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Old 05-21-2006, 02:37 AM   #1
New Member
1978 31' Excella 500
Union , Washington
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 2
Angry Fooled Again

Howdy, y'all.

I'm sorry to start out with such a negative post, but my Airstream experience did not begin well.

Lat summer my wife Alice Ann annnounced that she had purchased a used airplane as a means of experiencing a wonderful world of travel adventures. I was so excited. It was a dream come true, answer to my prayers, etc.

I asked her to describe it. She said it was of aluminum construction, structurally strong yet lightweight, and was of 1978 vintage. I asked her how long since the engine had had a major overhaul; she replied that it had no engine. That was great news- a sailplane! No need to buy fuel.

My wife looked a bit confused. She informed me that it was not an airplane at all, but a travel trailer. An Airstream, as a matter of fact. Actually, she said, "Frank, you imbecile, it's an Airstream, not an airplane!"

Well, you can imagine my disappointment.

For months I researched a method to convert an Airstream into an airplane. A Web search yielded very little information along these lines. None, actually. After a while it became apparent that it would be too time-consuming, and would probably require special tools and a lot of time.

So my wife and I have been fixing it up (and down) and will leave Victoria, TX next week, bound for Union, Wa. We'll live in it while our new home is being built; afterwards we'll travel with it and have many grand adventures.

It is a 1978 31' Excella 500 rear bath. We will tow it behind a redneck diesel pickup. The Airstream is named Toad, because that is what it will be once we hitch it up and hit the road.

From y'all's posts it seems that Airstreams can be quite nice when used as travel trailers.

Alice Ann and I look forward to seeing y'all down the road and in the forums.
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Old 05-21-2006, 04:44 AM   #2
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1954 26' Romany Cruiser
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Welcome ! Funny story, sounds like you fit right in with the Aluminuts
'74 Overlander (T-O-Bee)
'46 Spartan Manor (Rosie)
'54 Cruiser (Bogart)
'60 Overlander (Hoagy)
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Old 05-21-2006, 07:25 AM   #3
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1963 30' Sovereign
Des Ruisseaux , Quebec
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 37
It's a bird, it's a, it's an airstream!!!!

Well this may not be a dream come true but surely a fun experience(when you look back, hehe!). Happy travels to Washington.
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Old 05-21-2006, 09:42 AM   #4
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1978 31' Excella 500
Palm Bay , Florida
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 269
Images: 34

Welcome to the forums. I can understand your plight. Take comfort in the fact that the aerodynamic shape of the Airstream allows you to "fly low" if you are so inclined. I recommend keeping it under 70mph, though. With your redneck TV (tow vehicle) you can provide all the thrust you need. While you will get a little lift from the shape of the trailer, it has a very low drag coefficient. Thus you will hardly know it is behind you. My V-10 Excursion doesn't even breath hard pulling our 1978 Excella 500 with the rear double and "L" shaped lounge.

While you can't do loops and (hopefully) spins, you can fly straight and level, climb and descend with ease. Make all turns wide and well coordinated. You have the added advantage of being able to RON (remain over night) virtually anywhere you wish without having to find a 4000 foot straight hardsurfaced runway. Landings are simple as are the takeoffs. Be sure to have a checklist handy to ensure that you are clear and ready for travel.

Good luck and "keep'em flyin'"

Vic Smith
Director Florida State Rally
WBCCI Florida Unit 027 Trustee
WBCCI #6782
31' 78 Airstream Excella 500
2001 Ford Excursion V-10
Reese hitch and dual cam sway control
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Old 05-21-2006, 10:40 AM   #5
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1977 23' Safari
2014 25' Flying Cloud
Palmer Lake , Colorado
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If McDonnell was still an independent airplane company, you could take it to them. Their moto was, "Anything will fly with enough thrust." The F-4 was proof of that.
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Old 05-21-2006, 02:31 PM   #6
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1964 22' Safari
Eagle River , Alaska
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 251

If you bend the right ventricle on the Left-hand Ring Laser Inertial Navigation Device (LRLIND) 17.3 degrees to the left you can get 12.7% more thrust from the Plutonium
PU-238 Space Demodulator (PSD).

Then polish the reciprocating grease fan blade to a 4-6 microfinish.

Next, install a modified G3A-1 Gyro-Cosmic Relativator (GSR) and Ultrasonic High Speed Rocket Dampener (UHSRD) and Voila!

Flying Airstream...with the glide slope of a rock!

I ordered the Gyro-Cosmic Relativator and was told they’re on backorder until April 2316.
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Old 05-21-2006, 03:04 PM   #7
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2003 25' Safari
Kissimmee , Florida
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In my experience most Airstreams fly lower (AGL) than airplanes, and the Vne is slower, however the fuel consumption is similar.

The solution to your problem is to have both an Airstream and an airplane. A side benefit would be a hangar in which to store both.
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Old 05-21-2006, 10:50 PM   #8
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1978 31' Excella 500
Union , Washington
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 2
Smile Reason to Live

Howdy, y'all.

Thanks so much for the fun feedback. What an entertaining assortment of responses! You have provided ample info to rationalize away any misgivings concerning being bound to the ground.

And Vic, if you're reading this you may recall graciously sending me a CD with Excella manuals a couple of weeks ago. Thanks again. FYI, and for everyone's I, I converted the jpg files to PDF format. The 1978 31' Excella 500 service manual is a PDF file that can be viewed with Adobe Acrobat Reader, and easily printed. I'll be happy to send a CD to anyone who wants one, although it will be about 10 days from now before I can mail them.

Thanks again to everyone for the warm welcome.

Official signature under construction.
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Old 05-22-2006, 12:51 AM   #9
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1992 34' Limited
Falls Church , Virginia
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 945
Near miss!


Welcome to the AS Forums! Welcome also, to your lovely wife, whom allowed you to make the aquaintance of the AS family. EXCELLENT CHOICE!

Should you come to your 'senses' in the future and join the even more exclusive 34'er club, then I would gladly give you the most hearty 'Big Boy Toy Welcome' in addition to the one you have already garnered.

In all seriousness, ALL the best to you and yours! And welcome!!!

Enjoy that AirStream and all the fun it will bring you!!!!!!!!!!!!


'92 34' Classic Limited
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Old 05-22-2006, 07:23 AM   #10
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1994 30' Excella
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Milwaukee , Wisconsin
Join Date: May 2004
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Welcome to the forums. Hope you get to fly out to the mid-west some day. Have many happy years of camping fun.
Chaplain Kent
Forest River Forester 2501TS
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