Resurrecting Grounded Jets Repurposing Jets into Meaningful Space
Resurrecting Grounded Jets
Repurposing Jets into Meaningful Space
Author : Kelly Louiseize
Editor : Jennifer J. Lacelle
Date : March 9, 2021
Johnny Palmer recently bought the relic of a Boeing 727-100 VP-CMN for less than the cost of an average car to repurpose it as an event centre for Pytch, his broadcast, creative and technical business out of Brislington, Bristol, England.
The jet, which is said to have a mysterious history, had been stored in the yard of Cotswold Airport for a decade before Palmer laid eyes on it and wanted it for his own. Conscientious about air emissions and waste, the entrepreneur began the thirteen-month plus process of registering the aircraft for transport to his warehouse location.
Rain and soggy weather prohibited the transport since any movement from the 120-foot fuselage would have sunk the 27-ton vehicle into the ground. It stayed at the airport for weeks until the earth dried up.
On Saturday February 27, 2021 mats were placed underneath its wheels and the 1968 aircraft slid from its spot effortlessly. It took from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. that afternoon driving 20 kilometers an hour, taking up two lanes of roadway, barely scraping underpasses and several hairy turns to bring it to its new home.
The town of Brislington is slightly over 11,500 citizens, but that morning thousands were out to get a bird’s eye view of the wingless bird traveling the freeway via Cook Transport.
The next day it was lowered to its cradle while hundreds of onlookers snapped pictures. Palmer said the purchase has garnered a lot of interest over a two-year span. Brand new, the jet would have run $40 million pounds — $55,576,000 (USD) million or almost $70,407,114 (CAD) million. But here’s the kicker.
Recent emails to Palmer stated that the plane was once owned by a Saudi prince who had grounded the aircraft after officials deemed it unfit to fly. However, another email from one of its mechanical engineers said there was nothing wrong with it. The reason why it was taken out of operation was because someone stole the registration paperwork.
Another email came in stating the plane took on ghost flights where people were documented going on but never coming off. A Boeing 727-100 flies down the main freeway to Bristol, England “We traced ownership to the Cayman Island but lost the trail,” said Palmer.
“These people are extremely discreet.” Whatever the case, Palmer expects to keep the interior chandeliers, seats, tables and wooden wall panel as is. Amber lighting will remain intact enhanced by well positioned LEDs. Sophisticated sound and technology will be hidden behind the walls, oblivious to passengers on board.
Already, the aircraft has a film gig booked this month. “There is a lot of space. It can likely take on more without the engines.” Back in its day, it was permitted 17 people on board. Cleaners are now treating the interior with beeswax. A few pieces need reupholstering. “I think we will change them to white leather.”
He has had a luncheon on board this week but is cautious on fully opening it until word that COVID-19 counts are declining. “I’m not doing this to make a fancy statement,” Palmer said.
“We are not paying the true cost of anything these days and this is a massive issue with our environment — our planet. That is why these jets are worthless in better commerce.
To make something from scratch is so costly to the planet but it doesn’t have a financial price tag". Palmer is not the only one morphing a jet into livable accommodations. In another part of England, in Dalton, Lancashire to be exact, Steve Jones has repurposed the #4 engine of a Vickers Armstrong VC10 nacelle into a two-sleeper camper.
His next project, after refurbishing a 250-year-old sandstone barn, is to begin work on a Boeing 737-500 fuselage. The Vickers Armstrong VC10 nacelle camper will be rented out in 2022 He had the first 10 meters cut and transported to the family hobby farm, including the cockpit, after the land on where it was sitting had been sold to Cox Automotive and the museum of jets taken off the property.
A transport and crane delivered and placed it beside the barn where it has stayed since September 17, 2020. “I am under strict orders by my wife to finish the barn before I tackle this project,” Jones, former military aircraft engineer, laughed. It hasn’t deterred him from accumulating 90 per cent of the flight deck components or designing the interior.
Two double beds will be fitted: one hanging from the ceiling and another in cargo area one level down. He’ll cut a hole in the floor to accommodate stairs. A walk-in shower and a walk-out balcony, plus spacious living quarters, will equate this unique camper experience to an upscale hotel room.
“Can you imagine having a gin and tonic on the flight deck?” Jones asked. Half the fuselage of a Boeing 737-500 sits in Steve Jones' yard awaiting refurbishment. He hopes to begin the project in October of this year, once the large solid oak barn has been renovated into a family home.
The completion date is set close to Christmas. Then, the five-ton piece will be trailered to his friend’s camper resort four miles down the way to be enjoyed by guests. “Glamping is really big here. I think I will rent out the VC10 nacelle and the Boeing 737 static caravan and be quite busy with bookings,” Jones said.
Though he laughs as he says his sons, Daniel and Benjamin, “think daddy’s crackers,” tremendous support has been given to him by the family.
“I am an engineer by trade and gifted with skilled hands. I can make anything out of anything.”
Personally driven, he approaches projects with the same methodical discipline he learnt in the military. What some people think of as overwhelming, Jones shrugs. “I just get on with it, really.”
Just outside of Pattaya City, Thailand, there is yet another entrepreneur who has taken an Airasia Airbus A330 and Lockheed L-1011TriStar and re-purposed them into coffee houses.
That’s right, coffee houses. 331 Station Coffee War was an afterthought of Mr. Pure Sangtang, whose business it is to purchase retired aircrafts from companies and assemble or disassemble them on their large, rented property. Usually, the aircraft is sold to the film industry or to others who would like to use it as decoration, he stated. 331 Station Coffee War signature coffee.
Since the two planes were parked without buyers, Sangtang decided to turn them into coffee shops in June of 2020. What he didn’t expect was the onslaught of visitors on their first day opening. An estimated 1,500 people arrived for a signature coffee war java and to have their pictures taken onboard a jet. Police arrived and the doors closed for seven days to institute COVID-19 screening measures. The frenzy has since relaxed, and hours of operation regulated from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Since the two planes were parked without buyers, Sangtang decided to turn them into coffee shops in June of 2020. What he didn’t expect was the onslaught of visitors on their first day opening.
An estimated 1,500 people arrived for a signature coffee war java and to have their pictures taken onboard a jet. Police arrived and the doors closed for seven days to institute COVID-19 screening measures.
The frenzy has since relaxed, and hours of operation regulated from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Ordering counter at 331 Station Coffee War.
“I have done most of the interior design with the help of coworkers,” he said. “We still may sell the aircraft in the future, so I haven’t done much decorating.”
More than a good cup of Joe, 331 Station Coffee War is a hiking and camping equipment store. The surrounding land has been made into a BB gun shooting range, a Go-kart service and food centre.