In 1938 billionaire Howard Hughes shattered the around-the-world flight record in a twin-engined Lockheed Super Electra. In an attempt to break his own record he bought a Boeing 307 Stratoliner. The 307 was world’s first commercial pressurized aircraft, a variant of the B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. Hughes prepared the 307 with extra fuel tanks. The project came to a end with the outbreak World War II, for that reason the production of the 307 also came to a hold. Only ten where made.
The government tried to obtain the aircraft for military purposes but Hughes denied he had it and kept hidden in parts. In 1948 Hughes commissioned Raymond Loewy, to rebuild the interior. Actress Rita Hayworth gave some tips. The billionaire invested a quarter of a million dollars changing the 307’s interior into one that included a master bedroom, two bathrooms, a galley, living room and stand-up bar. Behind the bar three windows cut out bar so that Hayworth could look out of the “Flying Penthouse” when they were flying. In 1949 the plane was sold to oil-baron Glenn McCarthy and in 1962 to Florida Jet Research.
Hurricane Cleo ended in 1964 the flying days of the 307: damaging it’s wing and tail. It became abandoned and stripped of it’s useful parts. Ready for scrap heap is was rescued by pilot Kenneth W. London in 1969. He cut of tail and the wings and spent five years to turn it into a motor yacht. In 1974 it was launched as the Londonaire. The plane-boat had twin V-8 which are linked to the original aircraft cockpit controls. In 1981 the converted 307 was bought by Jimmy Drimmer who made it a better floater and renamed it Cosmic Muffin.
Kenneth W. London
Londonaire (1974), renamed by new owner Dave Drimmer into Cosmic Muffin (1981)
Boeing 307 Stratoliner (1938) fuselage and fiberglass/wood boat hull
Isle of Venice, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA
http://www.airportjournals.com/Photos/0305/X/0305005_9.jpg (picture – the current owner Dave Drimmer pilots a boat next to his Boeing 307 plane boat, at home at the Isle of Venice in Fort Lauderdale.)