The Eagle has landed!

Arriving from the boneyard.

Back in April I bought an actual aircraft cockpit from a boneyard located in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. It took that long to coordinate the transport of the this 3000 pound behemoth, the front 12 feet (minus the radome) of a Boeing 737-322 that came off the assembly line in August 1988, just after I graduated from college. This thing has probably seen quite a bit more of the country than I have, most recently on the back of a flatbed trailer.

I bet it never had this attitude back when it was working for United!

My new baby arrived last Wednesday evening. With a rented telescopic forklift in hand, two buddies and I used web straps to lift it up in the air to set it on its back. It was fairly dramatic watching it rain water (it’s been outside for several months at the boneyard), fasteners, and various items including an Starbucks cup. There was plenty of structure inside to pick this up with the forklift. We just needed two web straps, ¬†one through the eyebrow windows and the other through the nose gear well, to get it safely into the air.

No glass cockpit out of the box. This one is going to need some modification. Oh, and some cleaning, too.

I already have a pretty sweet setup based on gear from Northern Flight Sim, but I really wanted a full back wall, including the structures holding the circuit breaker panels and cockpit door. This cockpit seemed like a good deal when it came along, but when I later started actually talking to people who had done this before it was apparent that it probably could have been done for even cheaper.

The seller offered to include ‘cutting’ in the price, and I returned the pictures he sent with very specific lines drawn as to where I wanted my cuts. Compared to others who buy this sort of thing for home use, I wanted relatively few cuts, because I wanted to make sure that all the flight control stuff underneath the floor was properly preserved. I also had delusions that I recover some of the cost by taking the leftover aluminum to the scrap dealer.

After the first six hours of cutting. It may not look like we made much progress, but its an important first step towards shaving about four feet off the bottom. We managed to remove a large piece from the very front which allows better access to all the ribs moving aft.

Had the seller actually performed the cuts I wanted, this thing might have actually fit under the door of my hangar. Unfortunately the cockpit arrived in its original condition, with no cuts at all. Some scrambling that evening led to its storage in a secure, undisclosed location, where I am now in the process of cutting about 4 feet off the bottom. All I have to say is, Boeing sure makes a sturdy airplane!