The Boeing 314 has become the “Quintessential” Pan Am clipper flying boat – the one people think of when they recall the era during which Foynes flourished as the hub of aviation activity between North America and Europe.
Sadly none remain intact today to see. We decided that we needed to offer our visitors the experience of how it must have actually been to be a passenger on one of these wonderful aircraft.
We had the original idea to build just one compartment of the aircraft. After discussing the project with John Harrison, our Historical Interpreter and Designer, who in turn engaged Bill Fallover, film set designer and builder and model maker, a decision came back that we should build a full scale model!! We thought he must be mad, but he was convinced that he could do it.
With Bills extremely imaginative and gifted craftsmen, we had the physical means to get the project underway, but we needed funding. We sincerely felt this would be a world class exhibit – the only one of it’s kind in the world, and one that Ireland would be proud of for years to come. So, we went to Minister John O’Donoghue, Minister for Arts Sport & Tourism, and asked him for more funding to try and build this aircraft. Seeing the potential for the project, he agreed and was eventually able to secure the funds.
It took Bill and his Team approximately 10 months to build our replica which was transported in sections by night in big wide loads to Foynes, lifted in on site by large cranes and assembled there on site, where it sits today.
The entire process was filmed from the very beginning, and along with other materials, it was used to create a documentary of the history of the famous Pan Am Clipper Flying Boats and the crews that flew them, with special emphasis on our own replica Boeing 314. This film is now available in DVD form from our museum shop.
A visit to the museum is essential to get the full experience of this amazing aircraft.