Southwest pilot transforms airplane catering truck into mobile home in 7 months

  • A Southwest Airlines is living in a decommissioned catering truck
  • It took him seven months to transform it into a tiny mobile home
  • He bought the catering truck for $3,000

Published on Jun 19, 2024 at 7:39 PM (UTC+4)
by Amelia Jean Hershman-Jones

Last updated on Jun 20, 2024 at 12:59 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Daksh Chaudhary

A Southwest Airlines pilot has swapped the cockpit for a decommissioned airplane catering truck as he transformed it into a tiny mobile home.

He bought the catering truck for $3,000.

And the conversion took him just seven months from April 2020 to November.

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Where he got the airplane catering truck

Mark Pankey is a former US Air Force pilot from Louisiana, US.

After 20 years with the military, he retired and became a captain and commercial pilot.

Living in an apartment complex, he decided he was wasting money on rent.

He started living in his van and slept in airport parking lots when he wasn’t on the road – or in the sky – with plans to eventually build a house on a plot of land he owned.

However, when the pandemic hit and grounded flights, he decided he needed to rethink investing such a large sum.

“I had seen these box trucks at work, and I thought about how cool would it be to live in one of those, or to build one out,” he said.

“I was telling another pilot this, and sometime later he sent me a text saying that a whole bunch of them were being auctioned off in Seattle.”

Pankey bought a 20-year-old decommissioned Southwest Airlines catering truck for $3,300.

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How he converted it into a mobile home

He started converting it, using his Colorado apartment complex as a base.

He first cleared out the shelves before adding a slope to its flat roof, extending it by an extra two feet.

This made it taller, allowed him to collect rainwater, and meant that solar panels would be at angled towards the sun.

While originally made from fragile fiberglass, he covered the interior with spray foam insulation to keep it warm and soundproof.

When he had built most of the inside, he decided to paint its white exterior grey and added rivets to remind him of thee fighter planes he piloted in the Air Force.

While he had to remove the airline’s name and logo, it still retrains its original side banner.

“The snacks are on me,” the banner reads.

The hood of the truck features a spray-painted bird motif inspired by the car in the 1977 film, Smokey and the Bandit.

By November 2020 he was finished after spending between $30-50K , labeling his new home ‘SnakPak’.

While he never raises the scissor lift the full 5 m (17 ft), he boosts it by 1.5-1.8 m (5-6 ft) when parked to ensure it’s level with the front deck.

The box section of the truck is 4.3 m (14 ft) long.

With loft and storage cabinets one end, the middle section has a kitchen countertop.

Pankey sleeps on a queen-sized mattress in the loft, accessed via a telescopic ladder,

The other end of the box section holds the composting toilet and spacious, corner shower cubicle.

He uses wires and magnets to keep his belongings in place while driving.

Step outside and the deck is furnished with artificial turf, a small table, grill and stove, and an outdoor shower.

As well as harnessing solar power and collecting rain, the truck is equipped with a plug, allowing him to power up at campgrounds and RV parks.

After selling his Colorado land and apartment, Pankey has been living full-time in the converted aircraft catering truck for over three years, often using his Toyota Tacoma to tow it.

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# Tags - DIY, Mobile home, RV, truck


Amelia Jean Hershman-Jones

London-based Amelia cut her journalistic teeth covering all things lifestyle, wellness and luxury in the UK capital. Fast-forward a decade and the experienced content creator and editor has put pen to paper for glossy magazines, busy newsrooms and coveted brands. When her OOO is on you can find her spending quality time with her young family, in the gym or exploring the city she loves.