Control tower remake takes off

The Foynes Flying Boat Museum’s reconstruction of a control tower, from the days when the Co Limerick village was a key transatlantic aviation hub, took off yesterday.

The old control tower, where the big-bellied planes got guidance to take-off and splash-land, will be erected over the next four months at a cost of e250,000.

Since it opened in 1989, the museum has become a big tourism attraction. Last year, it was one of only three attractions in Ireland and Britain bestowed with a major tourism award.

More than e5 million has been spent on developing the museum, which features a virtual fuselage of a giant flying boat built by Bill Fallover — who also built the huge prop of Noah’s Arc used in a television lager ad.

The replica control tower will be built by local contractor Michael Joyce and will be ready when the museum opens in April.

The museum attracts around 40,000 visitors a year.

Museum director Margaret O’Shaughnessy said the control tower will form the last piece in the jigsaw and will contain many of the old navigation aids used in the days of the flying boats.

Brian Cullen, chairman of the museum, said they plan to have a twin propeller Catalina flying boat doing sight seeing trips out of Foynes by next summer.

He said: “We still have a railway line into Foynes and it would be an aim in the future to get an old steam engine train so we could have ships, planes and trains at the one location here in Foynes.”

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