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Mon, May 05, 2008

Ground-Bound Antique Airliner To Become B&B In Scotland

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 our homes."

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