Man Buys Old Airplane And Turns It Into His Home
If you were to find an airplane in the middle of the woods, what would you think? Is it the scene of a mysterious plane crash? An old plane junkyard? If it happens to be in Hillsboro, Oregon, then that’s just the not-so-humble abode of Bruce Campbell, a retired electrical engineer and very inventive man. Bruce likes to turn planes that would have otherwise become scrap metal into beautiful upcycled masterpieces. He believes that airplanes can have so much potential outside of their intended use. He’s used his good imagination, an old airplane, and a good piece of land to create the most unique home on Earth. Read on to see how he built his very exotic home and take a look inside!
1. Dream Big
Bruce Campbell, a 64-year-old retired electrical engineer, always had creative vision. When he was in his early 20s, he purchased a 10-acre piece of land for $23,000 deep in the forest of Hillsboro, Oregon with a very clear vision in mind.
From a young age, Campbell loved to tinker with old objects and materials to create new things. His plan for this area of land was to construct a home for himself out of several freight vans. It sounded like a wonderful and innovative plan, but that was until he heard about a home someone else had built.
2. Change of Plans
About two decades later, Bruce Campbell heard about Joanne Ussery, a hairdresser from Mississippi who bought a Boeing 727 plane and transformed it into her home. Her previous house burned down, so after that she decided to build a functional airplane home next to a peaceful lakeside.
He was already moving forward with his freight van home idea, but Campbell thought a gigantic plane sounded so much more innovative and fun to play with. After all, he strongly believed airplanes should be saved from becoming scrap metal. Land wasn’t an issue because he already owned 10 acres, but he’d need enough money to buy and transport this unconventional kind of vehicle to Oregon.
3. Buying a Boeing
In 1999, Campbell decided to purchase a Boeing 727 aircraft from Olympic Airways, based at Athens Airport for a whopping $100,000. Once he acquired the airplane, he needed to transport the massive aircraft to the woods in Oregon.
Transporting the plane from Athens, Greece, to Oregon proved to be the most daunting task out of the entire venture. Staging and carrying out the move, as well as several other aspects of the project, set him back another $120,000, which meant the airplane cost a total of $220,000. But it seemed like Campbell would make his money’s worth of every single penny in more ways than he anticipated.
4. The Big Move
The industrious Bruce Campbell couldn’t wait to get to work on his new and rather large project, but first he had to move the plane deep into the woods of Oregon. Several men had to take the wings of the plane apart to be able to transport Campbell’s new purchase to the secluded piece of land.
They deconstructed the wings in such a way that Campbell was able to reinstall them once the airliner was parked in its new home. Campbell believed his new idea would just start off as a “work in progress,” but it eventually morphed into something much more than that after many years of hard work and innovation.
5. Hard Learned Lessons
At first, Bruce Campbell just saw the airplane as a fun undertaking with no particular vision, however, the one thing that was clear to him was that he wanted to upcycle the aircraft. He strongly believed that jetliners could be transformed into incredible homes instead of being “mindlessly scrapped.”
For many years, Campbell worked on the fuselage while he resided in the freight vans nearby. It wasn’t easy for him to move to the forest, but he had a goal and wasn’t going to let it pass him by. Eventually, however, the van became infested with mice, so Campbell was forced to move into the aircraft without a building permit. This is when he started to truly understand the space; a space you wouldn’t believe was once a fully-functional airplane.
6. When Science and Art Meet
Talking to the Mirror about his vision Campbell declared that “shredding a beautiful and scintillating jetliner is a tragedy in waste, and a profound failure of human imagination.” He went on to say that some people might find a plane in the woods a strange, lonely living environment, but to him, it always felt totally natural. He believes that aircraft possess an “engineering grace unmatched by any other structures people can live within.”
He never drew up plans for the interior of the Boeing 727, but once he moved in, it all became so clear to him. “Next time you’re in a jetliner, close your eyes for a moment and remove all the seats, all the other people from your mind,” he told Business Insider when explaining his vision. “Then open your eyes with that vision and consider the expanse of the living room. It’s a good environment; it really is,” he said.
