A man converted a World War II-era navy airplane into a 300-square-foot RV - and it's complete with a vintage pilot intercom system
- In 2019, Gino Lucci purchased a 1943-era
planeand spent a year converting it into a legal RV.
- The RV is made almost entirely from the plane, except for its engine and frame.
- Lucci said that the plane-shaped RV is a conversation starter when he takes it on road trips.
When Gino Lucci hops in the driver's seat of his RV, it's easy to forget that he's sitting in a camper and not a vintage
That's because Lucci, a Nashville, Michigan-based air force veteran, drives an RV that he constructed partially from an actual airplane.
Lucci, who owns a company that salvages airplanes, said that in 2019, he bought an old 1943 Douglas DC-3 Transport aircraft and converted it into an RV. The aircraft was commonly used for transportation in World War II, according to Boeing.
Lucci gave Insider a look at how he repurposed the plane and other aircraft and vehicle parts to make a 300-square-foot, legally certified motor home, which he uses to travel across the country with his family.
Lucci said he bought the plane for the 'cost of a used car'
Lucci told Insider that he wanted to turn a plane into an RV since he was a little kid. As a 12-year-old, he watched a TV show where a man strapped an airplane body to a school bus frame, he said.
Lucci said the idea followed him into adulthood.
"Throughout my career in the air force and my career now where I salvage airplanes, I would always save things, thinking, 'someday, we're going to do this,'" Lucci said.
Lucci said that in 2018, his son, Giacinto, found someone online selling the ideal airplane to convert into an RV.
Lucci bought the plane - a Douglas DC-3 aircraft that was used by the US Navy in World War II - because it was small enough to fit on the roads as a vehicle, he said.
The plane suffered damage from a tornado, so it was irreparable for flying, Lucci continued.
After a year of negotiating, Lucci bought the plane for the "cost of a used car," he told Insider.
In 2019, he had it transported to his home in Michigan, where Lucci and his family got to work on renovating it.
The RV is made almost entirely of the vintage plane
Lucci spent about one year from 2019 until summer 2020 completing the RV, he told Insider.
"I didn't get much sleep because I was so excited to go out and tackle what I was going to do that next day," Lucci said of the
Inside the vehicle, Lucci installed parts from a variety of old airplanes - such as light switches, an intercom system, and a decorative, nonfunctional copilot's yoke, or steering wheel.
Lucci also revamped the area that was once the plane's cockpit and is now the vehicle's dashboard. He added that the original airplane pilot intercom system still works.
In order for the RV to function, Lucci had to source some parts from an old vehicle. He said that his airplane-salvaging company, Round Engine Aero, had an out-of-service delivery truck, so he used its engine and frame for the RV.
Lucci also revamped the flooring using materials from an aviation warehouse and installed bathroom and kitchen faucets that were used in other planes, he said.
Other elements of Lucci's RV are common, but they have an aviation twist.
Lucci kept the plane's airstairs - a nod to the stairs that passengers and crew members use to enter and exit some planes - and transformed what was once a crew area into a plane-themed bedroom space for Lucci's youngest son.
Lucci also extended the galley, or the kitchen area, of the plane and added a microwave, cooktop, oven, and fridge.
Behind the kitchen is a living area, and in the bathroom, there's an airplane sink and faucet.
Finally, the back area is a bedroom with two twin beds and a bathtub, which Lucci said he added at his wife's request.
Lucci said the unique RV is ideal for family trips
Despite its unique shape and appearance, Lucci was able to register his RV as a Class A
Since completing the renovation in summer 2020, Lucci and his family have taken The Fabulous Flamingo on a handful of adventures, he said.
Their longest trip to date in the RV was a journey to Michigan, Texas, and Maine.
Lucci told Insider that his plane-shaped camper is a conversation starter. Children are often amazed at the giant airplane barreling down the road, and veterans are eager to share their memories about flying DC-3s and other military planes, Lucci said.
"I don't want to get too prideful, but the thing I love most about it is how happy people get when they see it," he said.
Lucci's other favorite part of his one-of-a-kind RV is driving down an empty road in the plane-car-hybrid.
"When you get out West and there is nobody around, it's just like you're flying," Lucci said.
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