Southwest Airlines Pilot Transforms Truck into Surprising Cozy Dwelling
From soaring through the skies to cruising on the ground, a Southwest Airlines pilot has transformed an airplane catering truck into a tiny mobile home!
With a price tag of $3,300 and seven months of hard work, this pilot created a unique living space that is sure to spin heads. Let’s peek at this mind-blowing transformation and see how this flight expert took tiny home living to new heights!
Meet Mark Pankey: The High-Flying Pilot Who Calls a Catering Truck Home
Pankey is not your average pilot. This former US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and current Southwest Airlines pilot proves that adventure knows no bounds.
His love for van life began when he started at Southwest Airlines. Drained by expensive hotels and long commutes, he bought a van and turned it into a cozy mobile home. He kept the van in airport parking lots and lived in it, saving himself money and enjoying the freedom of life on the road.
From Pilot to Nomad: How COVID-19 Sparked a Thrilling Lifestyle Change
When the pandemic hit, life changed for Pankey. As the aviation industry creaked to a halt, he took it as a sign to review his priorities. With partial pay and a newfound adventure sense, he decided to pursue a more thrilling lifestyle.
“COVID-19 verified that the world can shut down unexpectedly. So, why go into debt for a big old house?” Pankey said. After seeing some box trucks at work and being tipped by a fellow pilot about a Seattle auction, Pankey knew it was meant to be. Now, he has transformed a box truck into his nomadic paradise.
From Auction to Adventure: Pankey Scores a Deal
According to sources, Pankey purchased the truck for just $3,300. What’s more? The vehicle comes with a scissors lift, which raises the box-shaped cargo space on its back until it is level with the plane.
This is not your average truck, as items, including food and beverages, can easily be packed onto the aircraft. According to Pankey, the truck is about 20 years old, as it spent a lot of time in Las Vegas before moving to Seattle.
From Flat to Fabulous: How Pankey Revamped His Truck’s Roof for Rainwater Collection
When Pankey started his truck’s renovation, one of the first things he did was rebuild the roof. He ditched the flat fiberglass top and created a new slanted one with a metal beam frame that extended two extra feet on one side.
The new roof provided more headroom and allowed the collection of rainwater on one side. Plus, having a slope made it easier to install solar panels turned towards the sun. With this upgrade, Pankey’s truck became a stylish oasis on wheels.
From Loud to Soundproof: Pankey's Top-Notch Insulation Project
Pankey breathed a sigh of relief after spending a week coating his truck’s interior with spray foam insulation. The insulation didn’t only provide warmth; it also worked wonders for soundproofing.
With power tools running inside, the truck stayed whisper-quiet from the outside. One of Pankey’s neighbors was stunned by the difference, even using it as a recording studio for loud music sessions.
DIY Maverick's Tiny Home Amazes Neighbors
In the heart of Colorado, Pankey turned heads and gained fans when building his home from scratch. Despite some initial skepticism from neighbors, his DIY skills quickly became the talk of the town.
Pankey crafted every inch of the home with his hands, from floors and walls to the kitchen cabinets. The community couldn’t get enough—neighbors stopped by daily to watch his progress and even take a ride in the finished product.
From White Truck to Flying Fortress
Pankey didn’t settle for a boring white exterior on his truck. Instead, he added his touch and painted it gray, reminiscent of the fighter planes he used to fly in the Air Force.
Taking the plane theme even further, he spray-painted rivets all over the truck and added a bird symbol on the hood inspired by the classic car from “Smokey and the Bandit.” The result? A truck that’s truly one of a kind.
Inside the Epic Renovation of Pankey’s SnakPak
For about seven months, Mark Pankey transformed an old aircraft catering truck into a stunning tiny home, complete with a scissor lift and a side banner reading “The snacks are on me.”
Dubbed “SnakPak,” he estimates the entire project cost between $30,000 to $35,000, including the truck’s purchase. Despite removing Southwest Airlines’ branding from the vehicle, Pankey kept the original banner as a cheeky nod to his airline catering past.
Soaring High: A Peek at the Unique Features of Pankey’s Home on Wheels
Pankey’s tiny home comes equipped with a functional 17-foot scissor lift, providing clear views of his surroundings. However, Pankey always raises the scissor lift to a more practical height of five to six feet to level with the front dock.
Elevation has challenges, as Pankey admits to almost walking off the edge at times. To prevent mishaps, he hangs an orange lanyard flag with “Remove before flight” to remind him to watch his steps.
The Ultimate Small-Space Solution: Pankey's Home Loft and Smart Storage
Who says small spaces can’t be chic and functional? In Pankey’s truck, the 14-foot-long box section is now a cozy living space with a loft that fits a queen-sized mattress.
The loft is just the beginning—the middle section houses a practical kitchen countertop, while some storage cabinets provide space for Pankey’s essentials. But the loft has its challenges too. With a foldable telescoping ladder, going up and down requires careful maneuvering.
Pankey's Home on Wheels: A Grand Retreat with a Surprising Twist
Every inch counts for tiny living, and Pankey has made the most of his space. The other end of his truck is a box section with a composting toilet and an elegant corner-style shower made from tempered glass.
Unlike many RVs with shower cubicles, Pankey opted for a full-size in-home shower, and it’s surprisingly sturdy even while he’s on the move!
Magnetic Marvels and Cord Control
Living on the road can be bumpy, but Pankey found a way to keep his things intact with a mix of magnets and wires. He glued magnets to his kitchenware base to ensure they stayed on the shelves, regardless of how rough the journey got.
For larger items like jars and containers, he uses heavy-duty cords strung across the shelf to prevent them from falling out. Talk about clever storage solutions!
A Sustainable Oasis on the Go
Pankey’s truck is more than just functional; the back features an outdoor shower head and a mini platform, perfect for enjoying the amazing outdoors. And let’s not forget those beautiful logs covering the back—pure aesthetic bliss!
Pankey’s resourceful nature led him to source those logs from an old timber mill on his way to Home Depot. That’s what you’d call turning trash into treasure!
Off-the-Grid Adventure: Pankey's Sustainable Lifestyle
Pankey’s living situation not only saves him money but also helps the environment. His electricity comes from solar panels, while his water supply is a mix of rainwater and refills at truck stops.
Even when it’s not raining, he has a water bladder that never runs out. When he’s on the move, he can always rely on campgrounds and RV parks to hook up utilities.
Pankey's Journey to Tiny Living
With his trusty Toyota Tacoma pickup in tow, Pankey effortlessly runs errands around town. The best part? Adapting to the small space was a breeze, thanks to his previous experience living in a van.
But let’s be real; such a drastic lifestyle change can be nerve-racking. Pankey admits feeling anxious initially, but he was determined to make it work and have fun.
Lessons from Pankey's Tiny Home: Tips to Build Your Mobile Abode
“Should it be a van or something bigger? Will it be full-time? These are some questions you should ask yourself,” Pankey said. According to him, smaller RVs are not flexible for an additional vehicle for errands. This means you can lose your camping spot when out and about.
By building his truck, he knows where everything is and how to fix it when something goes wrong. So if you want to take on the challenge, you must consider your lifestyle and capabilities. Remember: the sky’s the limit when pursuing your dreams, regardless of how strange they may seem!