Tuesday 29th August 2023: The second instalment of a permanent exhibition containing the world’s largest private collection of diecast model aircraft officially opens today at Shannon Airport.
The new Aviation Gallery, situated in the airport terminal building opposite JJ Ruddle's restaurant, is a magnificent exhibition open to the general public. It offers a captivating journey through the evolution of aviation, showcasing an unparalleled collection, meticulously amassed over many years by Limerick man, Mike Kelly.
The first installation opened in 2018 and houses over 1,500 model aircraft in the Departures Lounge, making Shannon Airport a true haven for aviation enthusiasts.
Mary Considine, CEO of The Shannon Airport Group, expressing her excitement about the new exhibition said, "Mike, through his determination and love of aviation, has managed to amass the largest private collection of model diecast aircraft in the world. It was important to all our employees to make the permanent collection free to view and accessible for the public to enjoy.
“Aviation is in our DNA at Shannon and we were inspired by the positive response we got from our airside model aircraft exhibition which we opened in 2018. This second installment of the collection is a fascinating journey through the evolution of aviation. It is a way of preserving a rich aviation heritage and is in keeping with an airport that has probably broken more frontiers than any other of its size in the world."
The Aviation Gallery is suitable for visitors of all ages. From the early pioneers of aviation to the iconic planes that shaped commercial travel, this collection honours the ingenuity and progress of the aviation industry.
The new exhibition showcases over 900 model aircraft and an array of aircraft types from every corner of the world, dating back to the 1930s and extending to the present day. This new attraction is a testament to the lifelong passion and endless enthusiasm for all things aviation of Mike Kelly (72), who has cherished his love for Shannon Airport since his childhood in the late 1950s.
Mike's dedication to collecting these model aircraft, many of which are exceedingly rare, has resulted in a breathtaking display that is sure to captivate the hearts of the general public and aviation enthusiasts worldwide.
Among the impressive models on display are the full collection of Concordes, a complete fleet of VC 10's, the legendary Sunderland aircraft once owned by Al Capone, and the Super Trailer Limited, the oldest aircraft replicated in the collection.
In addition, the gallery also features the full collection of Ryanair and Aer Lingus aircraft, alongside the iconic Antonov 225 carrying the space shuttle – a testament to Shannon Airport's historic designation as an alternate landing strip for the US Space Shuttle, thanks to its long runway.
Mike Kelly, the collector extraordinaire, shared his profound love for Shannon Airport and his passion for the model aircraft on display, saying, "Shannon Airport holds a special place in my heart. As a young boy, watching planes take off and land ignited my fascination with aviation, and that passion has never waned. I am incredibly grateful to Shannon Airport for helping me share this extraordinary collection with the world. Many of these model aircraft are extremely rare and hold a wealth of history and significance. It is a dream come true to see them on display here at Shannon Airport."
The first exhibition, unveiled in 2018, has been a tremendous success, drawing famous visitors such as aviation enthusiast and Hollywood icon John Travolta, who is a regular visitor to Shannon Airport.
The Aviation Gallery promises to further enhance Shannon Airport's reputation and exemplifies its constant focus on making it an easy and enjoyable experience for passengers and visitors alike