MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida man’s aviation dream is soaring to new heights.
He turned his everyday job into a passion project.
Whether he’s watching real planes soar above South Florida, or the miniature models lining his shelves, there’s no doubt that Dennys Gonzalez loves everything about aviation.
“I’ve always loved this airplane because it’s got such beautiful colors,” he said. “I love airplanes, I love airports.”
As a child, Gonzalez would spend hours watching the runway at José Martí International Airport in Cuba.
“As a kid, I would pay attention to details and look at the cars moving and the little stairs and the fuel trucks and how the planes would get towed so things like that, I guess it gave me a lot of perspective on how things work at an airport,” he said.
Gonzalez and his family immigrated to South Florida in 1994.
He had dreams of becoming a pilot but those aspirations changed so he rerouted his course and landed at Miami International Airport where he works as a senior aviation property manager.
“I have an opportunity to be up close to the ramp and to the airplanes and to the maneuvering and the functionality and the operations of the airport,” he said.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit last year, much like the airplanes on the Tarmac, Gonzalez was grounded. He went from working in the terminals to working from home and missed the action at MIA.
“It got pretty stressful to just be locked in the house and you couldn’t go to the supermarkets, you couldn’t really do anything so I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to create my own airport here,'” he said.
And that’s exactly what he did. He calls it “DG’s International Airport.”
The 60 square foot scale model takes up an entire room in his home.
Just like a real airport, it has terminals, a control tower, runways and plenty of working lights.
“Airports have a lot of things going on, they have trucks, they have trains, they have cargo, they have passengers, they have everything, you know, fire trucks,” said Gonzalez.
He said his homemade project cost him about $10,000 and took more than 1,000 hours of detailed work.
“I got a couple of foam boards and put them together and started measuring and using the blue tape and little by little creating it, that’s what we got today,” he said.
Gonzalez said his project was the perfect way for him to keep his mind off the uncertainty of the pandemic and when he finally got back on the job, he found it actually helped him be more productive at work.
“When I’m doing this at home and I go back to work, I think I see the airport with a different set of eyes so I get involved in a lot of stuff at the airport with my coworkers and they tell me, ‘You know, you have some good ideas,'” he said.
Gonzalez eventually wants to share his project with South Florida children.
“I think it’s a pretty cool way to showcase to kids how many things you can do when you grow up,” he said. “I think that’s what I’ve done as I grew up. I’m working at an airport so I’m pretty happy about that.”
Gonzalez is happy to donate his model airport to a local organization so children can learn about the aviation industry and let their dreams take flight.
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