Ex-FedEx Cargo Jet to Get New Life as Live-In Flight School

Ex-FedEx Cargo Jet to Get New Life as Dwell-In Flight College

2013 picture from video reveals the FedEx cargo jet after touchdown at Merrill Discipline in Anchorage. (Alaska’s Information Supply/YouTube)

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A Boeing 727 cargo jet launched into a last journey the evening of April 6 — this time, not within the air and even rolling down a runway, however as a substitute fastidiously hauled from Anchorage’s Merrill Discipline airport down the asphalt of the Glenn Freeway to Massive Lake in Alaska.

The aircraft attracted crowds alongside a number of elements of the freeway because it made the 55-mile journey in simply over seven hours, cruising at a prime pace of about 20 mph, in response to Jon Kotwicki, the Massive Lake man with plans to transform the plane into housing. A web based tracker let folks know the place it was so they may watch from overpasses.

The aircraft left round 9:45 p.m. April 6 and reached Massive Lake round 5 a.m. April 7, Kotwicki stated. The aircraft was disassembled throughout the three weeks main as much as the journey — its wings and tail have been reduce off so it may match down the freeway.

The identical jet drew gawkers a decade in the past, sticking a tough touchdown at Merrill Discipline on a runway 2,000 ft shorter than is often required, earlier than being put to make use of by the College of Alaska Anchorage’s aviation expertise program.

Kotwicki and his girlfriend, Stephanie Blanchard, plan to remodel the huge jet right into a livable area, with plans to hire out rooms on Airbnb and home college students taking classes from the flight college they personal and function on the Massive Lake location. The couple transported a Douglas DC-6 and a McDonnell Douglas DC-9 to the property final fall, with plans to renovate these plane into housing, too.

Kotwicki stated he and Blanchard needed to open a live-in flight college so college students can totally concentrate on turning into pilots. They flew to 49 states to take a look at doable places, however Kotwicki stated that every time, they realized they missed Alaska.

A couple of 12 months and a half in the past, they discovered the right location, he stated: a 100-acre property in Massive Lake with an airstrip. They began setting up cabins, and through that course of got here up with the far-fetched concept to transform giant planes into among the housing models.

“There’s a giant studying alternative with all of those, the engineering and building of them, whether or not it’s on a Cessna or one in every of these massive ones, it’s pretty comparable scaled up, so we now have the chance to design and assemble the interiors to show lots of that construction and the inside workings of the techniques,” he stated.

For the subsequent six months, Kotwicki looked for decommissioned planes, discovering new leads largely by phrase of mouth, he stated. Ultimately he bought the 2 planes in Fairbanks and reached an settlement with FedEx and UAA to purchase the Boeing 727. FedEx had donated the decommissioned jet to the college in 2013.

Again in 2013, the aircraft required particular permission to land at Merrill Discipline as a result of the airstrip there’s solely 4,000 ft lengthy — 2,000 ft lower than what’s usually required for that jet’s touchdown.

Ten years after it touched down at Merrill Discipline, the aircraft once more acquired particular permission for transport — this time, a state allow so the semi may pull the aircraft mounted to 2 trailers to accommodate the huge size.

With the transport full, Kotwicki stated now that the objective is to have the aircraft transformed and prepared for friends by midsummer.

Kotwicki estimates the associated fee at between $600,000 and $800,000 to maneuver the aircraft and renovate it. He stated he plans to cost someplace within the low $200 vary to hire models every evening. He stated he couldn’t disclose how a lot he paid for the aircraft itself, due to his settlement with the college and FedEx.

It’s a aid to be completed with the transport, he stated.

“Tons of of individuals helped us do that,” Kotwicki stated. “In order a lot as we need to take credit score for it, it is extremely a lot all on account of the truth that different folks volunteered their time and information to make this doable.”

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