The Oregon landscape is breathtaking. The rolling mountains and patchworked green areas of farmland that border the forest attract adventure seekers from all walks of life.
Hikers explore the creeks, nature trails, and wetlands in the area, but many come just to see the hulking beast that lies beneath the trees, just west of Hillsboro.
It Didn’t Belong
You’d expect the object to be in a museum, not hidden away in a forest. Those bewildered adventurers who are lucky enough to see it find themselves asking a million questions.
Did it crash out here? Or had it been placed here for a reason? And just what was an old Boeing 727 doing out here, anyway?
The Boeing 727
The Boeing 727 was known as one of the largest commercial planes in its day – large enough to bear up to 189 passengers. But being large enough to carry so many passengers wasn’t the only thing its size had been designed for.
If the Boeing 727 had to make an emergency landing in a forest or field, its sheer size would make it easy to spot. Was this the case with the plane, just west of Hillsboro?
The Boeing 727 reached the height of its popularity during the 1970s and 1980s. This iconic piece of machinery transported thousands of passengers in its heyday, but, over time, it became obsolete.
The jetliner was replaced with newer, better models, and the old Boeings were stripped for their parts, grounded forever. But Bruce Campbell was determined to save at least one from this sad fate.
65-year old Bruce Campbell was a retired electrical engineer. He had always had a deep appreciation of planes and their design – the Boeing 727 in particular. So when he heard that one was about to be scrapped, he managed to scrape $100,000 together to buy it outright.
But, as we know, Bruce was an electrical engineer… not a pilot.
Bruce lived alone on his tract of land in the woods, but he was lucky enough to have worked in an industry that he loved. Even beyond retirement, he was always tinkering with electrics and working on his many engineering passion projects.
So when he heard that a Boeing 727 was about to be gutted and chopped up for parts, he jumped at the opportunity to save the iconic machine. But he had no idea what he’d find inside.
Revealing The Floor
Bruce was already down $100,000, and he intended to spend a lot more on his new project. He removed all the seats in the old Boeing to reveal more than 1,000 square feet of floor space.
He had an idea of what he wanted to do with the plane, but could he pull it off?
The Costs Add Up
When Bruce had spent the first $100,000, he fully expected his pet project to cost a lot more. The initial cost didn’t even cover shipping and repairs, never mind the transformation he intended to make.
All in all, the project was set to cost Bruce over $220,000. But how could he get that kind of money?
Bruce began to look for ways to cut costs. He got in touch with a salvage company, and they began to clear out the plane. They took everything inside that was of any value – including the seats, trays, and even the carpeting.
Bruce had bought the plane with all of its parts, save for one crucial piece – the engine. Because he was going to live in the plane, not fly it.
“Jetliners are masterful works of aerospace science, and their superlative engineering grace is unmatched by any other structures people can live within,” Bruce explained.
“Retirement into an aerospace class castle should be every jetliner’s constructive fate. They should never be mindlessly scrapped.” So, what does the interior of the plane look like now?
The plane came with all the plumbing and wiring, but it didn’t have a shower. Bruce tackled this problem by making an improvised cabin with hot and cold water, provided by an electric pump. It has a washing machine and a sink, but no fridge.
Bruce likes to live off the land, and what little food he does buy he stores in cans in the aircraft home. He does all his cooking in a microwave or a toaster. The cockpit is where Bruce likes to have a bit more fun…
Bruce calls the cockpit his “cyber office.” It’s alight with various beeping lights, buttons, and wires – the perfect playground for a tech-junkie like Bruce. He spends hours tinkering with the wiring, and he enjoys watching sci-fi movies while reclining in the pilot’s seat.
Because most of the passenger seats have been removed, Bruce had space to install a modest futon so he could sleep in his dream home. But is living in a Boeing 727 really practical?
“They’re incredibly strong, durable, and long-lived. And they easily withstand any earthquake or storm. Their interior is easy to keep immaculately clean because they are sealed pressure canisters,” Bruce explained.
“I don’t mean to offend, but wood is in my view a terrible building material,” Bruce wrote on his website.
Easy To Clean
So, the bugs and debris of the forest can’t enter the plane, which makes doing household chores that much easier.
“It’s a great toy,” Bruce says about his airplane home. “Trick doors, trick floors. Hatches here, latches there, clever gadgets everywhere.” But, Bruce only lives in his airplane home for six months of the year.
Eyes On The Next Prize
For the other six months of the year, Bruce opens up his Boeing home to guests from around the world, transforming the plane home into an aerospace hotel.
“Nothing compares to the exhilaration and satisfaction provided by an aerospace-class home, and many people understand this instinctively,” Bruce wrote on his website. But Bruce now has his eyes on something much bigger – a Boeing 747-400, which is three times bigger than the 727.