Perry de Vlugt doesn’t just work for Delta Air Lines — he lives for it. The Salt Lake City-based flight attendant has built a 1,000-square foot “hangar” at his home where he houses the largest private collection of Delta memorabilia in existence.
“I guess you could say I bring my work home with me,” quips de Vlugt in a video with Yahoo Lifestyle for the series Obsessed. Among the more than 5,000 items of memorabilia he’s collected are vintage uniforms, decks of cards, postcards, stickers, an aircraft door and multiple types of actual airline seats.
“I can seat eight passengers — six of them can fly first class,” says de Vlugt.
The fascination with airlines is something that de Vlugt says started early on. “As a kid, I always loved airplanes, my hobby was collecting airline memorabilia with various items — postcards, model stickers, timetables,” de Vlugt tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I used to write letters and send them to the [Delta] sales office.”
In these letters, many of which he has saved, de Vlugt asked for things like business cards, ticket jackets and anything else the airline was ready to part with. He remembers getting back “packets full of goodies” which he couldn’t wait to open. “It was like Christmas opening this up to see what was inside,” he says.
But soliciting packages from Delta is not the only way that de Vlugt has built his Delta empire. The 35-year veteran of the skies says he pours over “online auctions” and “airline surplus sales” — which happen once a month. One of his more obscure purchases, at a trade show, was a stencil used to create the markings on the tarmac — which he used to turn his own driveway into a runway. “At home, when I leave the airport, I actually end up parking my vehicle at a gate at my house,” he says.
All told, de Vlugt says he’s likely spent enough on the memorabilia to buy multiple houses, but the most he’s ever paid for an individual item is $1,011 — a bid made in honor of his favorite aircraft, the Lockheed L-1011. While few people likely share his level of obsession, de Vlugt seems satisfied to be in a league of his own. “The collection makes me happy. It’s part of who I am,” he says. “It started when I was a kid and it’s going to continue...I don’t see this ever stopping.”
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