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 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 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.
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!