As Joanne surveyed the rubble she couldn’t believe this was all that was left of her house. It was nothing but bricks and assorted waste. She bent down and picked up a family photo that had miraculously survived and felt the tears fall down her cheeks.
She resolved to find a different house that wouldn’t fall so easily in a storm. Her friends and family couldn’t believe their eyes when she finally showed where she was going to live and what she did to this place!
In 1993 a massive hurricane tore through the town Joanne lived in destroying her home and many of her neighbors. The experience was terrifying. The day before the storm Joanne had only taken a small bag of her belongings with her to a shelter expecting to come home the following day.
Now as she held a small bag she realized everything she had lost. Already in her mid-forties, Joanne couldn’t believe she was starting her life over again. She was overcome with anxiety and sadness but a solution fell from the sky into her lap.
A few months before this natural disaster Joannes husband passed away. While she was happy her husband wasn’t here to see the damage, all she really wanted was for him to hold her in his arms and tell her everything would be ok.
Joanne felt completely alone and knew she had to dig deep for the strength to fix the situation. No one was going to rescue her beside herself. As she looked up towards heaven, a message from her husband appeared in the skies above.
Joannes husband had been a contractor before he passed away. He had helped make every inch of their home. Joanne couldn’t help but run a hand over a piece of wood that was still standing and felt a shiver roll down her spine.
This hurricane had taken her last memories of the love of her life. It was time for her to design a brand new future, and Joanne threw herself into the process. What would become or be the final result was impossible for anyone to imagine.
Joanne was used to making things feel beautiful and complete. She worked as a cosmetologist at home with many loyal and long-term customers. By losing her home, she had also lost her supplies and her office.
If Joanne wanted to work again she needed to focus and build a space that would stay with her for life. Everything depended on finding a space that fit Joannes’s needs. She began to search real-estate listings but had a vision of something even better.
Joanne had a very tight budget and began to consider a home on wheels. With her limited funds it seemed she couldn’t afford much, and she also needed space for her two children. It felt bleak but a phone call from her brother-in-law brought surprising news.
After a year of living with friends, Joanne craved having her own space. It felt like a burden on her friends and she needed a solution. With one phone call, her eyes opened up to a brand new possibility.
Her brother-in-law worked at the local airport and knew that there was an old plane coming up for sale. Normally the planes were just taken apart and sold for scraps, but her brother-in-law was very excited. This could be the perfect solution for her family and offer all the space they would desire.
Joanne was shocked but also intrigued. The big question was, could she afford this? A plane sounded expensive, but her brother-in-law had one more trick up his sleeve.
Richard Koredew was the manager of a successful airplane restoration company that had made many suites out of airplanes for citizens of Memphis. Joanne got his number and the two arranged to meet and look at Richard’s designs.
As he walked her through a parking lot of old airplanes, Joanne felt like it was a surreal experience. She had never been around so many old abandoned planes and it was an unusual feeling. Then Joanne saw exactly what she had been waiting for and instantly screamed in excitement!
Joanne had spotted an old Boeing 727. The plane had its first flight on May 11 1968 September 20, 1993. At the same time, Joanne was losing her home, the aircraft was being retired. It felt as if they had been waiting for each other this entire time!
Richard saw how excited Joanne was at the prospect of living on the plane and said he would empty it out so she didn’t have to pay to remove everything. It would take a few weeks to get everything sold, but when Joanne got the bill her jaw fell on the table.
Joanne was nervous to receive the final price from Richard. She didn’t have a budget big enough to buy an apartment or a house so how could she possibly afford a plane? The final price for the empty aircraft was only $2000 USD.
Joanne couldn’t believe her luck! She happily purchased the metal aircraft and then also worked out where to park it so she could start working on the interior. Joanne would need a specific plot of land to make her forever home dreams become reality.
Delivering an empty aircraft has its own difficulties and in the process, it got slightly banged up and cost Joanne another $4000 to deliver. She was lucky to have a great property that was available to park the aircraft and begin the renovations.
The way Joanne decided to park her house was with the tail of the plane fixed into a concrete block and the front or “nose” of the plane hung over a lake. It gave the impression that her home was in midflight and was a fantastic photo opportunity. Joanne rolled up her sleeves and began to chip away at carving out an oasis.
Joanne worked with Richard but mainly designed everything herself. She had a clear vision of what she wanted the airplane to have. Joanne walked the plane saw her dreams coming true and began to map out where everything would go.
Her final blueprints included three bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, a fully equipped kitchen, a dining room, and a bathroom with a big bathtub. With an interior width of four meters, every inch was going to be used and counted.
The plane was extremely bright and had 76 interior windows. It was perfectly situated between trees and nature with the lake visible through the bathroom windows. Joanne wanted to do a lot of the work herself and bought 9 and 16-inch screwdrivers to get the jobs done.
The first task she did was focus on the floor. She got everything to the same level and even put carpet down in all areas minus the kitchen. In the kitchen space, she chose linoleum tiles and a retro decorating scheme. Would Joanne keep anything from the original airplane in her remodel?
Joanne decided to keep one of the original airplane toilets and got it fitted so the plumbing still worked for visitors and guests. She also kept all the luggage compartments and used them for bedding or clothing.
It felt like a dream come true to work on the plane and bring her vision to light. She knew her husband would be smiling down at her as he watched her progress. The completed renovation would take years but Joanne continued to make memories every day.
Joanne had to figure out what to do with the plane’s original runway staircase that was used for guests to board. She decided to lean into the unique attribute and kept it as her front door. Joanne also used one simple gadget for the big reveal.
Using a typical garage door opener she was able to control the staircase falling to the ground and welcoming guests to her house. It was one of her favorite reactions when friends came over and got to board! The plane also had many standard qualities similar to anyone else’s home.
Just like a regular house, Joanne made sure the plane had electricity, water, and plumbing. When it was time for the installation she called the neighborhood company that had previously installed the power at her first home.
It was the same procedure and the house had powerful air conditioners, a washing machine, an oven, and a dishwasher. Every time Joanne’s friends and family came over they were continually impressed by what she was able to accomplish. As the years went by, the house took on a different meaning to Joanne.
Her children originally moved into the plane with their mom but as time passed they found spouses and started their own families. Joanne became a grandmother and loved having her grandchildren over, especially to play in the big bathtub.
She treated herself to installing a hot tub in the bathroom and it became an everyday luxury to have a long soak while sitting in her home. After losing everything in a hurricane the house felt like Joanne’s chance to start over.
After years spent getting everything just right, the full cost of the renovation was $24,000 USD. It was worth every penny to Joanne who created an economical and energy-efficient home that stays warm even during winter.
Joanne’s home was highlighted in ‘Airport Journals’ a decade after she originally purchased her dream home. The magazine was surprised to learn where Joanne got her inspiration from.
Joanne was a big fan of celebrity millionaire Donald Trump’s private jet that she had seen pictures of in the ’90s. She affectionately even started calling her aircraft, “little trump” as an homage to his luxurious aircraft.
Joanne was also interviewed by ‘The Today Show’ and ‘NBC News’ and everyone was amazed at what she had been able to accomplish. Joanne became a motivational inspiration, but what were the final plans with the house in the sky?
In Joanne’s television appearances she liked to joke about moving into a different plane in the future that had two levels. It would be nice to walk upstairs to bed for a change but otherwise, she is very content in her home.
In her Today Show interview, Joanne said “My grandchildren love running up and down. And my friends love parties here – but there aren’t any flight attendants to serve their drinks!”