Little Trump



In 1994 Jo Ann Ussery found herself in the market for a new home. A huge storm in winter made huge trees loaded with ice, fall on her 1400 square foot wood-frame house, nearly flattening it. When she was looking for a mobile home, her brother-in-law Bob Farrow, an air traffic controller at Greenwood Airport, suggested she might look for a retired jetliner. After all, she didn’t live very far from the airport in Greenwood, where one of the premier aircraft salvage companies in the business regularly parted out airliners: the Memphis Group.

Here Ussery paid a visit, where Richard Cordle, the Greenwood facility manager, took her on a tour. Upon seeing the scrapped Continental Airlines 727, she responded, “I want it; how much?” It took several months to get the aircraft released. When it was available, she paid $2,000. Transportation cost another $4.000. To make it into her dream home another $24.000 were spent. Armed with a borrowed 9/16 wrench and a screwdriver from Cordle’s toolbox, she would periodically go back for various missing parts. Ussery was allowed to remove interior panels and other odds and ends she needed from other 727s being salvaged. Cordle still refers to her as “that gutsy little grandma.”

When the plane was set up, the tail was anchored in 18 inches of concrete. The nose extended out past the shoreline of the lake, giving the 727 home a dynamic look, as if it were flying, this can be seen on the picture. The 11-foot-wide cabin looks roomy with the high-density airline seats removed. The 76 side windows and 10 cockpit windows provide ample illumination. The floor plan consisted of three bedrooms, a living room/dining room, a fully equipped kitchen, a laundry area and her favorite room, the master bathroom with a Jacuzzi, in the part of the fuselage where once was the cockpit. The cockpit control wheels were retained to maintain an aircraft look.

Most of the interior remodelling was done by Ussery. Floors had to be built up in the bathroom and kitchen because they were uneven. Conventional padding and carpeting were installed, and linoleum was laid down in the kitchen. One original lavatory was kept functional as an aircraft lavatory. A garage door opener was used to open and close the rear air stairs. Overhead luggage compartments were retained, providing an abundance of storage space. Lighting was converted to house current.

Ussery named her dream house “Little Trump,” as reference to Donald Trump’s $16-million corporate jet, which happens to be a Boeing 727 as well. When asked why she lived in an airplane: “simply cost effective, once it was set up, it required no maintenance’. Repairing the roof of replacing rotten boards or having it eaten by termites are all out of the question. Living in a jetliner, to her grandchildren, makes her the coolest grandma on the planet.

Jo Ann Ussery

Little Trump (1994)

Boeing 727-200 (1968), Continental Airlines

Benoit, Lake Whittington, Mississippi, USA (1994 – 1999)

Sources: (picture made by Jo Ann Ussery), click on the picture to see more details.

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Toon Verberg