Have you ever thought about living in a plane? That's exactly what this guy did when he bought a Boeing 727 for $243k and turned it into his home. He always had a vision of saving jetliners from becoming scrap and turning a plane into a home was his perfect solution. Continue reading to get a look inside his renovated plane.
In 1999, he was a retired engineer and wanted to save jetliners from becoming scrap metal into reusable items. All that he needed was a Boeing 727, a couple of extra hours, and the will to make his dreams a reality.
Not Everything Is as It Seems
The landscape in Oregon is magnificently beautiful. The farms, the mountains, and the forests attract adventure-seekers on a daily basis, especially those who want to uncover wander between the trees. Just west of the Hillsboro is a particularly special find, a Boeing 727.
Those that stumble across the old plane will have their mind flooded with questions such as did it crash? Was it placed there for a reason? However, upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that it was bought by a man - and placed on the strip of land for a reason - and you won’t believe what it is.
A Popular Plane in an Unusual Place
The Boeing 727 is an iconic piece of machinery, having reached its peak popularity in the 70s and 80s. Transporting countless passengers over the years, you’d expect the plane to be in the sky - but not in a forest.
Over time, the Boeing 727 became obsolete and it wasn’t long before the jetliner was replaced with newer models. In most instances, the planes were stripped of their parts but in other instances, the planes went up for sale. In 1999, Bruce Campbell jumped at the opportunity to buy a plane for himself and decided to put it in a rather unusual spot - for a rather unusual purpose.
The Size of the Plane Was Beneficial for More Than One Reason
At its peak, the Boeing 727 was known as one of the largest commercial planes. Its impressive size allowed it to transport up to 189 passengers. But that’s not the only reason that the size is useful. The sheer magnitude of its structure means that it would easily be seen in a forest or a field in the case of an emergency landing. But this particular plane west of Hillsboro was not in the forest due to an emergency landing.
When Bruce Campbell learned that one particular Boeing 727 was to be scrapped, he had a brilliant idea. Assessing his budget, he put together the $243,000 to buy the plane and moved it to a piece of land that he owned since the ’70s. But Bruce isn’t a pilot, and he didn’t intend on selling the scraps. So, what exactly did he want the plane for?
If Not a Pilot, Then What?
On the surface, Bruce’s decision to buy the plane may seem bizarre. What on earth does a 65-year-old retired electrical engineer want with the old Boeing 727? As an engineer, Bruce has a deep appreciation for the design of a plane. When talking about the Boeing 727 in particular, he shares that he thinks it is a masterful work of aerospace science that can withstand the forces of nature.
While the plane’s durability is great to transport passengers in the sky, it also makes the structure the perfect space for a home. Bruce shares, "When properly executed, the remarkable appeal of a retired jetliner as a home springs from the magnificent technology and beauty of the sculptured structure itself."
Some Passions Never Die but Are Reinvested Into Passion Projects
Bruce is one of those people that are lucky enough to have worked in an industry that they are passionate about. When he retired, Bruce’s passion for engineering grew and he found an opportunity to utilize this passion when he bought the Boeing 727. The retired engineer wanted a home that reflected this passion, and the Boeing was the perfect solution.
When Bruce took the plane home, he did so with all of its parts minus the engine. He had already invested $243,000 to own the plane, and he intended to invest a lot more during the transformation. With this in mind, the plane project became a calling. Using his electrical skills, Bruce put his mind to creating an “aerospace class castle”.
One Man’s Crowded Space Is Another Man’s Freedom
When was the last time you traveled on a plane? Most times, travelers book economy seats to save money and time, but these seats are often not the most comfortable. Legroom is limited, the recliner doesn’t extend fully horizontally and you often have your tray table sitting on your lap. This limited space makes more sense when you consider that these planes are carrying more than 200 people and cargo.
But when you remove all of the seats and strip the plane of its basic structure, you’ll realize that there actually is a lot of space. For example, the Boeing 727 has huge space reaching nearly 47 meters, with a floor space of more than 1,000 square feet. Can you imagine all of the wonderful things that you can do with this space? Bruce had a few ideas.
Bruce’s Idea Grew From Something Simple to Something Great
When Bruce discovered that a plane for sale, his mind started buzzing. Now that he was retired, he had time to let his creative juices flow in a different sort of way. Why transform a plane into a home when you can make it into something so much more?
Bruce had the brilliant idea of using the jet home to benefit the community around him, and he knew exactly how to do it. As a unique space, it provides the perfect setting for various events and festivals. Since the plane’s development, the wings have been used as the stage for various bands, and the surrounding forest has been used for concerts such as Turbulence Live. But events are not the only way that the community can enjoy Bruce’s space.
