DREAM HOME! A retired Boeing 747-200 was cut into sections and airlifted by Chinook for Francie Rehwald's Wing House. The 125x45x7-foot wings serve as rooftops.
For the last six months or so, every time we'd taxi out, my eyes would drift to one end of the jet ramp, and linger on a Falcon 10 that has been there for quite a while. To my eyes, the littlest Falcon is the F-86, the P-51 of the corporate-jet world. Although sorely outdated (last built in '89), it's one of those airplanes that have no bad angles: No matter how you look at it, it's pretty. And guys who fly it say it flies as good as it looks.
I look forward to that little glimpse of aerial art to brighten my day. Then last week, I found trucks, cranes and mechanics clustered around it like mechanical maggots devouring a carcass: They were dismembering it before my very eyes! I was horror-struck!
Over the next week, it was as if I was watching one of those stop-action movies, where we see a building being built in two minutes of freeze frames: Every time we'd taxi past, another piece would be missing. It was indescribably depressing.
It seems impossible that an airplane that's so capable is, in today's market, worth more in parts than as a flying airplane. I don't know the particulars of this specific airplane, but a month later, another Falcon 10, this one obviously an older model, suffered the same fate in the same location. At that point, I realized that even pretty jets are doomed, if they burn too much fuel and don't have state-of-the-art cockpits. A pure-jet aircraft is doomed in a turbo-fan world.
The Falcon 10/100 isn't alone. A quick run through Trade-A-Plane shows older Lears, Jet Commanders, Saberliners and the like selling for as little as $300,000. They've been overtaken by technology, and it would cost too much to bring them up to speed. Lots of airplanes of this type now are sitting on the back rows on local ramps, along with oxidizing Cessnas and ancient cabin-class twins that can't find an owner.
In an odd bit of timing, as the Falcons were dissected before my eyes, I received an email invitation from a reader to come fly his recently restored Lear 23, and I had to laugh: We've reached the point when we might see restored Lears, Jet Commanders and even four-star JetStars (first flown in '57) parked in the grass amidst the restored Tri-Pacers and straight-tailed 182s at Oshkosh. The times definitely are a-changin'.
Out here in the desert, the dead-airplane thing is always in our face, because we have lots of airports where all types of airplanes, especially airliners, patiently wait for their turn in a salvager's smelter. When I see those, I invariably have the same thought that I had as I watched the poor little Falcon coming apart: If they gave it to me, what would I do with it?
So, someone gives me a Falcon 10. Would I fly it? That would be supercool! It's a speedy little bugger, cruising at well over 500 mph, and I could make it to my daughter's in about 40 minutes, but…and this is a big but…you have to feed it. And house it. And maintain it. So no, flying wouldn't be part of the equation. But, I'd like to have one anyway.
A Falcon 10 would just barely fit in my backyard, and would make a nifty little office. As I had that thought, I almost immediately visualized the front half of a Boeing 727 stretching across the back of my lot between the pool and the citrus trees. Yeah, Marlene would absolutely love that—not! But what a great little office! Or club house!
Oh, wait! The 727 could extend off the back of the garage and we could use it as a guest house. After all, it has self-contained toilets and running water (first class, remember?). I'm positive the neighbors wouldn't notice a humungous crane lifting it over the garage to sit it in the backyard. I wonder what the local zoning ordinances say about truncated airliners as workshops/offices/guest houses/storage units? Gheez! Maybe I'm onto something here!
The more I think about this, the more I like the idea, and that is NOT a good thing, because the concept almost makes sense (in a quirky sort of way), and I could almost (but, fortunately, not quite) afford it. I'm willing to bet that once they've been stripped of all their goodies, airliner fuselages sell for scrap value.
Moving it would be expensive, but you'd then have a spacious, fairly lightweight vessel that could be used for almost anything. One of my favorite recycle-an-airplane fantasies would involve dropping it over a motor-home chassis. You'd have to shop around to find just the right-width fuselage, but I can picture pulling into the RV camping area at Oshkosh driving the first 30 feet of a Gulfstream I fuselage. Or maybe a 580 Convair. So cool!
Or, make it your weekend cabin up in the hills. Mount it on a hull, and build a boat right out of Jimmy Buffet's imagination (the Cosmic Muffin). Oh, man! I'm really loving this! Just think of all the funky uses you can come up with.
As with all things that cross my mind, it took about 30 seconds of Googling to find that others have been there before me. Okay, so I'm not original, but I'm tickled to see that others have carried the concept to fruition. Google "airplane homes" then Google "airplane boat." There's even a 727-200 on eBay.
See? Told you it was a good idea.