7. Hello, World!
Before Bruce Campbell was ready to show off his masterpiece aircraft home to the world, he washed the exterior of the fuselage with a high-pressure water spray. He told Daily Mail that it sounds rather easy, but pressure washing takes about four days.
The exterior of the Boeing 727 needs to be washed every two years and he needs to use ladders to access the engines and the top of the plane. Washing his beloved home could even be quite dangerous if he were to fall or if the water hose were to swing unexpectedly. That part makes him nervous, but once you see what he has done with the plane you’ll understand why it’s all worth it.
8. Aerospace Castle
According to Campbell every plane is destined to become an “aerospace class castle,” fit for anyone to live and retire in. “If a conventional home is a legacy age family Chevy or Ford, an airliner is a fresh new Tesla or Porsche Carrera,” he claimed during his interview with Daily Mail.
Indeed, just like a castle, Campbell propped his big commercial Boeing 727 airliner on concrete pillars, complete with its very own driveway just outside Hillsboro, Oregon. If anyone were to take a visit to the area, they would immediately notice how much work has been put into the airplane and that it didn’t just somehow miraculously land there.
9. What Stays and What Goes
Campbell tried to make use of all the equipment the plane already had, leaving most of the instruments and controls in the cockpit. However, he also changed things up by restoring and modifying the interior of the aircraft to make it fit to live in every day.
To him, his new home is a constant work in progress while also a fully-functional home. While he built his own makeshift shower, he worked to restore the original features like the flight stairs, the airplane-style lavatory, LED lighting, and some of the original seating. So what exactly does Campbell’s airplane home look like today?
10. Welcome To My Crib
When one enters Bruce Campbell’s Boeing 727 home, they need to use the airplane’s original fold-down stairwell, just like one would have done back when the plane was still in use and on the tarmac of a busy airport.
He has thought about every little detail, like the shoe rack at the front of the plane. The shoe rack is filled with numerous pairs of slippers, ready for visitors when Campbell greets them in his home. He prefers that everyone wear socks and slippers inside the aircraft to keep it clean, as cleaning such a big home isn’t all that easy.
11. First House Rule
Seeing that the glass floor can get dirty quickly because of the surrounding forest, he sticks to his sock/slipper rule at all times to ensure the plane is constantly in pristine condition. He lives alone, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t take pride in his home.
Campbell only wears slippers and socks to maneuver about in his unique Boeing 727 home. He loves the Plexiglas flooring, which adds to the look of the home. He often stands on the glass imagining what else he can do with the aircraft.
12. A Modest Life
The retired Boeing 727 has plenty of space, but Bruce Campbell lives quite a modest lifestyle inside the plane. He sleeps on a futon, cooks with a microwave and toaster, eating mainly cereal and canned food, and constructs lots of makeshift equipment.
Pictured here is Bruce chilling on his futon bed, surrounded by many of his belongings. However, when he isn’t relaxing, he is working hard at renovating certain elements like the bathroom, which is up next.
13. Shower Power
The aircraft features two of the original working lavatories, but the coolest part of it is the shower, which Campbell constructed close to the tail of the plane. In order for the plane to have running water and electricity to heat up the water, he dug a trench from where he rerouted a well power line.
He fused an old meter base with the old power cable and mounted a new circuit breaker cabinet inside the aircraft with a telecom cable, PVC conduit (tubing), and a backup water pipe. This allows him to brush his teeth and shave with clean water.
14. Fit for a Pilot
The cockpit still contains all of the original instruments, but Campbell converted it into his reading and entertainment area. This is the part of the aircraft that he constantly wants to improve and renovate because of all the fun gadgets.
“It’s a great toy. Trick doors, trick floors. Hatches here, hatches there. Star Trek movies in a Star-Trek like setting,” he told Business Insider. He went on to say that living in a plane is a constant source of adventure for a tech nerd like him. “Having lots of little toys enclosed in a very big toy is nirvana.”
15. An Engineer’s Working Station
For most of the day, Campbell is aboard the plane, doing work on his computer at his work station, where he plans how to improve the design of his home further. He derives so much enjoyment from planning what he’ll do next. “I think most people are nerds in their hearts in some measure. The point is to have fun,” he told Daily Mail.
