Man Buys An Airplane And Turns It Into A House
What do you do with an old airplane? Most of the time when an airplane is decommissioned, it's just put into an airplane graveyard somewhere, or possibly used for scrap metal. Some people have found much more creative uses for old airplanes, though, and this is one of those. Do you want to see what a little creativity can do for an old plane? Let's get started!
Bruce Campbell is an engineer who lives in Hillsboro, Oregon. (No, he is not the movie actor. That's a different guy entirely.) He has taken on a variety of unusual projects over the years, and this was one of the first.
He purchased a ten-acre piece of land in his early 20s. Mr. Campbell had a very interesting plan in mind when he bought the land, and when he was in his late 40s, he decided to execute his plan. This idea took years to come to fruition, but it was a really special idea.
The Land And The Plan
He says that the piece of land cost him $23,000. In 1999, he purchased a retired Boeing 727 jetliner for $100,000. He had a plan for the airliner: he wanted to turn it into a house on his ten acres of land. Why would he use a jetliner though? Why not just buy a cabin or something?
He explains this on his website, AirplaneHouse.com. He says, " Jetliners are masterful works of aerospace science, and their superlative engineering grace is unmatched by any other structures people can live within. They're incredibly strong, durable, and long-lived. And they easily withstand any earthquake or storm." It wasn't an easy thing to do though.
The First Part
He purchased the jetliner from a salvage company, and the first thing they had to do was to move it to his land. He contracted with a house moving company to tow the house from the salvage yard. This was not easy.
It involved road closures and they had to move significant parts of it through a neighbors orchard. Then they had to wait until weather conditions were better to move it into the homesite. It was finally completed about a month after they started. Then it was time for the next step.
Next Part Of The Plan
Once it was moved into place, it was time to start turning it into a home. Mr. Campbell says that the plane's cabin provides 1,066 square feet of "exhilarating aerospace quality living area". He had to extensively remodel the inside though.
He talks about why he likes the jet on his webpage, saying, "It's a great toy. Trick doors, trick floors. Hatches here, latches there, clever gadgets everywhere. Cool interior lights, awesome exterior lights, sleek gleaming appearance, titanium ducts, Star Trek movies a Star Trek like setting. It's a constant exploratory adventure, ever entertaining, providing fundamental sustenance for an old technology nerd like me. Owning lots of little toys is great fun. Owning lots of little toys enclosed in a very big toy is nirvana." He needed to make some modifications to his big toy though.
Mr. Campbell goes over some of the modifications he made to the aircraft on his website. He used the aircraft's original power grid, and said that no changes were needed to the plumbing to make it livable. He augmented the electrical system a bit though.
Since the aircraft is a sealed container, all he had to do for climate control was to add a regular commercial heat pump. The aircraft already has air filters and vents, so it's a very easy conversion. He had other things to do to the plane too.
He did have to make some additional modifications. Stairs need to be built for access to the passenger door. Mr. Campbell says that commercial stairs are sometimes available, but they are rather rare. Instead, it's easier and smarter to build your own.
The fluids in the aircraft are not good for the environment, so they need to be replaced. Also, the door seals need to be checked and maintained. Most of an airplane is made from metal, which prevents rodents and other animals from getting in, but he found that they would chew on the rubber of the door seals. There was a lot more work that needed to be done though.
He had a blueprint for the interior of the plane. First, all of the seats were removed. This turned the airplane into one large area, similar to a studio apartment. He kept the kitchen are and lavatories intact in the airplane.
He also removed the flight door that separates the cockpit from the rest of the airplane. The idea there was to give him the absolute maximum amount of space that he could without sacrificing comfort. The whole interior is energy-friendly because it's a sealed container. He had a great idea for the cockpit though!
Mr. Campbell figured out that the cockpit could be used for a variety of purposes. He installed Mac and Android operating systems in order to put a flight simulator on the plane. In the future, he hopes to tie the lighting systems into it.
He also says that he wants to restructure the cockpit eventually to make it look more modern. He wants to make it able to control the security systems too. He also had to deal with the lavatories and shower space.
If you've ever been in an airplane lavatory, you might be surprised that he didn't expand them at all. He said "They're small but I find them perfectly comfortable." They did have to be retrofitted with modern toilets, and the front lavatory was converted to a regular toilet.
Most airplanes don't have hot water, so he equipped the lavatories with small hot water heaters to make up for it. The two back lavatories of the airplane actually had their own water heaters, but they burst due to an improper insulation job, so he hasn't replaced them. He also needed a shower.
Unfortunately, due to time constraints, the shower was made very crudely. It is functional, but the plan to put two walls up to enclose it had to be scrapped. There is a shower pan and some rolled PVC to make it work though.
Mr. Campbell refers to it as a "camping class" shower. He might complete it someday. In his words, "So it's just not a high priority and likely won't get attention until far more important projects are completed." Working on the kitchen was a much higher priority.
At first, he wanted to convert the forward galley of the aircraft into a kitchen. When that didn't work out, he put the kitchen in the back of the plane instead. There's a microwave, dishwasher, and refrigerator, but no oven or stove.
On the subject of the oven or stove, he says, "I don't personally need a conventional oven nor stove since I never use them (I'm a nerd - other than microwaving food I don't cook) but a sweetheart might want them in which case I'd oblige as best I can of course." There are other appliances on the aircraft too.
Washer And Dryer
He also installed hookups for a clothes washer and dryer. He wasn't completely sure where to put them though, but they wound up in the rear of the aircraft, next to the refrigerator. He also intends to install a larger kitchen sink.
All of this has made the 727 a perfect house for Mr. Campbell. It's also become a kind of tourist destination, and he gives tours and encourages people to build homes from airplanes. He even has a special series of performances that are done right on the plane!
Concert On A Wing
There is a special series of events held at the plane every year. It's called Concert On A Wing, and as you might expect, it's a series of concerts right on the wing of his airplane house. They've had several of these since 2017.
The current lineup this year includes Portlandia Brass and Turbulance. These are events that are open to the public, and they're a kind of festival right next to the plane. Mr. Campbell says this plane is still a work in progress. He has a new project now though.
Mr. Campbell spends a lot of time in Japan, and he's decided to build a home out of an airplane there too! This one is made from a Boeing 747, and he's been working on it since 2018. He's developed a partnership with an airline in Japan.
Mr. Campbell is very committed to the idea of using retired jetliners as homes. As he says on his website, "...jetliners can, and should, be transformed into wonderful homes - retirement into an aerospace class castle should be every jetliner's constructive fate. They should never be mindlessly scrapped - in my view shredding a beautiful and scintillating jetliner is a tragedy in waste and a profound failure of human imagination. And the time for humanity to recognize this is long, long overdue."
We hope you enjoyed this story about a jetliner as a home. It's a fascinating idea that makes more and more sense as you read about it. Sometimes the craziest sounding ideas are the best! If you enjoyed reading this story, share it with your friends. Thanks for reading!