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Kalpesh Mehta explaining about his hobby of model plane collections at his house in Mankhool-Dubai . Image Credit: Ahmad Alotbi/Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai-based businessman Kalpesh Mehta has a rare hobby.

Mehta, who is passionate about aeroplanes, has a collection of scale models of aircraft in his home and office.

He has over 3,000 die-cast metal aeroplane models ranging from replicas of Boeing (747, 737, 757, 767, 787), Airbus (300, 310, 380, 340, 330, 350), McDonnell Douglas MD-11 and more.

The models are exact replicas of the original aircraft with every small detail incorporated. The sizes come in proportions of 1:200, 1:250, 1:400, 1:500 and 1:1000.

“At one point I had to stop buying planes so I could fit what I had into proper cabinets and spaces,” Mehta said. “There are a limited number of replicas made worldwide. I am really happy to own literally every single piece that has been made.”

A resident of Dubai since 1992, Mehta is into manufacturing umbrellas. He started collecting model planes in 1982 after his father brought an inflight magazine home one day. “The magazine had put out an advert on model planes for sale. Those days they made plastic 1:250 scale models. They were not as detailed as they are today. I ordered my first five scale models and there has been no looking back,” Mehta said.

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Kaplesh Mehta collected his over 3,000 models over four decades Image Credit: Ahmad Alotbi/Gulf News

Expensive hobby

Mehta collected his over 3,000 models over four decades. Prices start at $40 and go all the way up to $1,000. “It was an expensive hobby when I lived in India,” he said. “But after moving to Dubai, it became financially viable.”

He added: “Keeping the model planes in good condition is equally important. I have built glass cabinets in my house and office for my babies. I personally clean each plane from time to time. I take pictures before so I can remember where each one was placed. Each plane has to be placed in a specific spot as I have designed my cabinets accordingly.”

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A scan through Mehta’s cabinets reveals model planes from the 1950 and 1960s. Image Credit: Ahmad Alotbi/Gulf News

Stunning collection

Gulf News visited Mehta’s home to see his collection. What strikes one immediately is a four-foot 1:50 scale model of a Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-400.

Other planes painted with characters from Pokemon, Disney and Lord of the Rings make the display attractive. “Japan Airlines has popular cartoon characters painted on its planes. In fact many kids tell their parents which cartoon figure they want to travel in,” Mehta said.

A scan through Mehta’s cabinets reveals model planes from the 1950 and 1960s.

Old liveries (designs or models) such as Air India B707, American Airlines B707, Air Tanzania B707, Malaysian-Singapore B707 add a dash of nostalgia to his collection. A number of cargo planes, warplanes, including Junkers used by the Germans in World War I and II, add to the variety.

“I am particularly proud of my British Airways’ old livery when the airline operated as BOAC. All Nippon Airway Mohican B747 and L1011 with blue and white livery is really unique to have,” Mehta said.

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Kalpesh Mehta has huge collection of aircraft models from around the world Image Credit: Ahmad Alotbi/Gulf News

Replica airport

Mehta is equally proud of the replica airport he has created. “It took me four months to create one,” he said. “There are terminals, runways, grass, tow trucks, planes and everything else an airport has.”

So what drives Mehta to collect model planes?

“Perhaps it’s an expensive hobby, but I love it,” he said. “The models bring back memories of my travels and remind me how aeroplanes have evolved with technology today being such an integral part of the aviation industry. Hobbies allow us to live our dreams. It is a great mood lifter as well,.”

His family supports his hobby. “When my sons were kids, my wife and I took utmost care to ensure they would not break the planes,” he said. “As they grew older, they understood my passion and that these model planes need to be preserved. My hobby has rubbed off on them; they collect and build Legos.”