Ken London, a private pilot, would have cause a stir among vintage plane collectors if what he did with a retired Boeing 307 Stratoliner was done today. So what exactly did he do? Well, he bought aviation pioneer Howard Hughes’ 307 “Flying Penthouse” in an auction for 62 bucks and sent it straight to Ft Lauderdale to have it converted to, wait for it, a boat. Yes. As odd as it may sound, it did happen and this may be viewed as a ‘disaster’ to some aviation enthusiasts, especially for rather significant aircraft such as the 307.
Apparently, only 10 such aircraft were ever made in the late 30s and it was the first ever commercial aircraft to boast pressurized cabin, thus allowing it to fly higher to avoid restriction imposed by weather and avoid turbulence. Five of it were pulled to serve the U.S. military for the purpose of transatlantic flight during WWII and TWA, the company which the aircraft was pulled, was contracted to make the flights by the Army’s Air Transport Command for the duration up till 1944. Anyways, words had it that Hughes bought one 307 and had it converted into a flying penthouse which he aptly named, well, “Flying Penthouse.”
Subsequently, there was a change of ownership of the still fit-to-fly airplane, until it was grounded by due to the damage caused by 64’ hurricane. Then London came along, picked it up and turned it into a boat that is now known as the “Cosmic Muffin.” The conversion, which includes restoring the inside to its original VIP lounge glory, was completed in 1974. Perhaps the most brilliant part of the whole plane-to-boat conversion is the cockpit. Instead of replacing the original aircraft flight controls with boat’s controls, the flight controls were modified to operate the boat, therefore retaining the old world charm of the 307’s cockpit. Just by looking at the ‘cockpit’ image, you wouldn’t have thought it is actually a watercraft.
“Cosmic Muffin” is currently own by a Dave Drimmer, who started Plane Boats, Inc, in 1994 to develop and operate the yacht as “an historic/educational attraction.” The 56-footer plane-turn-boat had a mid-life rejuvenation, during which the hull and the cabin were rebuilt, and the cockpit restored, and new Yamaha 50HP four-stroke motors were thrown in for good measures. You can visit Drimmer’s Plane Boat for free, though an appointment will be required. Drimmer also sells t-shirts and other merchandizes to supplement the operation of “Cosmic Muffin” and it is also open for dockside charters, advertising, television and movie productions. You can learn more about Plane Boat and its history over at its official website.
Plane Boat, Inc. via The Vintage News