Society

Meet Subramani Mariappan, the owner of over 115 aircraft models

Subramani Mariappan, member of Plane Spotters Chennai, is the owner of over 115 aircraft models

There are people who have hobbies to keep themselves happy, to learn something new or to hone a skill. And then there are people for whom a hobby becomes a passion.

Subramani Mariappan falls in the latter category. The 28-year-old is an avid collector of model aircraft. His room at his three-bedroom house in Pammal resembles a mini airport with miniature models of aircraft belonging to airlines from across the world, neatly arranged on top of almirahs and shelves.

He has collected 115 airplane models since 2015 and has spent more than ₹1 lakh on them in total, so far.

Subramani says his fascination for airplanes began as a little boy. Only it didn’t end with looking up at the sky and waving at the flying machines. He began looking closer at the names of the planes and their make. The fact that his house was near the airport helped.

Meet Subramani Mariappan, the owner of over 115 aircraft models

“I loved watching planes take off and land, and naturally I wanted to become a pilot. But that dream came crashing down as my family couldn’t afford the expensive fees that the course and training demanded. I studied Electrical and Electronics Engineering. In 2014, I got a job on contract at TNEB but later that year, I went to Singapore looking for better opportunities,” says Subramani, who is now employed as customer support engineer at an IT firm in Ambattur.

In Singapore, he started collecting model aircraft. “I had been wanting to collect models of planes after I saw one at a family friend’s home when I was a kid. In Singapore, I bought five models and after returning to Chennai in 2015, I started buying more through a seller in Mumbai. I also make on-board purchases on flights. My friends gift me plane models knowing my obsession with them,” he says.

His favourite among the miniature air planes he owns is the model Airbus A350-900, which is a gift from a friend.

His 100th acquisition was the model of Antonov An-225 Mriya, the world’s largest cargo aircraft built in Ukraine, which he bought through a friend in the UK. “I wanted my 100th to be special. I requested my friend to order it for me and it was delivered to him just before he left for the airport to return to India. It is the most expensive model in my collection: It cost ₹6,000,” he adds.

Recalling a brief stopover by Antonov An-225 Mriya in 2016 at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad, Subramani says, “No aircraft comes close to this beauty. Lucky are those who have seen it from close quarters.”

In Singapore, Subramani also became a plane spotter. “I bought a DSLR camera and started shooting pictures of airplanes at Changi Airport. Security guards were all over and I was scared of being mistaken to be a threat,” he says.

In Chennai, he made the acquaintance of fellow aviation enthusiasts and plane spotters and together they formed a group — Plane Spotters Chennai — in 2017 on WhatsApp and social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram. “It started as a group to share pictures of planes that we spot and today, our social media pages are knowledge-sharing platforms on airplanes, their models, structures, and unique features. We have over 100 members. We also started a YouTube channel recently,” he says.

Meet Subramani Mariappan, the owner of over 115 aircraft models

The plane spotters come together once every year to celebrate the anniversary of the group. “Our passion for aviation brought us together. We go to the airport as often as possible to watch planes. However, it is unfortunate that plane spotters are not encouraged due to the heavy security in airports. Our wish is to become an officially recognised group of plane spotters,” he says.

Many of Subramani’s pictures of various air planes have been featured on the social media pages of the respective airlines. Testimony to his unending infatuation with planes is his collection of airline and airport magazines, key chains and bag tags, boarding passes, stickers, postcards and stamps. His collection also includes model airplanes of now defunct airlines such as Air Berlin, Kingfisher amd Jet Airways.

Learn more on the Facebook page Plane Spotters Chennai or Instagram handle planespottersChennai_official.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 9:47:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/meet-subramani-mariappan-the-owner-of-over-115-aircraft-models/article28822610.ece

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