There was a wide range of fascinating aircraft that flew through Foynes during the flying boat days. Here is a brief synopsis of three of the main aircraft. You can learn more about these and other aircraft in the museum.
The Boeing 314 “Clipper” was a long-range flying boat produced by Boeing in response to Pan American’s request for a flying boat with unprecedented range capability. It is comparable to the British Short Empire. One of the largest aircraft of the time, twelve were built for Pan American World Airways, three of which were sold to BOAC in 1941 before delivery.
Unfortunately there are no remaining B314s, however we have the worlds only full size replica B314 flying boat, finished to faithful and accurate detail to the original B314.
Short S.30—Empire Boat
The Short Empire was a passenger and mail carrying flying boat, of the 1930s and 1940s, which flew between Britain and British colonies in Africa, Asia and Australia. It was manufactured by Short Brothers and was the precursor to the more famous Short Sunderland of World War II. In the United States, its contemporary was the Boeing 314.
The origins of the Empire boats lay in an Air Ministry requirement for passenger and mail carriers that could service the colonies particularly to make the connection to Australia. The S.30 series, Cabot, Caribou, Clyde and Connemara, fitted with in-flight refuelling equipment and extra fuel tanks could be used for a transatlantic airmail service.
Sikorsky VS-44 were large four-engined USA flying boats built to compete in the transatlantic air travel trade carrying 40 or more passengers across the Atlantic Ocean. Only three were produced, Excalibur, Excambian and Exeter all ordered by American Export Airlines. Sikorsky’s standard of luxury boasted full-length beds, dressing rooms, full galley, snack bar, lounge and fully controlled ventilation.
During World War II, under a Navy contract the three VS-44’s continued flying between New York and Foynes carrying passengers, freight and war material. The first VS-44, Excalibur crashed on takeoff in 1942, ending her life early. After the war, the big Sikorsky ‘boats continued to fly for the airline, which had renamed itself American Overseas Airlines (AOA) and was operated by American Airlines.