It makes perfect sense that an engineer would want to live and work on his project at the same time because that’s the only way he gets to truly understand the space and what will make the area the most functional.
16. Flashing Lights
Just as Campbell constructed his very own running water system, he also restored the lighting both inside and out. He knew that living alone in a forest isn’t always easy, so he made sure all his basic amenities were covered.
This means that the plane is fully operational at night. He can work, read, and research in his plane all through the night without having to worry about power cuts. He repaired the original LED lights, which prove more environmentally friendly.
17. Keeping Up Appearances
Not only does Bruce Campbell take care of the interior of his airplane, he also tends to the surrounding forest area around his Boeing 727. Just like someone would care for their garden or yard, Campbell feels the same about the weeds and grass around the airliner.
Once a week he mows the lawn and picks the weeds beneath the plane to ensure that the area looks presentable at all times. It’s not an easy feat, but nothing is ever too much for Campbell.
18. Innovation At Its Best
When asked by the Daily Mail why he believes so strongly in upcycling aircraft and converting them into homes, Campbell emphasized the environmental benefits of such an endeavor. He noted how durable and strong airplanes really are, saying they can even withstand storms and earthquakes.
Not only can his Boeing 727 weather a storm, the plane is also easy to maintain and clean. “Their interior is easy to keep immaculately clean because they are sealed pressure canisters. They could last for centuries,” he said. Campbell also believes that converting airplanes could take traction around the world once people understand the environmental benefits.
19. Fully-Stocked Kitchen
Some people would shy away from living on an airliner because of the lack of amenities and supplies, but Bruce Campbell proves that it’s simply not the case. He doesn’t live far from the city, so getting supplies isn’t an issue.
As you can see, Campbell has a fully stocked kitchenette with all the condiments, supplies, and produce he needs. He might not be able to cook up a gourmet meal, but he’d rather feed his inner tech soul than his tummy anyway. The kitchen has running water, a microwave, and toaster, so making basic meals is as easy as pie. At least he isn’t eating airplane food, right?!
20. Going For a Spin?
Campbell might not be able to take his Boeing 727 out for a spin, but his home still offers that feeling with his row of preserved seats. He has kept them in their original form, and hence preserved that exciting feeling of being up in the air.
Most of the seats have been taken out to give him room to live and move around, but he wanted to keep a piece of the original plane to remind him why he loves his new unique home so much. Besides, guests are more than welcome to relax in the seats for as long as they want.
21. Playing Pilot
Campbell loves hanging out in the cockpit area. It’s the place where he gets his creative engineering juices flowing and provides a nook to unwind, read, and relax. It’s his very own little game room.
Sitting in the cockpit gives Campbell the opportunity to imagine how a pilot must feel in flight with all those gadgets and flashing lights before him or her. The power of technology and all its glory comes alive here.
22. Laundry Matters
When it comes to hygiene, Bruce Campbell has it all covered. He brushes his teeth with clean running water and even has his own top loader washing machine to keep his clothes looking clean and smelling fresh.
Campbell has proven that all one needs is a bit of imagination and some skills, and basically anything can become a mobile or makeshift home. So there you have it, there is no excuse not to do your laundry if he can.
23. A Typical Man
Just because Campbell lives in an aircraft, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t look after himself or his appearance. In fact, the meticulous design of the interior only reflects how neat and clean he really is on a daily basis.
He isn’t stranded on a boat or cut off from civilization, which means that Campbell shaves, showers, and cleans himself every day just like everyone else. Aboard his airplane home, he has just about everything he needs.
24. Getting Down to Basics
Campbell said there is a huge benefit to living in an airplane, made out of sturdy metal, instead of a home made of more common materials such as wood. He explained to Business Insider that “wood is, in my view, a terrible building material. It biodegrades – it’s termite chow and microbe chow. Or it’s firewood; depends upon which happens first.”
He believes that traditional rectangular houses are actually inferior because they opt for ergonomics instead of strength. “To me it makes no sense at all to destroy the finest structures available and then turn around and build homes out of materials which are fundamentally little better than pressed cardboard, using ancient and inferior design and building methods,” he said.
