Man Leads the Charge in Recycling Airplanes to Be Used as Homes

It’s a do-it-yourself project unlike any other you’ve ever seen, constructed from a Boeing 727 destined for the scrap heap.

A Dream Is Born

Image: CBC News

In Hillsboro, Oregon, there is a retired electrical engineer who likes to think big and make his creative plans come to life. Bruce Campbell, 64, bought a four-hectare (10-acre) stretch of land deep in the Hillsboro woods for $23,000. He was a man with a plan.

Campbell has always been a tinkerer and as a toddler he had a knack for creating something new out of old materials. In the case of the purchased land, he was looking to construct himself a home out of several freight vans. And then he found out about a different kind of dwelling someone else managed to build.

Plans Start to Change


About 20 years after his initial freight van idea, Campbell got word of a Mississippi hairdresser named Joanne Ussery who purchased a Boeing 727 and converted it into her home. This followed her more ‘traditional’ house having burned down, so after that unfortunate event she took the plunge and erected a fully functional airplane abode next to a lake.

A massive airplane as a home piqued Campbell’s creative curiosity, plus he also thought it was a much more exciting project than his original idea. The freight van concept was already in motion, but he shifted his attention to purchasing a plane he could park on the land he already owned.

The Big Boeing Purchase


Finally, in 1999, Campbell had enough cash to buy himself a Boeing 727 from Olympic Airways, based out of the Athens Airport in Greece. The price? A hefty $100,000, and that was before he even moved the thing.

That daunting feat turned out to be the biggest challenge Campbell faced trying to make his dream home become a reality. Coordinating the move and ironing out the many details added an additional $120,000 onto the project’s cost, bringing the total up to $220,000. Despite the expenses, in Campbell’s mind it was money well spent and, eventually, he would prove himself right.

Parking a Plane in the Woods


Obviously, this was a monumental project, but Campbell could not wait to jump in and get his engineer’s hands dirty. First, he had to move his Boeing into the deep woods of Oregon. He enlisted several men to disassemble the plane’s wings so that it could be placed on the remote piece of land he purchased.

The wings were removed so that they could be re-attached by Campbell once the airplane was positioned. He always thought this Boeing project would be an ongoing “work in progress,” but over time it began to transform into so much more.

Lessons Learned


As he took the first steps forward into his labor of aircraft love, Campbell looked at his project as something fun to work on. He did know that he wanted to show that airplanes of this size could be repurposed as functional living spaces instead of being hauled off to the scrapyard when they were finally grounded.

The first few years of the rebuild, Campbell focused on the fuselage. He also made the decision to move into the forest and set up shop in the nearby freight vans he had worked on earlier. After mice decided to move into the vans with him, Campbell began camping in the Boeing. Living there, he developed a deeper sense of what the aircraft could become.