The latter half of the twentieth century was full of illusions. We lived in an illusion of peace, an illusion that Europe was not at war and that the horrors of the Second World War would not be repeated. But in reality, society was preparing for the next war. As children we donned thin plastic ponchos and practiced how to survive a chemical or nuclear attack out in the fields. The threat of a new military conflict hung in the air constantly. History now denotes this time of apparent peace more accurately as the Cold War. It lasted for several long decades, passed through various phases, crises, milestones, victories and defeats, but peace was only illusory.
Air forces were one of the most important military branches during this era. East and West competed in speed, flying range and numerical superiority. Technical development forced both sides to quickly replace large numbers of machines, which is why we can now find surplus aircraft from the Cold War on display in military museums.
As I started my search, I soon found that, as opposed to old cars, planes are not often found in barns or backyards. It is not easy for private owners to get their hands on military machines. I hence focused on museums and associations for aviation enthusiasts. The Czech Republic is a wonderful country in this sense, because Czechs are sentimental people and try to keep things alive even if it does not make sense financially. I presume that is why we have so many aviation museums. But the thing is, I am not interested in those nicely restored, polished planes. I am after old, rusty ones. And so I had to look for collectors who could not afford expensive restorations and who were showing history the way I wanted it – authentic and dilapidated. And since repairing planes is such a demanding hobby, I ended up finding plenty. The photos were taken 2014–2019 in five countries: Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, Poland and Cuba.