In Topeka, Kansas sits an historic 1967 BAC One-Eleven airliner. It’s been there for at least 20 years, its engines never starting up and its wings never flying through the clouds again. Now, it’s up for sale and the possibilities of what to do with this grounded plane, are endless. I could see this thing becoming the coolest little home in the middle of nowhere.
I’ve long had a dream of just turning a plane into a sort of living space. Normal, everyday people could never afford own and operate an aircraft of this size, but they might be able to do something else with one. Forget a cabin in the woods, how about an airliner in the woods?
As BAE Systems explains, the BAC One-Eleven’s design started out in the 1950s as the 30-seat Hunting Aircraft H107. Hunting, as well as Vickers-Armstrongs, Bristol and English Electric merged in 1960 to become the British Aircraft Corporation. Vickers-Armstrongs was already working on a 140-seat development of its quad rear engine VC10. But eventually, it was decided that the H107 had merit and the competing projects within the conglomerate were merged to become the BAC107.
By now, the BAC107 went from its original 30-seat design to 59 seats, but as BAE systems notes, market research showed that wasn’t enough. The aircraft would be reworked to increase capacity to 80 and the pair of 7,000 lbf Bristol Siddeley BS75 turbofans of the project replaced for 10,410 lbf Rolls-Royce Spey 506 turbofans. The BAC One-Eleven (or BAC1-11, or 111) was born.
The BAC One-Eleven was noted for being an advanced aircraft for its day. For example, following the loss of a prototype during a 1963 stall test, all One-Elevens got stick shakers and pushers installed. These devices warn pilots of an imminent stall to intervene if needed.
Sadly, sales were hampered by sales restrictions in the United States, where authorities withheld permission for airlines to purchase foreign-built aircraft. American Airlines, Mohawk Airlines and Braniff International broke restrictions and placed orders.
The BAC 111-422EQ here, registration N789CF, was delivered to São Paulo Airways (VASP) in 1967, according to Planespotters. It flew with the airline until 1974 until it got converted into a VIP configuration and passed around numerous charters and oil companies.
However, as the current owner and seller notes, the aircraft hasn’t flown since the late 1990s to early 2000s. That suggests the plane was still switching hands while it sat idle.
The aircraft has survived such a long storage well.
The seller says that the aircraft is complete, including both engines, the cockpit and APU. Much of the interior has remained intact, too. The buyer gets some spares, including a brake assembly.
Sadly, don’t expect to come there with a bunch of batteries and get it home Vice Grip Garage style. There are no logbooks, and there’s no telling what will happen after you bring it back from over 20 years of idling. These engines would probably need an overhaul and that could set you back a million dollars, each.
So forget about getting this to fly again, that’s for people with big money. Instead, I’d say find someone with a truck and a lowboy trailer then tow this thing out to a field somewhere. Then build it out into the coolest little house ever.
That’s still admittedly quite expensive, but work with me, here. Similar has been done with a retired Boeing 727 by a man named Bruce Campbell (not that Bruce Campbell) and the end result is the stuff of dreams.
Alternatively, if you’re just weird enough and happen to have enough time, skill or money, you can build it into one of the coolest RVs on the road.
The seller says that they’re willing to entertain almost any offer, even trades. They say that they’d let it go for cheaper than you’d think. If you’re thinking about having the best flight simulator on the block, a teaching tool, or the coolest centrepiece for your plot of land, this might do the trick.