Although He Lives Alone, He Doesn’t Have Much Alone Time
The plane was not only transformed to be Bruce’s home, but it also became a hub of social activity. This manifested in the form of various events and concerts as well as a unique space to sleep for wandering travelers. Bruce admits that although he lives alone in the plane, he very seldom spends time alone.
This is because he’s constantly opening up his unique home to backpackers looking for a memorable place to stay. In fact, Bruce loves the company so much that he never charges his visitors for lodging or food. All that they have to do is email him in advance.
Bruce Chose to Live in the Woods for Several Reasons
Although Bruce is a retired engineer, he is a child at heart and views his new home as a toy. He shares, “It’s a constant exploratory adventure, ever entertaining, providing fundamental sustenance for an old technology nerd like me. Having lots of little toys is very fulfilling. Having lots of little toys enclosed in a very big toy is nirvana.”
And what better place to test the limits of his new toy than in the forest. Not only does he have the space to experiment, but it makes him feel like an ecological warrior as Bruce lives off of the land and does his best to blend into nature.
Prioritizing Budget Meant Leaving a Few Parts of the Plane Behind
Bruce Campbell had forked out a lot of money to buy the plane, and he invested a lot more in its transformation. When he bought the plane, he knew what he wanted to do with it and his desired purpose didn’t require the machine ever leaving the ground. So, Bruce made the decision to leave out the engine.
The engine of the plane is the biggest, and most expensive, part of the aircraft. Bruce knew that working on the engine would add an even larger expense to his costs, and so he decided to give up on the thought of the plane ever flying through the sky again.
The Unused Space Left so Much Room for Activity
As mentioned, the size of the plane is deceivingly large. This becomes apparent once you remove all of the seats see the space for what it is. As Bruce lives in his transformed home alone, there is a lot of space that is unused.
After furnishing his living area, Bruce realized that he had a lot of extra room that he could use as a form of a playground. Whenever an idea on how to use the space pops into his head, he implements it. By constantly exploring what the plane has to offer, Bruce is kept entertained for hours.
The Maintenance of the Plane Is Not What You’d Expect
Another reason that Bruce has so much time to tinker on his dream plane is because he spends very little time cleaning and maintaining the interior. Thanks to the sealed pressure canisters, very little dust and very few bugs - both of which are abundant in the forest - can enter inside.
On the other hand, the exterior of the plane does need serious maintenance, especially in areas that are difficult to reach. There are certain spots on the plane that are quick to accumulate grime and weeds which can cause damage. As a measure of maintenance, Bruce washes down the body of the plane with a high-pressure hose every two years.
Bruce’s Home Project Was Internationally Inspired
The thought of transforming a plane into a home was something that Bruce had been toying with for a while. He kept his eyes and ears open for the opportunity to buy a plane in the United States but was constantly disappointed. He decided to try his luck on the international market and struck gold when he found an aircraft for sale in Greece.
When Greek Olympic Airlines got rid of their Boeing 727 planes, Bruce got the opportunity to buy his dream 727-200 model. But how was he going to get it home? After completing the purchase, he dismantled the machine and flew it to Portland where it found its new home in the forest. And that’s when the real fun began - but not without a few expenses.
The Costs Began to Add Up
When Bruce signed the cheque for $243,000, he was under no illusion that the final expense of his project would be a lot higher. Not only did he still have to cover the cost of shipping and repairs, but also the construction of his “toy”. All in all, his project was estimated to cost over $220,000. How was he going to get the money?
Bruce wasn’t about to give up on his dream. He got the money together and looked for ways to cut costs. Firstly, he got in touch with a salvage company to clear out his living space. When Bruce first bought the plane, it was fully equipped. However, the company stripped it down so that they could sell the valuables. But was this the best decision?
Bruce Was Left With a Few Unexpected Regrets
It cost Bruce a lot of money to make his dream a reality of transforming a Boeing into a home. Yet Bruce didn’t feel a stitch of regret for the money that it cost him. However, he did have one regret, and that was using the salvage company.
Bruce shares that if he could do things over again, he wouldn’t have allowed the salvage company to take the plane’s parts. It’s not that Bruce found exceptional monetary value in the small parts - such as the seats and trays - but rather that the plane was stripped in the first place. He believes that he could’ve used the parts to create a home to his liking, rather than having to find other parts to serve their function.
The Salvage Company Took More Than Bruce Expected
By the time that the salvage company had finished their work, they had taken everything that they thought to be valuable - and this included some items that Bruce didn’t expect. For example, the plane was stripped of its carpeting, leaving the plane’s Plexiglass flooring visible.