25. Being Logical
A lot of people ask Campbell if the plane crashed in the Oregonian woods and if he simply restored the body of the plane. He doesn’t care for questions like those because he said they are totally illogical and unreasonable.
His goal is to teach the world how much hard work goes into such a project. It sounds odd to him that people don’t understand the intricacies behind his home, but he also understands that not everyone is aware of the possibilities.
26. A Proud Owner
Posing in his Boeing 727, Campbell is extremely proud of his home. Home is where the heart is, and for him that’s right inside this very airliner where he gets to play with his toys and gadgets and feel inventive all the time.
This is just one notch on Campbell’s innovation belt because he has even bigger and more creative plans for the future. Read on to find out what he’s going to do next and where he wants to implement it.
27. Out and About
Believe it or not, Bruce Campbell only resides in his Boeing 727 for six months of the year. He likes a change of scenery, so for the other half of the year, he lives in Japan, which is quite different from his Oregonian living situation.
While he lives in Japan, Campbell works on many projects and ideas to keep himself busy. There is one venture in particular that has piqued his interest, and you won’t believe what it is … or maybe you can guess.
28. An Upgrade
That’s right! Campbell is planning on duplicating his project all over again, but this time in Japan with an even bigger airliner: the Boeing 747. He plans on buying a retired 747 airplane and converting it into another unique home for when he’s in Japan.
Seeing that he saved the environment in one country, it would only make sense that he’d do the same in his other place of residence. Now that he has already restored one airplane, moving into another one seems like a piece of cake to him.
29. Changing the Mindset
Campbell believes that his life purpose is to make a difference in the world for humanity and the environment. He is fueled by innovation. After all, he worked as an electrical engineer for most of his life.
There is something about recycling airplanes that gets him all excited and giddy; a niche he wants to claim has his own. “My goal is to change humanity’s behavior in this little niche,” Campbell said as he stood with his airplane home.
30. Why Oregon?
Campbell chose to reassemble his Boeing 727 airplane in the woods of Hillsboro, Oregon for two simple reasons: he was offered a job in the area after he graduated in the ’70s and he loves the greenery of the area. “I like the area and it’s very green and Oregon is a little independent minded which appealed to me. It’s a country setting, it’s very nice. It’s more than enough for the aircraft,” he wrote on his website.
The engineer put off buying a home until very late in his life. He told Daily Mail that he never wanted to have a mortgage because he felt that it restricted him financially. When he finally had enough money in cash to purchase a home, Campbell had a totally different idea in mind. “I had stopped thinking in provincial terms and I had thought like a free bird engineer,” he said.
31. An Open House
Bruce Campbell is happy to let curious onlookers and tourists stop by for a tour of his abode. You can even schedule appointments with him via his website if you’re in the area and you’re curious to see what it’s like to reside in an aircraft.
When asked how he feels about these passersby, Campbell told Daily Mail: “It happens frequently; it happens almost every day now and I encourage it.” He’s happy for everyone to witness his innovative home, as he wants to show people what he believes to be “a great toy” and “one of the finest structures mankind has ever built.”
32. Don’t Mind Me
With quite a few people frequently dropping by to get a tour of Campbell’s awesome Boeing 727, there have definitely been some awkward moments. One time he was taking a shower when several onlookers walked in for a visit.
Campbell explained that three quarters of his visitors schedule a time with him first on his website, but the other quarter just arrive randomly at any given time. “I live in a pretty transparent environment. I go about living while people are touring my aircraft and sometimes it’s very intimate,” he told Daily Mail. On the other hand, he finds it extremely rewarding because he gets to learn a lot and meet interesting people.
33. Concert on a Wing
Not only does Campbell open his house to inquisitive guests; he also hosts several events during the year. From the June 30 to July 3, 2018, he hosted Yuko Pomily, a vocalist from Tokyo, and other artists for a one-of-a-kind show. It took place on the grassy area in front of the right wing of his aircraft.
