The world’s largest collection of model aircraft has gone on permanent display at Shannon Airport, Ireland.
The collection of more than 1,500 diecast models was accumulated over a 50-year period by Michael Kelly, 67, from Farranshone, Limerick. The retired plumber began assembling the collection from his mid-teens and spent €25,000 (US$29,000) on the models each year at the project’s peak. After the collection outgrew his farmhouse near the River Shannon, Kelly sought a new home for his passion at Shannon Airport. It will be officially opened this fall, but is already on display and has drawn much attention from curious travelers.
The collection, which is housed in display units in a dedicated gallery area just off the departures lounge, includes every popular aircraft to have flown as well as many lesser well known, right up to modern-day versions.
All aircraft are 1:200 in scale and include a range of Concorde models; the Sunderland aircraft owned by Al Capone from the 1930s; the world’s largest aircraft to fly commercially, the Antonov; the largest aircraft never to fly, the Spruce Goose of the Hughes Aircraft Company; the first Ryanair Boeing 737 aircraft; and the full Aer Lingus collection from its beginnings.
Commenting on the collection, Niall Maloney, director of operations at Shannon Airport, said, “Once you meet Michael, his enthusiasm, his knowledge of all these aircraft comes across instantly. He knows every aircraft type, has all the history behind where these aircraft were, where they were flown, who they’ve flown. This is the world’s largest diecast model collection. We’re just delighted, with Michael’s goodwill, that it’s based here now in Shannon.”
Kelly added, “I don’t regret a bit of it. It was a very hard journey that I absolutely adored. No regrets. I’m chuffed that they’re in Shannon now. It’s a job well done as far as I’m concerned. I feel personally that it’s a great achievement.”