For an aviation collectibles enthusiast, the best collectibles show is the one held in your hometown. Simply being able to drive (or walk, or take the train or bus... Oh! nevermind, this is Houston I'm talking about...) to a place where I can get airplane models and bring them back home with me right then and there is a nice break from the online shopping era and a nice throwback to the times when a trip to the model shop (yes, there used to be such places here in town) was something to look forward to. That alone makes the local Houston Airline Collectibles Show one of the most anticipated events of the year for me.
Anyone with some familiarity with the aviation collectibles show circuit in the U.S. will tell you that the Houston show, similar to many of the local shows, with some exceptions such as Chicago, Dallas, and Atlanta, is rather small. This is why I have decided to combine photos of multiple shows over the years to build up this article.
I have seen the attendance of the Houston show fluctuate from being not much more than a gathering of local collectors to being a buzzing market full of visitors from all over the South Texas region and beyond. The most recent show on November 4th, 2023 looked pretty decent to me.
All the previous shows that I had attended were held at the 1940 Air Terminal Museum at Hobby Airport on the southeast side of the city. The 2023 show was held at a Holliday Inn hotel by George Bush Intercontinental Airport on the north side of the city, which meant that my drive time to the show doubled up this year. Luckily, a nice fall day and the slow Saturday morning traffic made for a very pleasant trip.
Some familiar faces:
Scale Models! Mainly 1:400, my favorite offering!
In past years, diecast scale models were not always so prominent at the show, but recently that has changed with the appearance of a local retailer, The Texan Airplane Store, and with LA-Center becoming a regular.
A portion of Michael Bludworth's setup. A very well-known local aviation collector and historian.
One of the cool things about these shows is that you never know what you are going to find. For me, one of the most rewarding finds came in the form of a large selection of timetables, which helped me in my casual research of airlines that served Venezuela.
This show was held at the 1940 Air Terminal Museum on the grounds of Hobby Airport. It was the first show that The Texan Airplane Store attended, and it yielded some nice finds in 1:400 scale for me!
Another Houston show of which I have photos is the 2009 one. It was the first aviation collectibles show I attended, and my first time visiting the 1940 Air Terminal Museum.
From what I remember the show was moderately sized, but there were hardly any 1:400 scale models (what I was after) available. I did find a very special 1:500 bargain, as you will see later.
Since it was my first visit to the 1940 Air Terminal Museum, I spent most of the time wandering around the actual museum and not in the show.
I was shocked to find this large framed photo of a Pan Am L1011 at Maiquetía Airport. Later I would find out the photo was used on the front cover of a menu (of which I now own a copy). It was Pan Am's inaugural L1011 flight from JFK to CCS on May 1st, 1980. The aircraft was N504PA "Clipper National Eagle."
While there were effectively no 1:400 models at that show, I did find a copy of the model that got me into all this: the first-generation Viasa DC-10-30 made by Herpa in 1:500 scale. I stumbled across 1:400 scale while searching for that very model, the rest is history. In those years that model was pricey and hard to find on eBay, but this copy was a mere $5.00 with no shipping or taxes to worry about, just plain old take your cash give me my airplane model. What a nice souvenir from my first airline collectible show.
As I have grown more committed and passionate about the hobby of airline collectibles I have made the effort to attend larger shows in other cities. Besides the Houston show, in 2023 I also attended Airliners International in Dallas and the Amsterdam Aviation Collectors Fair. Still, everything I stated in the first paragraph holds true.
Jorge A. Zajia