Discovering German aviation history in Friedrichshafen

In the month of April I made a week-long trip with Michel, discovering German aviation history in Friedrichshafen, Danish railways history in Odense and navigating the sea to discover some Estonian history in Tallinn.

The main reason we ended up in Friedrichshafen was to fly on the rare Dornier 328 operated by Sun Air of Scandinavia, but as we were there we made good use of our time by exploring some history.

Despite its remote location Friedrichshafen has been the epicentre of German Aviation history for a number of years. The nearby location of Lake Constance (Bodensee) made for an ideal test ground for water aircraft, while there were plenty of fields to construct an airport for landplanes and some hangars for airships.

The First museum we visited was the Dornier Museum, located right next door to the airport (and our hotel for the night). It focuses mostly on the history of landplanes in Germany and of course specialises in the Dornier factory history.

Before entering the building there is a Dornier 31 VTOL aircraft parked in front of the entrance, before seeing this model I never knew Germany actually successfully constructed VTOL aircraft.


After entering the building and paying your entrance fee (there is a combi ticket with the Zeppelin museum in the city centre, probably the most interesting ticket to buy) you are directed upstairs where you will be taken through the timeline of German aviation history.

Here they have a number of artifacts and models on display to highlight the developments made.


After exiting the timeline you are walking over an upstairs gallery with a number of technology displays on one side and overlooking the main hangar on the other side. In the main hangar there are a number of Dornier planes on display, together with some more specific displays telling more about certain subjects.


The bigger planes can be found parked outside, amongst them a Dornier 328, the company’s final model, which we would be flying on the next day.


When we were visiting there was an also a temporary exhibition in a side room about the compact cars built in Germany after the second world war that helped take the country to the roads.


After finishing at the Dornier museum we took the bus to the city centre where the Zeppelin museum is located in the former harbour train station building. The Building itself is a prime example of 1920’s modernist style and is of course a fitting home to host the history of airships which had their heyday during the interbellum.


The most eye catching part is the reconstruction of a part of the Hindenburg, so you can really get an idea of how huge this airship must have been. The outside part is only a tiny fragment of what the main structure used to be, but the inside passenger spaces give you a clear idea of how the atmosphere on-board must have been and how small it was in comparison to the entire airship.


The rest of the museum talks about how life on-board was, what the history and development of the airships was and also how the techniques behind them work.


On the top level there is an art gallery holding some of the art works owned by the city of Friedrichshafen. They are not directly connected to the history of Airships but they make good use of an otherwise unused space.

If you ever are in the Bodensee region and interested in aviation a day out to Friedrichshafen to visit its museums is really a must. Both of them where some of the most interesting and though out aviation museums I have visited to date. They also talk about parts of aviation history that are generally forgotten or not talked about. And best of all they are complimentary to each other and even refer to each other to encourage you to visit both.

Would you consider a visit yourself? Let us know in the comments below!


10 Comments Add yours

  1. Do you have a link for the Dornier Museum, and do you happen to recall the name / make of the yellow compact car? It looks like a 3-wheeler.


    1. Danny says:

      Of course the Dornier museum can be found on:
      The yellow car is a Messerschmitt KR200: made by another former german aviation company forced to diversify after WWII

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve heard of the Messerschmitt but have never seen one. Thank you so much for posting this!

        Liked by 1 person

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