Abandoned Airplane Takes Off Again As Luxury RV

You remember how you wanted to combine everything as a kid? Like lions and tigers into ligers and so on? Well, some kids dream of transportation hybrids. For eighty-year-old [Gino Lucci], now an Air Force retiree, that dream involved a recreational vehicle that combined an airplane fuselage and a delivery truck.

There it was, rusting in a field outside Rolla, Missouri — the vintage plane that would start [Gino Lucci] on the path to fulfilling this dream. This project began when [Gino]’s son spotted the body of a 1943 Douglas R4D military transport aircraft.

Over the next year, [Gino] and his sons painstakingly fused the fuselage to the chassis of an International DuraStar 4400 medium-duty truck. We love how they went about it. [Gino] and the boys just kept putting the two together and cutting away the fuselage in stages until they got it right. After making it roadworthy, it took another two years to work out the kinks.

The Fabulous Flamingo is 38 feet (11.6 meters) long and stands 12.5 feet (3.81 meters) tall. But the best metric is the width. It’s unspecified, but is apparently half an inch (1.27 cm) under the definition of what is street legal in Michigan. They used the plane’s engine cowlings as fenders and got the mirrors off of a ’70s Ford pickup. Floor it past the break and check it out.

This build cost about $20,000 USD all told. If you’ve got that kind of money, you could instead stuff a powerful engine into a tiny plane to get your kicks.

30 thoughts on “Abandoned Airplane Takes Off Again As Luxury RV

      1. Dave was wrong – it wasn’t a typo. The linked article says “US Air Force retiree Gino Lucci […] had been dreaming about such a contraption since he was just eight years old”, so the original was correct, if confusingly worded; now, though, you’ve added about three decades to the age of the guy in the video!

  1. I saw this vehicle this summer in Oshkosh Wisconsin. They were attending the Experimental Aircraft show and were parked in the fly mart vendor area. It’s a cool vehicle. It’s nice to now know the background.

      1. Actually, the result is typically quite different in the less than a thousand year interval. Aluminum oxide tends to bind tightly to the underlying material, forming a protective layer against further corrosion or oxidation. Iron oxides, conventionally referred to as rust, tend to form oxide products that break loose from the underlying material exposing that material to further corrosion. Some specific alloys of iron can have tighter binding, but the rust stains from those alloys indicate material is still coming loose, just more slowly. In some cases, such as alkaline exposure, aluminum will corrode rather rapidly as the oxides are soluble at high pH levels and therefore, being removed, expose the underlying material.

        Eventually, when the sun goes nova, the material will be once again scattered into interstellar space, so they actually are identical.

  2. That is awesome!
    Kudos to [Gino] for building such an awesome RV! That looks really unique and fun.

    I’ve always loved the old DC-3 and its derivatives. They were game changing aircraft when Douglas came out with them, and any aircraft that has been in active use for as long as they have has my respect (some have even been re-engined with turbo-props to extend their useful life).

  3. This vehicle shouldn’t be legal. The blind spot in front of the vehicle is easily big enough to block any hope of seeing a pedestrian in a crosswalk at a stop light/sign. Those mirrors are not sufficient, either.

    I doubt he’d even see an entire mid-size car in front of him.

    Now realize an eighty year old is going to be driving it.

    This thing is a ticking time bomb.

    1. The pointy nose looks far less obstructive than that of the tractor portion of any Semi-Truck (here in the US anyway) – And the mirrors are the same! (not counting cab-overs… :-) )

      1. The nose would be less obstructive, you could see to the sides better, but it looks like it sits higher than a Semi, and the top of the nose would be a lot higher in your vision than a Semi blocking more forward view.
        It looks like you could just about go bumper to bumper with an SUV without it touching the underside of the nose.

    2. Hi this is Gino and I am the builder. Friend you are very wrong. First I am not 84 i wa 48 when I started this and am 50 now. Then the blind spot, I have better visual on this than I did when it was my delivery truck. Added safety I have a camera system. I used my “Hilbilly Engineering ” and moved the fuselage till we had the most.optim visibility. The nose actually sits several degrees down. I am blind maybe a foot or so straight off the nose. And the normal blind that you have on the passanger side. I tried several styles of mirrors. Thus were the best all around . I can see from nose to tail tail lights un obstructed. I had to meet many safety requirements. And inspectuonsThe biggest safety factor are the fools who see how close they can get to me for a video shot. Don’t speculate on what you have no clue aboud!

  4. I find it difficult to see how the builder got around visibility issues with this design. It seems there must have been a need for a few cameras and display screens to be able to see objects on the near proximity to the right side.

    1. I appreciate that, until.you sit in it , it can be hard to understand. Even the front it odd. You only use the pilot window when viewing forward. You really need to sit in it to appreciate how I designed it.

  5. We had one of these visit our WWII MV club show here in Brisbane perhaps 10 years ago, but I think it headed overseas after that. Just search ‘DC3 camper’ images, it had a kangaroo roundel on the side.

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