Brazil’s TAM Airlines Museum Set To Reopen

The Brazilian Aviation Museum 'Dream' to Become Real Again

The rare Vought F4U-1A Corsair (BuNo.17995) at the TAM museum. The late Harry Doan modified this aircraft to represent a then-extinct F4U-1 birdcage variant during the 1980s. (photo by Raphael Lopes Pinto Brescia)

by Raphael Lopes Pinto Brescia

Recent news from Brazil indicates some encouraging signs of life for the long-shuttered TAM Museum, in the city of São Carlos, São Paulo. On March 1st, the mayor of São Carlos, Mr. Airton Garcia, and Joao Amaro, now president of the Wings of a Dream Association, signed a Protocol of Intent to reopen the aviation attraction (with support from City Hall) at its current location and under its original name, Museu Asas de um Sonho.

The sole surviving, intact Savoia Marchetti S.55, named Jahú. Photo by Raphael Lopes Pinto Brescia.

The Amaro brothers, Rolim and Joao, founders of TAM Airlines, were instrumental in the museum’s conception. What had started as a private collection of vintage and antique aircraft, soon grew to a point where the brothers chose to open a museum, named Museu Asas de um Sonho (Wings of a Dream Museum).

The brothers chose to base the museum in São Carlos, a roughly 3 hour drive northwest of São Paulo International Airport, to take advantage of the resources and technical expertise at the TAM Airlines maintenance facility already established at that location.

The museum displays a very rare Lockheed L-049 Constellation (PP-PDD), one of just four complete survivors of this variant. This magnificent aircraft began its airline career in 1946, flying for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. KLM parted ways with the aircraft, which subsequently passed through a number of different owners until 1965, when Paraguayan authorities impounded it in the nation’s capital, Asuncion, due to its use in smuggling operations. The aircraft remained ground-bound in Asuncion until TAM rescued the airframe in 2000. TAM Airlines personnel then restored the ‘Connie’, painting it in a 1950’s vintage Panair do Brasil livery. (photo by Raphael Lopes Pinto Brescia).

The museum later changed its name to Museu TAM, it’s administration transferred to a non-profit organization (also established by the Amaro brothers). Museu TAM remained open to the public for about ten years, a period in which its collection expanded to include nearly a hundred aircraft (including some on loan), making it one of the largest aviation museums in all of Latin America and of great significance internationally too.

Fokker 100 PT-MRL in TAM colours. (photo by Raphael Lopes Pinto Brescia)

Sadly, in 2016, the museum closed its doors unexpectedly. It is believed that the merger between TAM Airlines and LAN Airlines to form LATAM Airlines reduced available funding for museum operations, resulting in its closure. Since those difficult days, a lot of rumors hav circulated about the museum’s potential reopening, including its possible move to a new area in São Paulo and partnerships with the Brazilian Air Force to display the aircraft, but those never came to fruition.

On March 1st, 2023, São Carlos’ City Hall released a statement indicating that the museum will open during weekends, free of charge to the public. The initial notice revealed that visitors will have to book their tickets in advance, however, no further details were provided. Subsequent official information indicates that the reopening will take place next May. It is also believed that the University of São Paulo (USP) will support this effort via its Aeronautical Engineering Program, based at USP’s São Carlos Campus.

If everything goes as planned, this will be a major opportunity to see some iconic aircraft on display, including a Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2, Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX, Republic P-47D Thunderbolt (a WWII veteran which flew with the Brazilian Air Force in Italy), a rare Vought F4U-1A Corsair (dressed as a ‘birdcage’ variant) – and the unique Savoia Marchetti S.55 flying boat Jahú.

Stay tuned for more updates!


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