The Detailed World of Airport Dioramas – Airways Magazine

DALLAS – Airport dioramas are more than just a display for die-cast airplane collections; some designs have all the essential airport areas in detail.

Airport dioramas may include runways (single or dual), terminal building areas, parking and/or parking garage areas, cargo areas, fuel depots, and hangar areas in one complete diorama. Some designs offer you the flexibility to customize an area of the airport using different options included with the airport.

Airport dioramas can showcase new or iconic airports, current or classic aircraft, the latter being detailed in perfection to represent different time periods.

Airways spoke to airport industry veteran and diorama creator, Brian Keene. He and his wife Brenda currently reside in Orlando, Florida, US. Keene has been part of airline management for over 45 years, working for Pan Am (1980), PEOPLExpress (1982), Continental (1987), United Airlines (2011), and from then until today at ABM Aviation.

We asked Brian how and why he started making airport dioramas.

Capturing a Moment in Time

Keene explains, “We all love Airports because they somehow welcome the beautiful aircraft that many of us photograph or collect.  Airport dioramas are miniature displays of full-size airports whether real or fictional. For the diorama community, we build dioramas for different reasons.”

Keene says that for those AV geeks who are airplane model collectors, airport dioramas are a great way to display your collection in a real-time setting vs models sitting on a shelf or tucked away in a box. “For some, the dioramas we build remind us of a moment of time in our lives when we first were bitten by the Aviation Bug.”  

When it comes to diorama construction materials, the options vary widely.  Creators design the layouts using anything from foam board, art paper, cardboard, wood, plastic, and sometimes 3D printing.

An AV Geek since Childhood

“In my case, as a kid, I frequented Kennedy Airport in New York in the ’70s and ’80s.” Recalls Keene.

“I was so mesmerized by the aircraft livery colors, the sheer size of the space, aircraft movement, and building designs- I decided to try my hand at building a replica in 1:400 scale. I also had fun searching for rare classic models to ensure that I stayed within the specific time period.”  

The images here include the International Arrivals Building (IAB), TWA Flight Center, and the National Sundrome as they looked in the 1970s. “A wonderful time in Aviation History as the Boeing 747 began to rule the earth.”

Keene concludes, “Who knows? I may continue building until all nine of the JFK unit terminals are connected! (I think I may need a bigger house!).”

Featured image and all photos courtesy: Brian Keene

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