The world’s only flying boat museum is a must-see for any and all seaplane enthusiasts. The site is packed with the history of how a small Irish village served a brief stint as one of Europe’s largest civilian airports.
Foynes, Ireland was a crucial spot in the world of aviation in the 1930s and ‘40s because of its location on the country’s western seaboard. In July of 1939, a luxury flying boat called the Yankee Clipper arrived there after completing the first commercial passenger flight between New York and Europe. In the years after, transatlantic seaplanes regularly began or ended their journeys in the village.
The flying boats shuffled people and parcels across the pond, soaring to and from Foynes by using the River Shannon as a watery runway. A 19th-century hotel was converted into an airport terminal, with the highest point serving as the control tower.
Though construction of the Shannon Airport caused the aviation industry to soon move on, Foynes continues to take its seaplane heritage to new heights. The old airport terminal now houses the Foynes Flying Boat & Maritime Museum. Here, visitors can learn all about the historic flying boats through a series of interactive exhibits. They can even step inside the world’s only full-size replica of a Boeing B314 flying boat to catch a glimpse of the plane’s luxurious accommodations.
Visitors can test their own piloting skills in one of the flight simulators or explore the World War II exhibit to learn about the pivotal roles flying boats played during the intercontinental conflict. There’s also a holographic show about Irish coffee, which recreates the night a Foynes chef invented the iconic beverage to please American passengers after their New York-bound flight was forced to turn back due to foul weather.