Deep in the Oregon woods and rolling hills outside the Portland suburbs, where orchards dot the landscape, a Boeing 727 appears to have landed at the top of a steep dirt driveway encircled by towering pines. For Bruce Campbell, it is home.
Complete with wings, and landing gear resting on pillars, it is where Campbell spends six months of the year. In 1999, the former electrical engineer had a vision: To save retired jetliners from becoming scrap metal by reusing them. Slightly built and with a charming smile, the 64-year-old Campbell sees the task as part of his goal in life. “Mine is to change humanity’s behavior in this little niche,” he said as he stood beside the plane, lamenting the need to power wash its exterior and trim the dense foliage. Campbell is one of a small number of people worldwide – from Texas to the Netherlands – who have transformed retired aircraft into a living space or other creative project, although a spokesman for the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association was unable to say precisely how many planes are re-used this way. AFRA, an organization made up of industry leaders including Boeing that focus on sustainable end-of-service practices for airframes and engines, estimates that 1,200 to 1,800 aircraft will be dismantled globally over the next three years, and 500 to 600 will be retired annually over the next two decades. “AFRA is happy to see aircraft fuselages re-purposed in a range of creative ways,” said AFRA spokesman Martin Todd. “We would want them to be recovered and be re-used in an environmentally sustainable fashion.” Campbell was in his early 20s when he paid around $23,000 for the 10 acres on which his plane rests. His original plan was to make a home from freight vans, but then he decided a plane would be better. A van still sits nearby, covered in growth.