The Pan Am Museum Foundation is pleased to unveil our latest exhibit commemorating a place we hold dear to our hearts!
A diorama measuring 5′ x 3′, and it is on loan indefinitely courtesy of its creator,
Having spent 42 years in the aviation industry, Brian began his career in 1980 as a flight attendant with Pan Am. Today his aviation career continues as Vice President, Standards & Training, Service Delivery at ABM Industries.
Since his childhood on Long Island, Brian Keene loved to frequent JFK. Keene decided to combine his love of aviation and his artistic talents and direct his energy into creating dioramas. He began building prior to Covid, and when Covid hit, working from home he had the opportunity to build and complete IAB diorama ~ a 1:400 scale replica ~ and brought it to the Aviation Memorabilia Show where he won first prize! He once said, “Who knows,…I may continue building until all nine of the JFK terminals are connected. I think I may need a bigger house!”
He decided to take his passion for aviation and the airport to another level with the building of The JFK International Airport Diorama that would capture and remind him of that moment in his life when he first fell in love with the field of aviation. “I wanted to give another generation the understanding, the feel I had as a young man standing on the observation roof of the Worldport Looking out at the expanse of the IAB, all the different aircraft liveries from around the world. It was like the Ellis Island of the modern day. JFK only major international gateway of the 70’s. JFK was the epi- center and the launch of the 747 made a lasting impression on me. Seeing the 747 pull up to the gate, seeing the pilots wave to us inside. It was a magical time.”
Shea Oakley of the Pan Am Historical Foundation asked Brian to build another terminal, to build the National Sundrome, with glass, then decided to build the TWA terminal which was the most difficult to build as there are no right angles. He then had 3 terminals built and brought those to the airline show. The display was a big hit. People said you have to build more,…Build the Worldport!!! “As a Pan Amer, of course, I had to build the Worldport!”
``As a Pan Amer, of course, I had to build the Worldport!``
Keene’s favorite terminal is the Pan Am Worldport. He still remembers standing on the rooftop parking deck of the Worldport overlooking the ramp, watching the Pan Am 747s pulling in. “I remember the pilots waving as they parked the aircraft,” he said, “and the vast expanse of Kennedy Airport, and seeing all the international carriers pulling into the IAB….”just everything about it was really exciting. The building itself holds a lot of memories for me.”
“There were very few pictures/photographs of these terminals, no construction plans available, probably in some architects office, I studied images of aircraft with the buildings behind them. I then found the Historical Aerials website, you can enter a date and you can see an aerial view of just about any building. Found an aerial view of the Worldport in 1980. Took my time with the details, built the interior as well. You will see the columns, the upper mezzanine, the restaurant, the museum. Had some diagrams of the interior, went off a lot of photos of the interior.“
After obtaining the diorama construction materials ~ which vary widely utilizing anything from foam board, art paper, cardboard, wood, plastic, and sometimes 3D printing ~ it took Brian 5 hours to assemble the entire JFK airport and perhaps one hour to assemble the Worldport.
“When people see the Worldport , especially young people, they are wowed. The Cantilevered roof is angled. Inside the building is square, not round. They built a large square, the pillars are elliptical, they sat the main part of the saucer on the pillars. I saw pictures of the building being torn down which was helpful to me to understand the design, the structural design was extremely intricate.“
Brian’s desires align with those of The Pan Am Museum Foundation as he really wants is to inspire the next generation of young people to collect, to build, and perhaps, ultimately, to embrace the airline and aviation career that he loves so much. He also wants to inspire generations to follow in his footsteps so that 30 years from now, people will know what The World Trade Centers and other iconic structures the buildings looked like ~ same for the Worldport.
Read more about Brian Keene and the nostalgia around dioramas: