By and large, retirement is supposed to be a time to finally kick back, relax, and enjoy taking things easy. For one Oregon man, however, it was the perfect opportunity to finally complete a project that few others could even dream of.
Instead of slowing down, this guy chose to spend his golden years fulfilling a promise he’d made to himself back in his twenties. When you see the crazy idea he cooked up—and how spectacularly he pulled it off—you’ll be inspired by his dedication and creativity!
As a retired 67-year-old electrical engineer, Bruce Campbell was proud to have dedicated his career to technology. And although he’d left the office life behind, that didn’t mean he’d given up on one his biggest projects…
When Bruce was in his twenties, he bought a 10-acre plot of land just outside of Portland, Oregon. All he knew was that, one day, he would build a home on it. Not just any home, though. No—he wanted his future abode to be something special.
Initially, Bruce planned to build his home using reclaimed traditional freight wagons, the kind you might have seen on the Oregon Trail. It was certainly a unique idea, but over the years, he determined it wasn’t quite right.
But once he retired, Bruce heard about the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association, a program dedicated to finding second uses for airplanes that were no longer being flown. In an instant, it all became clear what he needed to do…
When it came to finally building his home, there was really only one option: Bruce would find a decommissioned plane of his own and make it the centerpiece of his long-awaited dream home project!
The more Bruce thought about it, the more the idea excited him. “Retired airliners are profoundly well-designed,” he enthused. “[They] can last for centuries (with effective corrosion control), are extremely fire resistant, and provide superior security. They’re among the finest structures mankind has ever built.”
Bruce didn’t want to use an old plane to make his home just because he believed in repurposing unused materials, either. He was hopeful that, in completing this project, he might inspire others to try it for themselves.
The key for Bruce was finding a plane that spoke to him. That finally happened in 1999, when he learned about a Boeing 727 passenger jet with a rich history. It once carried Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis to Greece, where she went to bury her second husband, Aristotle Onassis.
Bruce wound up paying $100,000 for the plane itself, but that wouldn’t be the final cost of this exciting venture. After he completed his renovations, the cost of the project would total more than $220,000. Still, it was a small price to pay…
To Bruce, there was no limit to what he would spend to make that plane a decent home. This included rigging it with running water, plumbing, and electricity. Not to mention, he had to add a bedroom, kitchen, and working bathroom!
Bruce wasn’t just going to stop there, either! He also added custom lighting and temperature controls, and he transformed one of the plane’s massive wings into a deck for him to enjoy the good weather.
The house-plane wasn’t just cool to look at; it was also super safe. “[The structure is] incredibly strong, durable, and long lived. And [it can] easily withstand any earthquake or storm,” said Bruce.
Unlike some normal homes, dust and creepy-crawlies weren’t much of a concern. “[The] interior is easy to keep immaculately clean because [it is made up of] sealed-pressure canisters. So dust and insects can’t intrude from the outside,” he said.
Bruce documented his entire journey in the hopes that it would inspire others to try his unusual way of living. While it might not be for everyone, it’s difficult to deny just how cool it would be to live inside a plane…
While Bruce believed that almost any plane around could make a comfortable home, he was particularly keen on the Boeing 727. “It seemed to offer the most attractive overall characteristics,” he estimated.
Bruce had nothing but positive things to say about the experience. “It’s a reasonable-size home for an individual or small family, but not so large that it can’t be transported over public roads,” he said. Amazingly, he wasn’t even done…
While Bruce loved his Portland home, he still had an itch to scratch when it came to planes. He started looking for a new decommissioned aircraft to buy so he could build yet another home, which he hoped to place in rural Japan!
Clearly not one to be daunted by big goals, Bruce planned to go even bigger than before. He set his sights on a Boeing 747-400, which can carry nearly 700 people, for his new project. That’s a whole lot of airplane for just one man.
This time, however, Bruce hoped an airline would donate a plane—and he made a compelling case. “A superbly executed second project, which very nearly fully preserves the original aircraft in all its sleek gleaming majesty, will attract a great deal of world press interest for a very long time, and thus be of considerable promotional value to a partner airline,” he stated.
Bruce was so passionate about the idea that he almost waxed poetic when he spoke about it. “Jetliners are masterful works of aerospace science. Their superlative engineering grace is unmatched by any other structures people can live within,” he said. Amen to that!
Jeez, will this guy ever rest? Let’s hope not! Here’s hoping Bruce’s ambition pays off and he inspires others to carry the house-plane torch to even more amazing places.
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