This evening as I indulged the online news junkie in me, I viewed a one minute PSA on the subject of “ups cycling” jetliners, making them into livable homes.
The message was sponsored, appropriately enough by the Coors Brewing Co., whose products are typically sold in 12 or 16 ounce cans.
If you can imagine such a can having the ability to think like a motivated person, they might dream of one day becoming the largest, most celebrated tin cans of all. Those that are bestowed with the gift of flight and the ability to travel anywhere-jet aircraft.
The PSA stated that three jetliners are retired every day. It almost gave the impression that these planes are shipped off to some distant place where they’ll take up space forever. But we know damn well they are torn apart and solid for scrap.
But there it was, an overhead shot of one of these planes sitting in the woods, looking for all the world like a crash scene, the kind that claims a “tragic loss of many souls…”
Even the wings were jagged, as if shorn off by treetops and lying hundreds of feet away, engines dangling and still smoldering in the canopy of branches above.
While I love aircraft, seeing one of these retired jetliners situated in a forest, sans wings and outfitted as a working residence, felt downright spooky. But, if I’m to believe this message was no joke, what I was seeing was somebody’s house.
Though this comparison may be way off, I have to say that living in an airplane that looks as if it’s crashed in the forest has about the same appeal to me as eating a barbecued burger made of roadkill. The concept seems sound on paper, but in practice it is gruesome and morbid.
How is it possible, I wonder, to sleep soundly at night in one of these old airframes?
Sleep disruptions would likely be peppered with imagined turbulence that suddenly wakes you in a cold sweat. Or perhaps there’d be mentally draining dreams of eternal flight delays that’ll have turned Terminal A into a purgatory of the damned sitting for hours in uncomfy chairs.
I have trouble believing that passion-filled dreams of the sort that leave you refreshed and maybe even with a sly smile in the morning are anything but a rarity.
And despite my sizable imagination, I think dreams of desperately horny lovers wrestling in the tiny confines of an aircraft lavatory as they join The Mile High Club are to be celebrated for their occasional symbolism “Maybe this means I’ll get laid soon,” I’ll think.
Speaking of, the only viable, positive association any family may have with raising a family in a retired aircraft is to be able to say “Now that you’re old enough, I can tell you Johnny or Janey,” motioning to the tiny WC, “this is just like the one where you were conceived, somewhere over Tulsa, I think. Your father and I used to call it “Cockpit 13.”
Other than this, which is admittedly a stretch, where’s the charm?
Jet aircraft have bathrooms so cramped that crossing your legs and holding it until you arrive seems plausible even if you’re only halfway to Hawaii. And memories of in-flight meals that bring their actual origins and ingredients strongly into question are valid deterrents to anyone’s fond recollections of airplane travels.
How about comfy aircraft chairs with lots of legroom and folding seat trays? Or handy overhead compartments for your carry-ons? How about all the in-flight magazines you could ever read or barf bags you could ever fill conveniently located in the “’seat-back’ in front of you?”
Maybe it’s the sing-song way the flight attendant says “Ladies and gentlemen, we are now beginning our descent into Denver International Airport…” or the questionably slurred speeches from the cockpit.
Or maybe you’re drawn by the PFD-personal flotation device-the use of which is visually demonstrated by the flight attendant prior to takeoff followed by the comforting closing line “…in the event of a water landing.”
Or perhaps it’s sudden screech of a peevish toddler in the seat behind you, which, if I interpret airplane cabin terminology correctly places you in the “seat-front,” aka the geographic opposite of the place where “in-flight mags and folded barf bags” are kept.
Just be glad that same toddler (and it’s quite possibly half-inebriated parent) isn’t seated next to you in “same-seat-right or same-seat-left.”
The only thing worse than hearing the parent’s comforting voice saying to the child “Shh, honey, we’ll be there soon,” and then, to the flight attendant, “I think I will have another rum and soda after all” would be hearing no parent at all.
Of course, you could enjoy the same peace and quiet if you like, too, without coughing up a few bucks or trading your lucidity for some Z’s just by taking the airline up on it’s thoughtful and free earplugs.
In case you are wondering, no, I did not write this aboard an international flight or any other flight for that matter. But of this you can be sure: This article will never find its way onto the pages of any in-flight magazine.
If anything, I’d imagine the rail travel industry having some use for it, though I imagine their seats have -front, -back, -left and -right designations, too. Not to mention peevish toddlers and drunken parents. There are, you know, the sort of things no glossy brochure would dare reveal to any would-be customer.
So, aside from all of these “perks,” what’s the market really like for recycled airplane-homes, and who’d want one anyway?
Simple: Someone with no imagination who has never flown before. Or someone who’s always wanted to start a business aboard one, like a daycare, a brothel or a dental office, to name just a few.
Or maybe an events center for lightweights whose better judgment and/or religious beliefs allow for fun but not too much fun. Say, Mormon bachelor parties.
It’d have the feel of a potentially raunchy, one-last-crack at the singles scene but, instead of strippers and tittie bars there’s Monopoly, Yahtzee, Dominoes and Kool-Aid.
The wildest part of the experience is that the groom picks the flavor without the groom’s knowledge. The plane never flies to Vegas and, except maybe for Going Straight to Jail without Passing Go and collecting $200, nobody gets hurt. Or laid.
On the other end of the spectrum, maybe Chuck E. Cheese or Applebee’s or TGIFriday’s would franchise the idea. It’d come complete with aircraft-inspired food and drink specials: The 747 Margarita, for example, or L-1011 Widebody Wings.
So forget about recycling aircraft info private homes. Commercial aviation has come up with much worse ideas-just ask the guy who thought up the idea for Trump Airlines.
And maybe, just maybe when the cost of Jet Fuel A gets to be too great the flight industry will remain aloft with a fleet of aircraft that no longer flies.
As a vintage video of a jet aircraft flies off into the sunset, the tag line will read “Fly the Friendly Fries of Ubetcha Ground Airlines…”