I'm a pilot – I bought an airplane catering truck then turned it into a gorgeous tiny home | The Sun

A PILOT has revealed how he turned an airplane catering truck into a mobile tiny home – and it only took a few months.

Mark Pankey started working at Southwest Airlines following his retirement from the U.S. Air Force in 2016 after serving for 20 years.

He initially planned on building a hangar-style home on a small plot of land in Crested Butte, Colorado after getting the job.

The goal was to buy an airplane, fly to work, and store it at his home when he wasn't jetting across the United States.

In the meantime, he lived in an apartment complex next to his lot and commuted to airports in Denver and Los Angeles whenever he was scheduled to fly.

"I'd stay at hotels before I actually went to work. I had to pay out of pocket and I was spending like $800 a month," Pankey told Insider.

"So I thought, what if I bought a van and renovated it?"

He made it happen and parked the van at airports, where he slept to save money while he was at work.

This became his normal routine for the next few years until the Covid-19 pandemic hit and stopped all air travel.

Pankey used this time to rethink his lifestyle, especially after pilots were told to take time off with partial pay.

Most read in Lifestyle


Missing X Factor star Levi 'drowned in Barcelona' cops tell devastated mum

hard watch

Towie's Elma Pazar breaks silence on Diags 'cheating' on her with brunette

on my wick

New Towie feud explodes between Pete Wicks and his ex co-stars after he quits


Mystery beast spotted roaming UK streets as public urged to stay away

"If Covid-19 can shut down the world, maybe it's not a good idea to go into debt right now and build a big old house," he said of his plans for the hangar home.

He loved the process of renovating his van and decided that he would do it again – on a much bigger scale.

"I had seen these box trucks at work, and I thought about how cool would it be to live in one of those or to build one out," he said.

"I was telling another pilot this, and sometime later he sent me a text saying that a whole bunch of them were being auctioned off in Seattle."

Pankey bought a former Southwest Airlines catering truck for $3,300 in the auction.

The vehicle included a scissor lift, which was formerly used to raise the box-shaped cargo space on the back of the truck to the height of the plane.

This helps to load food and beverages easily into the aircraft.

"It actually spent a lot of time in Las Vegas, and then they moved it up to Seattle," he said. "It's about 20 years old."

The truck had a few shelves that Pankey cleared out so that he could start the project from scratch.

One of the first things he did was rebuild the truck's flat roof since he wanted it to feature a slope.

"I wanted a slanted roof just so I could collect rainwater on one side, and I wanted to make it taller as well, so I had a little bit more room," he said.

Pankey welded metal beams together and extended one side of the roof by two feet.

He also added solar panels on the roof where it was angled toward the sun.

Pankey said that the original fiberglass roof of the truck was flimsy.

"They're super thin – like you could probably put your hand through it if you punched it with your fist."

It took about a week to cover the inside of the truck with spray foam insulation, which he said was a "huge load off my shoulders" when he was finally able to complete the job.

The insulation wasn't just good for warmth but also made the truck soundproof as well.

"It was so quiet in there. Even if I was running a power tool on the inside, you couldn't hear anything from the outside," said Pankey.

"One of my neighbors used to bring over his amp and his guitar, and he would sing in it. It was really loud before the foam, and after you couldn't even hear it at all."

He parked his tiny home outside of his Colorado apartment complex and built everything himself, including the floors, walls, and cabinets.

Some of his neighbors were as excited about Pankey's project as he was.

"They loved it. They would come over every day and cheer me on," he said. "Or they'd want to go up and down in it, so I'd run it up and down for them."

It took Pankey seven months to complete the truck – from April 2020 to November 2020.

He named the vehicle "SnakPak" and painted it gray to resemble some of the fighter planes that he flew back in his Air Force days.

Pankey believes that he spent between $30,000 and $35,000 on the build, including the cost of the truck.

The scissor lift still works and can raise the truck up to 17 feet, although Pankey rarely lets it get that high and instead raises the truck about five or six feet up when he's parked so it's level with the front deck.

"It's easier to get out on the front deck that way. When the box is down, I have to climb up to get out onto the deck where I cook and eat," he said.

The inside of the truck includes a lofted sleeping area where Pankey fits a queen-sized mattress.

The other side of the box section has a composting toilet and shower cubicle made of tempered glass.

His electricity comes from the solar panels and the truck has a water tank that he can fill up with rainwater or at truck stops.

After selling his apartment and the bit of land he had, Pankey has lived full-time in the truck for over two years.

He said that his time living in a van helped him adapt to his new tiny home.

"I didn't have a whole lot of room in the van, so when I got into this thing, it was massive," he said.

For those who want to follow in his footsteps, Pankey said that people should take into consideration the extent of their building skills.

"When something goes wrong, do you need to get someone to fix it, or are you going to learn how to do it so that you can fix stuff on the road?" he said.

Read More on The Sun

The Bill stars unrecognisable as they reunite after 23 years

Amazon Prime viewers receive a free upgrade – it’ll boost your telly instantly

Since he built his truck himself, Pankey said he knows where everything is and how to fix something when things go awry.

"That's the big difference between buying somebody else's creation and building your own."

Source: Read Full Article