In addition, the paneling was ripped out meaning that there was no protection from nature’s forces. What started off as an exercise to save costs ended up costing Bruce money in the long run. Bruce spent time hunting for parts and forging new items from scratch. He had learned a hard lesson but chose to view it as a challenge.
A Small Sacrifice for an Incredible Result
The end result of the project was incredible. But it was a long road to get there. While the salvage company stripped the plane of the majority of the interior, there was still a lot of work to be done - and Bruce accepted the challenge. Starting with the overhead compartments, Bruce realized that there was a lot more to the plane than what meets the eye.
Inside the overhead compartments were wiring systems, lighting, call buttons and oxygen masks. Disassembling this part of the plane meant that he had to create a bit of a mess. During the transformation phase, the interior of the aircraft was chaotic, but Bruce had the perfect attitude to get the project done.
The More That He Invested, the More He Felt Rewarded
Where most people would get despondent at the cumulative costs and time needed to invest in the project, Bruce embraced the challenge. The more that he dived into the work of transforming the plane, the more he thrived.
Before very long, Bruce realized that the task of repurposing the jetliner into a home was just the start of something more. He wasn’t exactly sure of what the future entailed, but he knew that it would be bigger, better and even more impressive.
Although He Loves His Life in the Plane, He Doesn’t Live There Full Time
It probably comes as no surprise to know that Bruce Campbell is a man who grabs the bull by the horns. Although he is retired, he chooses to live life to the fullest, making the most of every moment. As a way to absorb the most of life, he chooses to travel. In fact, he has another home on an entirely different continent.
In addition to the plane in Oregon, Bruce also has a place to stay in Japan. He spends the year in each destination. But why Japan? Bruce remarks that his love for technology drew him to the country. With his two main passions on opposite ends of the world, Bruce is trying to find ways to combine them.
Why Have One Aero-Home When You Can Have Two?
The experience of transforming the plane into his home not only left him fulfilled but also left him with a wealth of experience. The reconstruction process lit a fire in his heart and Bruce became focused on even bigger dreams - such as creating a jet home in Japan.
When Bruce first bought the plane, he purposefully removed the engine. He knew that he wanted to transform the plane into a functional home and therefore didn’t need the engine. While this means that he couldn’t fly his Portland base to Japan, it doesn’t mean that he can’t begin searching for a new plane to create a new home.
The Traditional Man Cave Takes A Twist
Bruce spent his working years as an electrical engineer. While buying a plane didn’t make him a pilot, that didn’t stop him from spending time in the plane’s cockpit. With all of the technology, various buttons, and wires, the cockpit is the perfect playground for a tech-junkie like Bruce.
Over time, the cockpit became a form of a man cave for Bruce. Not only does he enjoy hours tinkering with the equipment, but he also watches Sci-Fi movies from the pilot’s seat. All the fun that he has in his Oregon plane only further inspires him to get one in Japan.
With a New Challenge on the Horizon, Bruce Got to Work
Bruce had his sights set on a new goal - to set up a jet home in Japan. But as he learned from his Oregon experience, it wouldn't be a walk in the park. Firstly, it’s very difficult to find a decommissioned plane for sale. Bruce is keeping his ear to the ground, hoping for one to pop up on the radar.
When he does eventually find one, Bruce plans to keep his plane intact. He learned his lesson from using a salvage company with the previous project and wouldn’t make the same mistake again. The only part that he does intend on letting go is the engine due to budget. Speaking of which...
Budget Is One of Bruce’s Top Concerns - And for Good Reason
The Oregon plane transformation was the first project of that nature that Bruce had ever done. While the ingenious engineer did a great job at creating his dream home, his success didn’t come without a cost. Next time around, Bruce will be more calculated with his spending.
To start, he wants to keep the entire plane intact. He also wants to try to buy the plane in Japan to avoid shipping costs. In addition, buying the aircraft in Japan will prevent potential damage from happening to the plane in the relocation process.
Despite the Success, There Were Still Challenges
Once his home was transformed, Bruce happily spent his days living inside its structure. He spent hardly any time cleaning the interior and stumbled across plenty of opportunities for fun.
However, there were some aspects of living in the plane that were trickier than others. For example, the winters in Oregon can be quite harsh, and warming up a large plane can be difficult. Over time, Bruce has learned to adjust to the cold, but the same can’t necessarily be said for his guests. As long as visitors come prepared, a stay in the plane hotel can be as comfortable and memorable as expected.
Getting the Temperature Right Requires Special Skills
One of the reasons that Bruce loves living in his plane is because he has put his heart and soul into its transformation, furnishing the space to resemble a regular home. However, despite its ingenuity and homely atmosphere, he still struggles with getting the temperature right.
