The sight of the huge red airplane model, resembling a light aircraft, on the side of the road that links Sik to Baling never fails to attract the attention of passing motorists.
Many of them stop to take a closer look at the plane and upon enquiring, they will find out that it belongs to a couple in whose garden the plane stands proudly.
Baharin Isa, 46, and his wife Siti Mariam Abd Ghafar, 43, have a fascination for airplanes and in 2013 they decided to build an airplane model out of bamboo and wood, which they promptly displayed in front of their house at Kampung Batu Besar. Little did they realise it would turn heads.
Two years later, they disassembled the model and got it replaced with one made out of iron. Dipping into their savings, the couple spent more than RM24,000 on the new model, with a 30-metre long and 3-metre wide body and is big enough to fit 30 people at any one time.
So far, thousands have stopped by to take a closer at the plane. Apparently, it has even piqued the curiosity of passing VIPs and foreign visitors.
Today, the replica still remains there but exposure to the elements have taken a toll on its metal and it has lost some of its sheen.
“We’ve all kinds of plans that we wish to implement to keep attracting ‘passengers’ to our plane. But due to financial constraints, we have to defer our plans,” Siti Mariam told Bernama, recently.
One of the proposals they have in mind is to modify the interior of the plane and turn it into a souvenir shop.
If their dream is realised, it would turn out to be the first such souvenir shop in the country. “I think having a souvenir shop in an airplane is a novel concept, similar to the train carriage that has been turned into a souvenir shop in Bandar Hilir, Melaka.
“If due attention is given to its decor, arrangement and type of souvenirs to be made available in the shop, it will be a big hit,” she said.
The couple’s refurbishment plan includes putting a fresh coat of paint on their plane – they intend to replace its existing red and white coat with a royal blue and white colour scheme.
“As for the plane’s interior, we have to modify its ceiling and wall and line them with a special material to keep the ‘cabin’ cool. Since the plane is made from iron, the interior can get very hot,” said Baharin.
They would need an estimated RM18,000 for the modification works, he said, adding that they would embark on the job once he and his wife have saved enough money.
“The first replica we built was ready just before the 13th general election (held in May 2013). We hope to get our (current) plane modified before the next election,” he added.
Recalling the time when they first displayed their “shiny red airplane” in their garden, Siti Mariam said it was like a carnival as hundreds of people stopped by daily to gawk at the plane and pose for photographs.
“In fact, the road in front of our house used to be congested with traffic,” she said, laughing.
“Besides Sik and Baling, we also had visitors from Penang and as far as Melaka and Johor. From morning till night, they kept coming.”
The plane is still drawing visitors, particularly during the school holidays and whenever weddings are held in the area.
Since it looks a little worn, visitors were not allowed to climb into the plane these days for safety reasons, added Siti Mariam.
“We used to have a staircase leading into the plane but we’ve removed it as we don’t want anything untoward to happen.” – Bernama