He advertised the show on his website as “A new concert option: Superb music rendered from a wing of a scintillating aerospace home” with several instructions and guidelines. He advised the guests to come in comfortable clothing fit for the countryside as well as tennis or running shoes. Campbell even offered slippers for those who desired to enter this aircraft cabin.
34. Partying on a 727
For those of you who missed the music show, Bruce Campbell is hosting a massive DJ dance party with his friends who own the Portland based party promotion company called Murderboat Productions, from the 7th to 9th of September, 2018.
Dubbed Turbulence: A Dance Party at a 727 in the Woods, the party will take place on the wing with the guests partying on the ground including a tour of the aircraft. So far, more than 14,000 people have shown interest on Facebook for what proves to be an unforgettable party of art, beer, and food with the permission of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
35. Campbell’s Social Life
Bruce Campbell is content with his modest lifestyle in his inventive bachelor pad, and he isn’t about to give it up ― not even to pursue love. “I will not marry and will not generate kids. I’m 68 so it’s too late anyway, but I simply never desired to be married or have kids. I enjoy romance and love and I indulge in it as much as civilization will allow,” he declared to Daily Mail.
He absolutely adores his nontraditional home, which explains why he finds the traditional concept of love and marriage just as confining as a mortgage. However, he is very close to a set neighbors who support what he does and believe in his vision completely. What’s more, his modest life certainly doesn’t deter his outspoken ambition, which brings us to this next project that is currently in the works.
36. Aerospace Castle V2.0
Campbell splits his time between living in his Boeing 727 in the woods of Oregon and residing in Japan, where he hopes to purchase a piece of land to create his second airplane home with a bigger Boeing 747-400.
He simply can’t get enough of the thrill that comes with upcycling airplanes, and believes that everyone else will feel the same once they visit the plane for social events and open tours. On his website, Campbell wrote that his goal is to “spark a renaissance of thought about how to utilize this remarkable resource.” His desire is for others to start building their very own airplane homes as well.
37. A Rebel with a Cause
The talented engineer plans to start work on his second airplane home in early 2018 on the shores of the island of Kyushu. He prefers this location because he wants his home to serve as a haven not only for him, but for the local community.
His vision is to transform this airplane into a tsunami lifeboat for places regularly threatened by tsunamis like Kyushu. Campbell wants people to know how airplanes can last for centuries and withstand very harsh conditions, owing to their high aerospace sealed pressure technology.
38. All Aboard!
The aircraft Bruce Campbell used to construct his home in Oregon is a Boeing 727-400 model, which was produced by Boeing from 1960 up until 1984. The model was constructed for short and medium-length flights, as it could use shorter runways at smaller airports.
This aircraft is the only aircraft model that Boeing Commercial Airplanes built with three engines and could seat between 149 to 189 passengers. Delta Air Lines was the last major U.S. carrier to use the model and retired its last 727 in April, 2003, while Northwest Airlines retired its last 727 in June, 2003. Today, only Iran Aseman Airlnes still operate 3 727-200s for passenger services.
39. A Bleaker History
Before Campbell purchased the Boeing 727 and turned it into his masterpiece airplane home, the aircraft was obviously used to transport people to different destinations. Well, how about the fact that it also transported a dead body and somebody very famous?!
Yep! The steel bird, which Campbell likes to call home now, once transported Greek tycoon Aristotle Onassis’s body to Greece after he died in France of respiratory failure on March 15, 1975. Jackie Kennedy Onassis, the former First Lady of the United States of America and Aristotle’s long-time friend and wife at the time, accompanied his body on the plane.
40. One of a Few
Turns out that Campbell is one of small number of people around the world, from Texas to Costa Rica and the Netherlands, who have transformed retired airliners and aircraft into functional living spaces. Martin Todd, a spokesman for the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association, said that the group “is happy to see aircraft fuselages re-purposed in a range of creative ways. We would want them to be recovered and to be re-used in an environmentally sustainable fashion,” Todd said.
AFRA is an organization which focuses on promoting sustainable practices for engines and aircraft. Another spokesman estimated that between 1,200 to 1,800 aircraft will be dismantled around the world over the next three years, while 500 to 600 will be retired every year over the next 20 years. Those could all be homes if more people start learning from Bruce Campbell’s example!
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