Convair 440 Given New Life
If half the fun is getting there,
then what happens when the method to get there becomes the
destination? That's what a Scottish couple intends to find out as
they restore an American airliner from the 1950s into a luxury bed
and breakfast catering to travelers seeking a getaway harkening
back to the romance of the airlines.
Tricia and Andrew Scott came across the 1959 Convair 440
Metropolitan while searching for a static fighter plane to use as a
business gimmick for Mr. Scott's plant nursery, BBC news reported
this week. Though the Convair was much larger, Mrs. Scott fancied
the idea of turning it into a restaurant or coffee shop. Once they
saw the inside of the aircraft, its potential became clearer and
the couple decided it would be perfect as a small hotel.
The Convair 440 design was a later development of the Convair
240 which was conceived as a replacement for the Douglas DC-3 in
the years after WWII. The 440 incorporated advancements in the 240
design that included extra cabin-soundproofing, weather radar, and
other aerodynamic improvements. The first Convair 440 was flown on
October 6, 1955.
The Scotts purchased the aircraft for £10,000. Since the
Convair had to be transported on land after being grounded flight
years ago by an in-flight engine fire, the moving cost was double
the purchase price. Moving it from its location in Coventry to
Carluke cost £20,000.
The couple hopes to easily recoup their investment once the
aircraft is reconfigured. With airline themed rooms designed by
Gary Doy of Design Q of London, their hope is to offer lodging at
£400 per night. Guests will be given a boarding pass on
arrival, have the option of wearing a flight attendant or pilot's
uniform, and will be able to operate controls within the aircraft
during their stay.
A similar project of turning a Convair into a bed and breakfast
was tried in the United States by Sheffield, OH resident Ed
Guidicelli in 2007. Unfortunately, that plan never got off the
ground due to the local council passing an ordinance against what
they considered eyesores on private property; Guidicelli
subsequently listed the aircraft for sale.
Unlike the American Convair, the Scotts were fortunate to obtain
local support for their project from the South Lanarkshire Council
and permission to turn the aircraft into lodging.
The B&B should open to its first customer in 2008 and the
couple aims to attract jet-setting visitors willing and able to
afford a bit of first-class lodging.
"I hope John Travolta finds out about the plane," Mr. Scott said
to the BBC. "I'd be interested to hear what he thinks about it. Our
houses are quite similar now, as we both have two planes outside