the early dreams of flight, the pioneering era and its break-neck manoeuvres, via the humble beginnings of commercial air travel to today, where flying is a rather mundane activity.
The exhibit showcases the emergence and growth of Norwegian aviation, and how it is fundamental to our current way of life. Air travel makes it possible for us to live in sparsely populated districts and small communities, close to natural resources, but at the same time have access to larger, urban centres.
The history of aviation in Norway is also the history of the development of modern Norwegian society. The exhibition follows a timeline and presents selected themes for a more detailed look.
Dreams of flight
It all started with a dream. Inspired by birds, seeds and insects, man used creativity and technical know-how to build a craft capable of flight. The museum celebrates this dream made reality with a large cabinet of wonders, holding many different artefacts associated with this dream of flight.
In the exhibit, you’ll get acquainted with Martha, Eskil and the Grunau gang. They all realized their dreams of flight. Martha saw planes flying overhead in Steigen and dreamed of flying. As an adult, she piloted both airplanes and helicopters. Eskil wanted to become either a farmer or a pilot. He became a test pilot for the new F-35 fighter planes. The Grunau gang lived out their dream of building their own plane, a Grunau glider, in their parents’ bedroom.
Pioneer era. Birth of a nation.
When Norway gained its independence in 1905, aviation was still in its infancy. The first aviators were brave, dedicated and adventurous. Over the years, as new technology was developed, airlines and air routes were established all over Europe.
Norway was a bit of a late bloomer in terms of utilizing the new technology and the opportunities it offered. Several pioneers tried establishing airlines and air routes, but were ultimately not successful. Roald Amundsen made a name for himself by using airplanes and airships to explore the area around the North Pole.
A people connected and united
In the period between 1930 and 1975, aviation in Norway saw a remarkable development. In 1935, the Norwegian government offered financial support and organization, and regular sea plane routes were established. Weather conditions and navigation proved to be a challenge. After the war, planes became more and more advanced. New airports were built, airlines formed, and air routes completely changed Norwegian society.
Norway, a historically seafaring nation, became completely dependent on air traffic. Air traffic grew, from only being accessible to a small number of very rich people, to becoming a means of mass transit, with air routes to even the most remote locations. Aviation, therefore, connected us as a nation. During this same time period, aviation also connected Norway to the rest of the world.
Our shared wealth
Over the course of the 1970s, most of Norway had been connected via a network of airports and routes. At the same time, our country had also developed into a welfare state. There were strong demands for better transport, a more comprehensive rescue service and more frequent travel opportunities. The technological development took aviation to new heights and into space. Rockets were used for both research and defence.
While air travel was still relatively expensive, it eventually became commonplace. The extraction of oil from the North Sea made Norway a wealthy nation. This, in turn, boosted the expansion of aviation. At the beginning of the 21st century, air travel was both common and cheap. Air travel had become the new public transport.
Aviation is central to life in Norway. Many systems have to be coordinated to keep air travel safe and effective. But how do these systems work? How do we get the planes in the air? How can airports operate effectively? Can something as small as a bolt affect aviation safety?
And, most importantly: How can we use what we know today for increased safety in the future?
How do we fly?
How is it possible for a heavy metal plane to take off? The “How do we fly?” exhibit has a lot of activity stations for you to try out. Experiment with air and pressure – maybe you’ll have a lightbulb moment? The Cessna 150 light aircraft is open. Get behind the controls and make some dreams of your own
The cabinet of the future
What will the future look like? Which types of challenges are aviation facing? The cabinet of the future is the last stop of the exhibit, but it also looks ahead. Pollution is a major environmental problem currently haunting our planet. How can we solve it? Are electric planes the answer? Will we be able to overcome this monumental hurdle with creativity, inspiration from nature and new technology?