When elders would tell me I ought to grow up to be a doctor, my clever comeback was that I'd become a pilot. Alas, neither outcome realized, but I did check out the Air Force Museum near where I live, and it made me feel like a child again.
Though the air force is the youngest of the three forces and was established only in 1949, it's museum is pretty formidable going as far back as World War II till the end of the war.
There are over 30 aircrafts on display, and a lot of them are on display outside, even allowing you to climb into some.
It's pretty easy to find your way around the museum as there's a pretty comprehensive map right at the entrance and the path is straightforward. It's quite an expanse of land but there's so much going on that it feels smaller. You could spend an hour or two properly reading the info and exploring the exhibits.
There are three hangars, though only one of them displays aircraft. Aircrafts on display include the Avro transporter, FT-5 trainer and MI 24 attack helicopter.
The other two are for artefacts ranging from weapons to radios and classic cars
– because no museum is complete without a Mercedes Benz. Apparently this is Premadasa's Benz. Classy.
What's cool is that they have no issue with visitors taking photographs. When I asked, the officer at the ticket counter said, "The war is over, no? You can take photos."
They've even got a model of Ravana's ride, the Dandu Monara, that was allegedly his means of transport to fly by the castle and kidnap the princess. You know how the story goes.
They've even got a souvenier shop though for all the good stuff you have to place orders that take 2 months to get to you. These include some pretty neat models of aircraft used by the Sri Lankan Air Force, and they're priced reasonably between Rs 1500 and Rs 3000.
The Museum is located next to the Rathmalana Airport. You need to go down the airport road, pass KDU and the airport and keep going. The museum entrance will be to your left.
Opening times are 9AM – 5PM, pretty much every day, and it's a Rs 100 ticket for locals, and Rs 25 for local kids. Foreigners are charged $10 and $3 for kids.
Don't forget your camera.