A wooded area to the west of Portland, Oregon, harbors one of the most unusual homes in the world. It is a retired Boeing 727-200 airliner turned into a living space by an electrical engineer Bruce Campbell. He believes that “superlative engineering grace” of jetliners “is unmatched by any other structures people can live within.”
Campbell bought the 10-acre land plot where the aircraft sits today back in his twenties. It cost him $25,800 at the time. He first considered making a home out of freight vans, but then came up with the aircraft home idea. With help of a salvage company Campbell found a suitable plane in Greece.
Expensive to build, cheap to operate
In 1999, Campbell had the aircraft ferried to the US. The Boeing’s tail and wings were temporarily removed so that it could be towed to Campbell’s plot through the streets of Portland’s suburb Hillsboro. There it was propped up on concrete pillars with the wings and tail reattached. Campbell spent a total of $220,000 on getting himself airliner home. That includes $100,000 for the airframe and $120,000 for the logistics and other related expenses.
Not cheap, Campbell says though, as he had to learn from his own mistakes, such as choosing wrong vendors. Weather caused some costly delays, too. He argues that if everything is perfectly managed and executed, cost of making a similar home may be substantially lower.
On the upside, he doesn’t have to spend much on his home today. His monthly expenses come down to $220 in property taxes and between $100 and $250 dollars for electricity. Campbell lives a rather moderate life there, too. Inside the Oregon Boeing is a hermit’s retreat rather than a luxurious sci-fi mansion. Campbell sleeps on a futon and his kitchen appliances consist of a microwave oven and a toaster. He also has a makeshift shower, a portable washing machine, and a refrigerator.
All these years the airplane home has been open for the public to visit. You just have to notify the owner in advance that you want to come around. All his contacts can be found at the AirplaneHome.com website. Before the pandemic Campbell normally allowed everyone to tour the plane’s cabin and flightdeck in addition to seeing it from the outside.
These days “indoor tours or lodging are only available for guests with full SARS-CoV-2 vaccinations,” according to his website. He also lets visitors walk the Boeing’s wings. The aircraft site also hosts a number of musical performances and parties every year. The concert program for 2023 and reports on past events can be viewed at ConcertOnAWing.com.
Plenty of aircraft waiting to become homes
Campbell, who is in his seventies now, spends half a year at his winged home in Oregon and another half in Japan. He has an ambitious plan for creating a second airplane home there. This time from a Boeing 747-400. Campbell also hopes that his airliner castle will set an example for many other people to follow. “I believe that humanity will embrace this vision wholeheartedly in enough proportion that we can utilize every jetliner which retires from service.”