wandering amphibia

A visit to Frankfurt – Speyer Museum

So we continue on to Speyer museum, which is a sister museum to Sinsheim Auto & Technik. The two main attractions of this museum are the Lufthansa Boeing 747 mounted high up in the sky, where you can walk on one of the wings, and the Buran spacecraft.

The entrance has a bunch of planes hanging over it already.



Continuing the theme of Sinsheim, a variety of cars and other engine-powered things is sitting around.


Some old cars are present as well.


Oh! Another 300SL. For the number of years I’ve been looking for the damn thing, there’s a COMPLETE overload of them between Speyer and Sinsheim. Now there’s pretty much only one car off my teenage faplist that I’ve not seen… the Porsche 959 (and just to cut the suspense, I did not find it in either of these museums…. but oddly enough, I saw it on the streets of Torrance, California a few months after this – but that’s another story…)


Such a beautiful silhouette.


There’s also a steam locomotive. Because you know, engines.


A Mini racecar. I’m still seriously considering buying an old one at one point and rallying in it. It’s got to be completely exhilarating.


A BMW 503 coupe.


And a Chevrolet Stingray – C2 generation. That turtleshell-like back… oh baby. They knew how to design cars back in the 60s (although they sure as hell didn’t know how to design cars that went around corners, but then again, they didn’t really need to, considering how straight the roads were…)


Some visitable planes. This is a Soviet An-26…


… a cargo one, actually …


… with a typical Soviet switch-a-vaganza dashboard…


… and a – what the hell????? – a Chaika in the hold! Apparently, it was used by the trade mission in East Germany (but I don’t really understand how it ended up inside this plane).


Another odd thing was the sign on this toilet. It says, “to flush, close lid 2-3 times.” I can’t even fathom as to why a single time is insufficient. Is it an implication of the content of the flushable item being so unflushable that multiple flushes are needed? Or is it a tacit admission that the flushing mechanism only works about 33% of the time? I have no explanation for this.


A Dassault Mercure-100 that used to belong to Air Inter. Nothing particularly spectacular about this particular plane, but it’s always interesting to see a 30-40 year old plane’s interior.


… it’s pretty damn similar to a typical European local jet these days.


Cockpit with lots of handles and switches.


This is one of the main attractions. Basically, Lufthansa has been retiring a lot of its 747s, and this particular one, D-ABYM, was retired in 2001 after having flown for almost 30 years. It was then shipped to Speyer and reassembled, and absolutely unexpectedly, D-ABYM is now re-registered to one of their brand new 747-800s, which is kind of awesome – they kept the registration number alive.


It’s mounted high. Really, really, REALLY high.


This is the rear of the plane, where they emptied it to show just how much space there really is inside. And this is the top part, as well – not the cargo hold.


*This* is the cargo hold. The 747 seriously, really, has a crapload of space.


Middle section of the plane – economy.


Front of the plane – business class. This is the old layout of the Lufthansa seat, where the business class was located in the front of the plane, and first class on the second floor of the plane. I have always loved this layout, though I also absolutely abhorred these seats when I flew them (if only because they never went fully flat, so it was completely impossible to sleep in them!). I understand they are “vintage” at this point, but god, Lufthansa business class was absolutely terrible, and the funniest thing? These seats were still “current” as recently as a few years ago!


This is First class – the epitome of luxury, harbinger of the future, and purveyor of the caviar with onions, egg and vodka stereotype. These seats were a little bit less terrible than the business class seats – at least they went fully flat – and the fact that they were on the second floor made them so much more awesome. Immediately on boarding, you were shuttled away into this private paradise of okay champagne, acceptable wines and delectable delicacies (I never did like Lufthansa’s someliers, and it didn’t help they’d overload their flights with sweet’ish Rieslings which I absolutely can’t stand) cool and professional hospitality (which, I guess, is okay). When they were retrofitting all 747s to the “new” first class, where the dual-seat configuration was configured to 1 seat + 1 flat bed, if you were unlucky enough to have been allocated an old plane, you’d end up with a free seat next to you – they sold two seats for the price of one, in tacit recognition that they sucked.


The front-seat view to the world of awesome.


I wonder if there is a single human out there who actually knows the function of ALL these switches? This is the flight engineer’s seat, by the way.


The walk on the wing.


View of the plane from the wing.


View of the … I’m sure you can’t guess what that thing is that says “Lufthansa” on it. I don’t know, I just had to switch up the explanation a bit.


Belly view. You don’t really understand just how big a 747 is until you stand underneath it. Admittedly, you can’t really tell it from a picture, either. I’m barely the size of a wheel, and I’m far from a vertically challenged individual. If it helps, I’m using a 28mm lens, so it’s bordering on wide angle, and I can’t even get the wings and the nose into the same picture.


The next curiosity was the Buran. There were several made, and this is where the story gets super-sad. I mentioned it tangentially in my Sinsheim post, but it saddens me profoundly that most of the Russian military, air and space equipment that has actually been preserved to any reasonable degree is – guess where? – NOT in Russia! Mostly because things have become so dilapidated there that nobody even cares about anything anymore, and as a result, the only objects that managed to survive were ones that got shuttled (pun!) away during the turbulent 1990s when you could buy anything from imported salmon to aluminum and diamond mines if you were so inclined. The owner of Speyer picked up this Buran for $10M, which seems like piffling change compared to the amount of pride that went into building it.


View from the bottom.


Control panel. More screens here!


Cargo hold. The interesting thing about the Buran was that its launch system (Energiya), unlike the Space Shuttle, was designed to actually carry a payload into orbit. The Space Shuttle launch system was designed to only launch the Space Shuttle; coupled with the fact that Buran could carry several metric tons more cargo than the Shuttle (on top of the 100 metric tons that Energiya could carry), this meant it was a far more efficient payload delivery system. It just never really did.


View from the Buran pad down into the exhibition hall. Cars, trucks – all sorts of stuff down there!


A view back onto the Buran’s engines.


Here’s the wet dream of a redneck – racing trucks!


And as a final pair of neat exhibits – here’s an Antonov An-22, which to this day, is the largest ever turboprop airplane built.


That landing gear is even more insane than the 747’s.


You can put a tank inside. Or six. Or a few helicopters. It’s really huge. If I were an American, I’d measure it in incomprehensible football fields (this plane is at least six football fields large! I don’t play football, so I don’t know if that’s a lot or a little, though.)


There was a temporary tractor exhibit going on, as well. It appeared that the exhibits were on temporary loan from the collections of the local residents; said residents might have actually arrived on said exhibits.


And just in case trains, planes and automobiles is insufficient for you… here’s a freaking *submarine* as well.


All in all, Sinsheim and Speyer are absolutely worth a visit. Sinsheim more so than Speyer, but that’s just because I’m so attached to the damn supersonic jets (although the fapfest of 1980s sports cars is hard to dodge, as well).

Fascinating display of modern technology in an easy to consume, though totally haphasard, layout.