelholm when operations were moved to other air bases, worked hard to get the museum ready for opening. Around 70 people built display cabinets, painted the interior and prepared the items for viewing. The original exhibition contained the surplus materials and various other items which had been hidden away when the air base was emptied of all materials in 2003. The opening went as planned, but as there were relatively few items visitors only needed to pay 50 percent of the entrance fee. As more items were collected and displayed, visitors were eventually asked to pay the full fee, which was needed to cover rent of the hangar building.
The museum’s main aim is to educate visitors on what life was like at F10 for both military and civilian staff, as well as conscripts doing compulsory national service for nine months. Among the items displayed are equipment and aircraft, including the first Swedish made fighter aircraft J22 and an aircraft from the first batch of JAS 39 Gripen. There are also items and information depicting daily life at the base relating to ground defence, handling services, meteorology, airspace surveillance and war base operations. If you would like to experience what it’s like to be a pilot, you can buckle up in any of the museum’s three flight simulators. There are different test levels available and the simulators are open to all ages. Ticket are available at the box office.
For more information, the opening hours of the museum and booking a simulator flight please check out www.engelholmsflygmuseum.se