The Foynes Fying Boat Museum

Any photos, plans, drawings, directions, helpful hints on visting places where flying boats have been operated from historically, or are being operated from today. I am always interested in receiving 'Then & Now' type photographs to assist current day visitors to these place. I'm trying to record the best places to visit before they disappear for ever.

The Foynes Fying Boat Museum

Postby flyernzl » Fri Nov 06, 2015 10:24 am

During my recent visit to Ireland, the Foynes Fying Boat Museum was on my 'must see' list.

Foynes is a village and major port in County Limerick in the midwest of Ireland, located at the edge of hilly land on the southern bank of the Shannon Estuary. The population of the town was 606 as of the 2006 census.

During the late 1930s and early 1940s, land-based planes lacked sufficient flying range for Atlantic crossings. Foynes was the last port of call on its eastern shore for seaplanes. As a result, Foynes would became one of the biggest civilian airports in Europe during World War II. Surveying flights for flying boat operations were made by Charles Lindbergh in 1933 and a terminal was begun in 1935. The first transatlantic proving flights were operated on July 5, 1937 with a Pan Am Sikorsky S-42 service from Botwood, Newfoundland and Labrador on the Bay of Exploits and a BOAC Short Empire service from Foynes with successful transits of twelve and fifteen-and-a-quarter hours respectively. Services to New York, Southampton, Montreal, Poole and Lisbon followed, the first non-stop New York service operating on June 22, 1942 in 25 hours 40 minutes.

All of this changed following the construction and opening in 1942 of Shannon Airport on flat bogland on the northern bank of the Estuary. Foynes flying-boat station closed in 1946. A college for the learning of the Irish language was opened in the former terminal in 1954. The Port Trustees purchased the building in 1980 and the Foynes Flying Boat Museum leased a portion in 1988.

Once you get to the village, the place is well signposted

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At the entry area, a model of the Boeing 314 sits atop a globe

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Inside the building there is a small theatrette showing a film of the 1940s operations, and the usual collection of charts, radio gear, nav equipment and uniforms.

Some of the period posters are a bit exagerated - but that's quite normal for travel posters!

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The only genuine aircraft bit seems to be this rescued relic off a crashed Sunderland.

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Centrepiece of the musum is this mockup of the Boeing 314. It looks the part.

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You can tour the interior, they seem to have done it quite well.

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No economy class seating here - all first class, and at a first class price.

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The old control tower is open, and gives a view of the mockup as well as the harbour.

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The Irish Coffee legend.
One of Foynes's main claims to fame is the invention there of Irish Coffee. This came about, it is said, in order to alleviate the suffering of cold and wet passengers during its aviation days in the 1930s and early '40s.
They serve it, but I was too dosed up on antibiotics at the time to be allowed such a treat.

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Foynes harbour, still a busy place for freight and fishing boats.
The trees on the left are on an island. The flying boats alighted on the other side of this island and then taxiied into the harbour to moor in the area to the right in the photo.

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The museum is well worth a visit if you are planning atrip to the Emerald Isle.
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Re: The Foynes Fying Boat Museum

Postby AlexNortonesq » Sun Nov 08, 2015 4:18 pm

Thank you.

I haven't been able to make the pilgrimage, yet. This will have to suffice until I make it there.

Alex
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Re: The Foynes Fying Boat Museum

Postby flyernzl » Sun Nov 08, 2015 9:13 pm

The only way to really get to these places is to decide "Right, I'm actually going to go there" and then implement specific plans to actually do it.

Just wishing will never get you there.
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Re: The Foynes Fying Boat Museum

Postby DavidLegg » Thu Nov 12, 2015 9:48 am

I drove to Foynes from Bantry Bay whilst on holiday there last summer - a bit of a mission as it turned out but the scenery was awesome and the trip well worth while.

Here is a short 'review' I wrote for The Catalina News magazine when I got back ...

FOYNES FLYING BOAT & MARITIME MUSEUM by David Legg

In our last edition, I wrote briefly about a number of museums with seaplane connections that were situated along the route of Project Hawker 2013, the round-Britain flight carried out by our Catalina last summer. One museum that was not on the flight path was the Foynes Flying Boat & Maritime Museum but as I discovered during a recent holiday in south-west Ireland, it is well worth a visit…..

The museum is located in the village of Foynes on the Shannon Estuary in County Limerick and is on an expanded site of what was once the original flying boat terminal building. Although demolished in the 1970s, the glazed control tower has been re-constructed atop the main building so that visitors can look over what was once the trans-Atlantic flying boat terminal itself.

The many exhibition rooms contain displays and historical artifacts related to early crossings of the Atlantic, radio and weather forecasting equipment, the various airlines that used Foynes for their Atlantic crossings and a room specifically for younger visitors with inter-active displays and simulators. Great play is made of the fact that on one night in 1943, Chef Joe Sheridan ‘invented’ the Irish Coffee at Foynes when required to provide a stimulating hot drink for some passengers just arrived. Indeed, visitors can sample an Irish Coffee - and much more – in O’Regan’s Restaurant which is situated next to the museum’s gift shop.

The star exhibit is probably the full-size hull replica of a Pan American Boeing 314 flying boat, a type that used Foynes regularly. Although not a totally faithful reproduction in terms of construction, it does give visitors a feel of the size of a trans-Atlantic boat and what the interior could look like.

Foynes was a busy terminal in its time although its future was always at risk because of the promise of long-range landplanes to come. However, as an example, in the first three weeks of September 1943 alone, there were 36 arrivals featuring a variety of types - the Short Sunderland and S.26, the Boeing 314 and the Vought Sikorsky VS.44. The Catalina was no stranger to Foynes as BOAC used a number of them on services between Poole in Dorset and Lisbon and beyond and Foynes was frequently, although not always, used as a stopover. In addition, American Export Airlines used a solitary Model 28-4, basically equivalent to the military PBY-4, on route-proving flights and destinations included Foynes on a number of occasions, and a very large scale model of this aircraft hangs from the roof of the lecture theatre where it is accompanied by an equally large model Sunderland.

The museum, which also incorporates the fascinating Maritime Museum, is well worth a visit if you are in the vicinity – see www.flyingboatmuseum.com for further details

Thanks are due to Keith Cruttenden whose letters to me in the past persuaded me to make the long drive from Bantry to Foynes this summer.
David Legg
Editor: The Catalina News, The Catalina Society
Author: Consolidated PBY Catalina - The Peacetime Record
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Re: The Foynes Fying Boat Museum

Postby flyernzl » Tue Nov 17, 2015 12:18 pm

Thanks for the additional info David.
Helps build the picture.
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Re: The Foynes Fying Boat Museum

Postby seawings » Wed Nov 25, 2015 9:34 pm

It's amazing what one can learn.......

One of my all-time favourite tipples is Irish coffee! But, I never, ever knew it had a flying boat connection...!

I will have another one at the week-end in celebration at my local pub...! (Well, maybe two, co's one just slips down so very easily nowadays!!)

But, thanks for that nugget of info; drinking one (or two) of those will never be the same again......
Best Regards,

Bryan Ribbans
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"I put the sweat of my life into this project, and if it's a failure, I'll leave the country and never come back".
Howard Hughes, re: the HK-1 Hughes Flying Boat, aka the 'Spruce Goose,' 1946.
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