Sleeping on airplane

Can You Live in an Airplane?

If you’re like most people, your first thought when boarding an airplane is how soon you can get off. But for a select few, they can’t wait to get inside – because they’ve converted airplanes into their homes! It may sound strange, but old planes can be surprisingly comfortable accommodations when converted correctly. 

So fasten your seatbelts as we prepare to take off on a journey through the world of airplane homes.

Can You Live in an Airplane?

The answer is a definitive yes – but not everywhere, and it may not be easy. 

First, consider the logistics of living in an airplane. Most people will want access to electricity and running water, so they must come up with solutions to provide them. Additionally, most aircraft aren’t well-designed for home use, which will require some interior demolition and reorganization. 

All of this is possible, though it might require significant amounts of time and money for those seeking to replicate a residential experience similar to a traditional house or apartment. On the other hand, those willing to “rough it” or deal with a bit of home weirdness can accomplish the same result more cheaply and quickly. 

Even if you can address all this, many communities and neighborhoods have zoning laws or HOA rules about the types of homes to build or the kinds of items to store on a property. For understandable reasons, some homeowners may not be thrilled about living next to a plane house. 

Therefore, those looking to live in a plane will need to find a property where they can legally do so, which might require some outside help with zoning requirements and land development. This can also add time, cost, and hassle to the process. 

Sleeping on airplane

How Did Bruce Campbell Find an Airplane to Live In? 

Seventy-three-year-old electrical engineer Bruce Campbell recently opened up to CNBC about his life in a converted airliner set up in the woods of a Portland, Ore., suburb. 

He was inspired by television footage of an airplane “boneyard” full of decommissioned jets he saw as a teenager. It was a vivid image that stuck with him. Decades later, he hired a salvage company to help him locate a plane – a decision he came to regret.

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How Much Did It Cost Bruce Campbell to Purchase the Airplane? 

Campbell blames the salvage company for causing the price of the plane to balloon from $30,000 to roughly $100,000. He ended up with a Boeing 727-200 – another choice he wouldn’t suggest others make.

Nevertheless, it has space for a futon that serves as a combination bed and workspace, a small kitchen area, two bathrooms, a basic shower, and even a washing machine! There’s also a “nerd cave” work area where Campbell works on hobbies and continues to restore aircraft systems.

In addition, it includes a dual work-social space on the wings, acting as a one-of-a-kind deck. The plane is notable as the last flight flown by its airline, which Aristotle Onassis, the second husband of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, owned. 

Transporting the plane was a considerable cost on its own. It totaled about $120,000 for the entire logistics process, including flying the still-operational plane to Oregon from Greece. In addition, Campbell spent another $15,000 restoring and modifying the aircraft over the following years. 

Overall, he spent at least $235,000 on the plane and roughly $25,000 on the land, totaling around $260,000. Still, that’s less than half the cost of the median home in the surrounding community of Hillsboro, according to Zillow

On an ongoing basis, Campbell is responsible for approximately $220 a month in property taxes and $100 to $250 monthly for his electric bill. Fortunately for him, he’s long since paid off the modest mortgage on the 10 acres the plane is on, which he bought in the early 1970s. 

Airplane home in forest

Can You Visit Bruce Campbell’s Airplane House?

Those who’d like to see a real-life airplane home are in luck, as Campbell offers tours of his house. He conducts them himself, giving would-be airplane home builders valuable one-on-one access to the man who may know more about the process than anyone. 

Outdoor self-guided tours are welcome during daylight hours, and Campbell is most often available to show people around after 1:00 p.m. However, visitors can also reach out in advance to check his availability. 

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Is It Safe to Live in an Airplane?

An airplane home can be just as safe as a regular home when constructed properly. But like a poorly built house or apartment, cutting corners could eventually lead to disaster.

While planes are fairly structurally stable, it’s vital to construct a safe and long-lasting foundation for them to rest on. In addition, caution is always necessary when working with electrical systems. You’ll need to modify the living space. 

As a giant metal tube, an airplane can also get quite cold or hot depending on the weather, so proper ventilation and HVAC are also necessary for safe living. When in doubt, it’s best to call a professional to avoid a serious or deadly accident. 

Woman sleeping in airplane home

Where Can You Find an Aircraft Boneyard? 

You can find aircraft boneyards around the world, including more than a dozen here in the United States. Boneyards are in states like Arizona, Arkansas, California, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Texas. 

However, some are affiliated with the military or other organizations and may not have planes or plane parts for sale. 

Can Anyone Purchase a Decommissioned Airplane to Live in?

Absolutely, provided they have the money. Receiving a loan for such an out-of-the-ordinary project would likely be difficult, requiring most costs to be paid in cash. While boneyards may be cool looking, they may not be the best resource for finding a plane to live in. 

In addition to the other advice mentioned above, Campbell recommends others who want to buy a plane to live in should skip the salvage companies and buy a fully functional plane. 

There’s no doubt living in a plane requires some sacrifices and a hefty chunk of money to make a reality. But it’s absolutely possible for dedicated, skilled individuals. Campbell says he has no regrets about his unusual living choice. Those with a passion for aviation and offbeat living may feel the same way!

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