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For an AvGeek, the saddest part of any flight is knowing that it’s over. But thanks to ingenious designers, architects and plane lovers, you can keep an aircraft with you forever after you walk away. These gifts, ranging from quarter-sized to sprawling, are sure to send the flight fanatics in your life over the moon. In other words, these aircraft recycled into immortality come with a guarantee of zero turbulence. Here are eight gift ideas for the AvGeeks in your life.
1. Bags Made From Airplane Seats
You’ve let those workhorses carry you hundreds of thousands of miles, so why not give them a break and take a turn carrying them instead? Made from reused airplane seats, these bags will let you reach meta levels of depth when the flight attendants ask you to stow your carry-on items made of airplane seats under the seat in front of you, which is also made of airplane seat. Mind-blowing, right?
Consider the Looptworks weekender carry-on duffel made from an Alaska Airlines leather seat cover, which you can imagine once provided comfort to the derriere of a Ketchikan salmon fisherman in its former life. (Buy: looptworks.com, $260.) Or, if you prefer a little more color, try a quilted messenger bag made from blue airplane-seat fabric with vertical red, yellow and orange stripes. Barf stains not included. (Buy: planeindustries.com, £300, about $400.)
2. A Passport Wallet Made From a Southwest Seat Cover
Your important papers need a worthy carrier as well, don’t they? Looptworks turned leather seat covers from Southwest Airlines into passport wallets with a classic blue-and-tan color scheme. Each is hand-numbered and has developed its own textural personality, thanks to years in service. (Buy: looptworks, $140.)
3. Tags Made From Airplane Skin
Dave Hall has been turning airplane parts into furniture and pieces of art for years in Southern California, but his latest claim to aviation fame is as the guy who’s taking the skin from retired airplanes and turning them into handsome aluminum tags with blueprint designs on them. In this way he’s honored aircraft from warplanes (like a P-51 Mustang and a Soviet-made MiG-21) to the first Boeing 747-400 that Richard Branson introduced to the Virgin Atlantic fleet, Lady Penelope.
“It’s like owning a piece of aviation history,” Hall said in a phone interview. “You literally have something that you can walk away from that you can hold and keep — and they’re just super cool.” (Buy: amazon.com, from $25 to $125.)
4. A Boeing 737 Cowling Chair
You can become one with a 737 in this gloriously glossy space-egg chair hatched from the engine cowling of a Boeing 737. It’s upholstered in leather, polished to a mirror shine, and spins on an aluminum base. The seat comes courtesy of Plane Industries (formerly Fallen Furniture), two British brothers who reclaim civilian and military aircraft. You’ll have to contact them for a quote on a cowling chair, but one sold in 2016 for £19,000 (about $25,000 today). (Buy: planeindustries, email for price.)
5. An Airplane Meal Trolley Turned Home Bar Cart
Those slim food-service trolleys that spew out rubbery chicken and clobber the knee of many an aisle-seat passenger can now supply gin rickeys to the people you know and love in your very own home, thanks to SkyArt, a Turkish design company that comes up with quirky aviation-themed accessories and furnishings. Their aluminum meal carts come refurbished and redesigned with adjustable shelving for bottles and glasses, a plastic bin at the bottom for ice and sundries, locking wheels, and (if you want it) customizable art. (Buy: skyart.com, email for price.)
6. Ceiling Lights Made From Rows of Airplane Windows
In France, Coudamy Architectures brightens up any boardroom meeting with hanging ceiling lights made from entire chunks of the interior of an Airbus A300 — two rows of curved window panels, to be specific. The F-Light is also modular, so the size of the lamp can be adjusted to fit nearly any room. Just be prepared for jokes about looking out the windows to see the Grand Canyon. (Buy: coudamyarchitectures.com, email for price.)
7. Basically Anything Made From Any Part of a Plane (Except the Brakes)
Aircraft engineer Stuart Abbott works at airports across England during the day and then goes home to his studio in Newcastle at night to take pieces of aircraft scrap and turn them into any number of things, from tables made from wings to living-room chairs from a Lufthansa A320 to the entire Spanish summer home he’s currently creating out of the cockpit, upper deck and parts of the fuselage of a former Pan Am Boeing 747. (Don’t worry, he’s got experience turning planes into houses: He also made a summer home for a client out of a Swiss Avro RJ100.) The only part of a plane Abbott won’t work with is the brakes.
“There’s some nasty things in aircraft brakes,” he said by phone.
Abbott’s creations are by commission. (Buy: stu-artaviationfurniture.co.uk, email for price.)
8. A Stay in a House in Malibu Made From a 747
Dominating 55 acres on the western edge of the Santa Monica Mountains with views to die for, the 747 Wing House was designed by found-object architect David Randall Hertz and completed in 2011, becoming an instant Southern California landmark. It’s made largely from a TWA Boeing 747-100, with wings and horizontal stabilizers for the roofs and nearly 5 million other pieces from the plane incorporated elsewhere. (Future projects include turning pieces of the fuselage into a barn and art studio, and using the cockpit windows as a skylight.)
You can stay in the 747 Wing House — with the groundskeeper, housekeeper and two cats thrown in for free — but there’s a catch: It’s available on ThirdHome, a service that matches owners of luxurious vacation homes and lets them swap spaces. So unless you have an equally tempting home to offer in trade, you may have to either make do with photos of the place or be prepared to pay through the nose. (Buy: thirdhome.com, email for availability and price.)
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