Luckily, his knowledge as an electrical engineer means that there is a way to improve the conditions. Bruce constantly works on trying to figure out the plane’s interconnected system, tweaking the temperature until it’s just right. Once he’s comfortable, he can go about doing normal chores.
Much of the Home Was “Same-Same but Different”
In many ways, Bruce’s home is unlike any other regular home. However, although his sanctuary is not built with bricks and stones, many of the chores required to maintain the home are the same. Bruce spends a fair amount of time doing chores just like any other homeowner.
General maintenance, such as vacuuming, cleaning, and washing, are a part of Bruce’s everyday life. These day-to-day activities remind him that although he has a very unique home, its main purpose is to provide him with a safe space to live - just like any other house.
The Plane Wasn’t Transformed With a Snap of His Fingers
Today, the plane is a fully equipped home and provides Bruce with a comfortable place to live. However, it took the retiree a very long time to get there, with many hours spent on details that would've been easily overlooked by the average person.
For example, the plane came with certain wiring and plumbing mechanisms, but not a shower. In order to have a satisfactory sanitary setup, he had to make an improvised cabin with hot and cold water provided through an electric pump. Bruce loves tackling these sorts of projects and does so with patience and dedication.
Although He Lives Secluded, Bruce Is Seldom Alone
You’d think that living in a plane in a secluded forest would mean that Bruce spends his days alone. But Bruce is a social butterfly. His home is always open to travelers looking for a unique experience.
The plane’s doors are always open, and Bruce’s table is always plated with extra seats. In fact, Bruce even allows his guests the chance to take a shower in his improvised bathroom. He even goes as far as leaving the plane when his guests want privacy.
If You Want to Best Understand a Man, Look at His Kitchen
From Bruce’s story up until this point, it’s clear that he’s innovative, smart and very social. However, if you want to get to know him better, then you simply need to have a look at his kitchen. Bruce’s kitchen shows that he lives a very simple lifestyle.
Although his kitchen is only comprised of a toaster and a microwave, Bruce leads a very healthy lifestyle. Part of the appeal of living in the forest is that he can live off of the land and so Bruce spends a fair amount of time finding fruits and vegetables in the surrounding forest.
A Unique Lifestyle Can Still Be a Humble Lifestyle
Just because Bruce spent a lot of money transforming the plane, it doesn’t mean that he lives an extravagant lifestyle. He likes to keep his things simple by eating from the land, as well as canned and boxed food which can be preserved without a fridge.
The guests that Bruce hosts normally bring their own food. Together, Bruce and his guests cook up delicious meals - and then share them while enjoying good conversation. Bruce has prided himself on living a humble lifestyle. He never wishes for more than what he has.
There Are Some Parts of the Plane That Bruce Didn’t Change
If you’ve ever been on a plane before, you’ll be familiar with the built-in restroom onboard. Bruce decided to keep the authentic appeal of the plane's restroom in his home. While he fixed the plumbing and made it cozier, he didn’t want to change much else. From the outset, Bruce’s restroom seems like a normal one, only it has the unique aerospace toilet and sink.
One of the ways that Bruce made the bathroom more comfortable was by installing heating systems. This keeps the restroom warm in the freezing Oregon winters. Although a small part of the plane, it’s a huge achievement for Bruce and he takes great pride in its transformation.
Bruce Needed a Little Help to Keep His Chores Running Smoothly
But the restroom is not the only achievement that Bruce prides himself on. He’s also excited about the laundry room that helps him keep his home and belongings clean and fresh. As a meticulous man, Bruce prioritizes staying clean and so he spared no cost in setting up the laundry.
While the home is not a regular one, the laundry room was a top priority. In fact, he even goes as far as advertising the laundry services on the website, letting guests know that they are able to use the machines.
The Unique Setting Attracts People From All Around the World
Bruce’s new home has created quite a buzz in his community - and beyond. While Bruce’s different way of living has attracted a lot of attention, he takes each moment in his stride. The retiree is living his life to the fullest and takes every opportunity that life hands him.
Between his technological exploits, tinkering around the plane and gathering plants for his dinner table, Bruce enjoys hosting guests. But he doesn’t only host local visitors, he also opens his doors to travelers from around the world.
Keeping Updated Is Easy as Pie
Bruce’s accomplishments are both admirable and amazing. As a traveler, you can visit the plane and spend a night. If Bruce’s story has piqued your interest, you can also visit his website (airplanehome.com) to stay updated on his exciting exploits.
The creativity and ingenuity that led to the plane hotel is something to be admired. Bruce’s story is encouraging for everyone who wants to continue living life to the full even after retirement. In the meantime, perhaps you’ll look at planes differently the next time that you fly.