A Cut Above Airplane Models from the SFO Museum Collection

A Cut Above Airplane Models from the SFO Museum Collection

International Terminal

Departures Level 3, Galleries 4B and 4C
Mar 02, 2024 - Jan 26, 2025

A Cut Above
Airplane Models from the SFO Museum Collection

For over a century, model aircraft have helped aviation professionals and enthusiasts envision the history and technological triumphs of human flight in miniature scale. While modeling has been an integral part of the aeronautics industry, it has also become a widespread hobby, and flying model aircraft has evolved into a popular sport. The types of airplane models, as well as the methods and materials used to construct them, have greatly varied over time, yet model aircraft can be broadly categorized into two major types: “flying models,” which fly similar to real aircraft and generally use radio controls and engines and “static models,” which are built primarily for display. During much of the twentieth century, airlines and aircraft manufacturers commissioned the construction of aircraft display models by premier model makers. These included intricately-detailed cutaway versions, which afforded prospective customers at airports, airline sales offices, and travel agencies a view into the airliner’s cabin. 

This exhibition presents thirteen outstanding examples of static display and flying models from the SFO Museum collection. The collection includes nearly two thousand models representing a broad range of aircraft, the majority of which are commercial airliners. Four of the models in this exhibition are unique and highly detailed static-display models scratch-built by Edward Chavez (1917–2004), a recognized master in the modeling community. Five of the airliner models were constructed by Gary Field (b. 1956) using similar methods to leading airliner model makers of the last century. 


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