Bruce Campbell of Hillsboro, Oregon has a “plane way” of living. Near Portland, on a hill in the woods, Campbell lives in a Boeing 727. The airplane is fully intact, with the landing gear perched up on pillars. For half the year, this is where Campbell makes his home.
His inspiration came from a vision he had in 1999. The retired electrical engineer realized that he could save obsolete jetliners from the scrap heap by finding a new use for them. Now Campbell is 64 years old and still feels that attempting to improve human behavior in this small niche is his calling in life.
Campbell is not the only person charged with this spiritual duty. Worldwide, there is a small enclave of individuals who have renovated retired airplanes for either living spaces or even creative endeavors. The Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association (AFRA) does not, however, have an exact number representing just how many airplanes are recycled in this manner. They do know that there are airplane homes in Costa Rica, the Netherlands and Texas as well as an aircraft boat in Florida.
The AFRA is an organization that is comprised of airplane industry leaders. Its focus is toward end-of-service practices that are sustainable for engines and frames. An estimated 1,200 – 1,800 crafts will face dismantling worldwide over the three years to come. Within the next twenty years, 500 – 600 airplanes will be retired.
AFRA spokesman, Martin Todd, said that their organization is pleased to witness the creative ways in which folks have recycled the fuselages of airplanes. They just want to see that the projects are done using environmentally sustainable measures.
When Campbell heard about a hairdresser from Mississippi who was living in a re-purposed airplane, he bought the 727 and put it on his land in Oregon. He has learned a lot from the experience and spent $220,000. With his hard-earned knowledge, he plans on buying a Boeing 747 and do the same thing in Japan, where he spends the other six months of the year.
To add to his plane way of living in Oregon, Campbell is restoring several of the 727’s original features like some seats, the stairs, cockpit, lavatory and even LED lighting. A flight instructor and pilot, Katie Braun, became interested in Campbell’s plane home in 2012. She has visited him and is amazed by what he has managed to do. Braun is impressed that Campbell has the electricity working and beacons flashing. She said that she is fascinated by the idea and would love to see it become a more popular environmental way of living.
As exciting as the concept is, Campbell says that the transition was challenging. During the restoration, he lived in a nearby mobile home. He ended up moving into the airplane early, without his building permit, due to an infestation of mice in the mobile home.
On board living is rather spartan. He is only able to cook with either a toaster or microwave, limiting him to canned foods and lots of cereal. His bed is a futon and his shower is makeshift. Upon entering his abode, everyone must either wear their socks or a pair of provided slippers in order to avoid tracking in the dirt. Campbell has, however, created a website, detailing how he went about this project. Indeed, his chosen lifestyle in Oregon, and soon to be Japan, is a plane way of living, but he would not have it any other way.
By Stacy Lamy