The plane in Bristol that's also an office (and meeting space, event venue, filming location, and micro-hotel!)
People are confused, bemused and intrigued by the story behind our beautiful bird! We get asked a lot about what PYTCHAir is, how it happened and how it ended up making its way to Skyline Park in Bristol. So to set things straight we wanted to share the PYTCHAir story here for aviation aficionados, curious individuals, would-be passengers and lovers of all things bizarre! We also hope this will inspire others to create upcycled, inspiring, sustainable spaces that bring people together and promote experimentation and business adventure.
What is #PYTCHAir?
PYTCHAir is a Boeing 727 airliner. A 727 is similar in size to a modern 737 (as flown by Ryanair) or an Airbus A320 (as flown by Easyjet). The 727 is distinctive due to its rear-mounted ‘trijet’ engine configuration. It is now the centrepiece of Skyline Park in Brislington, Bristol, UK.
What’s the history of the aircraft?
It originally flew in 1968 with Japan Airlines under registration JA8325 as a passenger airliner. Some time in the 1970s it was converted into a VIP private aircraft under registrations D-AHLQ, N4245S, CR-CBE, CR-CLM, CR-CMN and finally VP-CMN. In this time the aircraft had a colourful life and has been rumoured to have conducted secret trips for military purposes as well as having been the private jet for Middle-eastern royalty and a range of intriguing other owners.
After decades of reliable work the aircraft took its final flight in 2012 to Filton Airfield in Bristol, the home of the Brabazon and current home to Concorde 216 (registration G-BOAF). From here it was transported by road to Kemble Airfield (also known as Cotswold Airport) to be salvaged and for some elements to be repurposed. The fuselage, stub wings and landing gears were then re-attached after having been removed for transport. At Kemble it stayed, where it became a much-loved piece of aviation history by the then-owners.
How did it end up as PYTCHAir?
In 2018 PYTCH founder Johnny Palmer heard that there were dis-used aircraft at Kemble and, one summer weekend, arranged a trip to the airfield with kids and friends to see what was on offer. Used to curious visitors, the owners politely showed Palmer and friends around the aircraft, not expecting much more to come of it. In Johnny’s own words, the aircraft was ‘majestic’ and had an exquisite (albeit somewhat 70s kitsch and retro) interior fit out including dining room, salon, accommodation suite, kitchen, toilets, shower and original cockpit complete with all instruments. It was apparent that with a little vision this aircraft could be a useful addition to PYTCH HQ and become an amazing space for creativity, inspiration, communication, fine dining and fun. Realising that a credible plan was needed, Palmer swiftly began design work in order to submit a planning application to Bristol City Council. After months of debate, declined applications and community outreach the “PYTCH Air” project was granted full planning consent, allowing the project to progress. Negotiations were entered into and in mid-2020 PYTCHAir was purchased by Palmer's property investment company. In February 2021 the aircraft was finally transported from Cotswold Airport to Brislington - an exciting and chaotic journey that garnered global media coverage. The entire journey from Kemble to Brislington was broadcast live, and you can still watch it here!
What is the plan for PYTCH Air?
PYTCHAir is the centrepiece of the yard at Skyline Park BS4. Placed to appear as though “flying” on shipping containers painted to look like clouds, in 2022 the aircraft itself was painted by high-profile Bristol artists HazardOne, Hasan Kamil, and Curtis Hylton. Taking inspiration from the world of aviation, the tops of the shipping containers have been turned into a runway, and the rear air stairs open out onto a landing pad. From the start, the intention was to reinstate and connect as many of the avionics and other systems as possible. This includes cockpit lights, beacon lights, ventilation, and heating systems - this is an ongoing and seemingly never-ending challenge and one which the electronics engineers within the PYTCH community have all got stuck into!
How is PYTCHAir held in place?
The aircraft is sitting on ISO shipping containers. Designed to be stacked high, the corner posts of these containers can take considerable loads. However, PYTCHAir does not have attachment lugs for an ISO container, so custom mounts or ‘dollies’ have been fabricated in order to transfer the load of around 27,000 kg (or 27 metric tons!) from the aircraft into the containers. ‘Spreaders’ ensure the load is spread across multiple containers for as much capacity as possible. Additional struts and ties have been applied to ensure no further movement once the aircraft is in position. Overall the structure is vastly over-engineered to ensure considerable factors of safety. The first point of failure would be the containers sinking into the tarmac which is highly unlikely, but PYTCH engineers conduct regular checks just in case.
We needed more office space, but were concerned about the materials and resource use as well as carbon emissions from traditional construction. The aircraft was in ‘the right place at the right time’ and it felt poetic to upcycle and repurpose an icon of ostentatious hyper-consumption. We want to set an example of how business can have fun with their growth strategy - at PYTCH we want to keep our child-like enthusiasm and wonder for the world in which we live. The PYTCHAir project ties in with our values and vision to make the world a more exciting place whilst growing sustainably.
Can we rent PYTCHAir?
PYTCHAir is being used as a multi-purpose creative, collaboration, communication and enjoyment space. We will be using it for a range of purposes at PYTCH. If you have a use for PYTCHAir that is aligned with our values please get in touch and we would love to chat. If you are a client of PYTCH you may have already been onboard, and if not, now might be a good time to speak to us about supporting your communication, technical production and live experiences strategy.
Can PYTCHAir be used for location filming?
Depending upon the nature of the content being produced we are keen to see proposals from content producers who might be able to create their project using PYTCHAir.
Can I visit PYTCHAir?
We have an open day twice a year for the public to visit PYTCHAir. This is done for charity with visitors being asked to make a voluntary donation of £5. This cost is not compulsory and we invite those who wish to have a free day out to join in too. The charity who takes these donations will be voted for by people in our social media community. If you want your charity to be the beneficiary please get in touch.
Can I stay the night in PYTCHAir?
PYTCH Air has an extensive luxury accommodation suite. However it is not available for rent as a standalone accommodation solution. People who are using it as part of PYTCH projects are invited to utilise the space overnight when required.
How much did PYTCHAir cost?
New with its VVIP fitout and adjusted for inflation, PYTCHAir was a £50m+ aircraft. The lack of wings, engines and general state of airworthiness meant we got a slight discount from that price.
Content and Further Reading
The PYTCHAir Story is ever-developing but here is some content around the project:
PYTCHAir Facebook Group - for ongoing discussion
PYTCHAir YouTube Channel - recording all the steps in the project with a view to share the journey with others
Press Photos and Logo - feel free to use these in whatever manner you wish
Pictures - all the pictures of PYTCHAir from its early days through to the latest developments (note there are multiple folders here)
In The Press
Auto Evolution - 2 March 2021 - Here's a Cut-Up Boeing 727 Slowly Crawling Down the Motorway to Its New Home - autoevolution Somerset Live - 1 march 2021 - Boeing 727 owner describes 'chaos' of bringing plane down M5 - Somerset Live ITV - 1 March 2021 - Boeing 727 travels down M4, M5 and M32 to Bristol to be turned into office space | ITV News West Country Express - 1 March 2021 - Plane on M5: Watch as huge Boeing 727 aeroplane travels down UK motorway | UK | News | Express.co.uk Metro - 1 March 2021 - Boeing 727 taken for a drive down the M5 to Bristol | Metro News Conference News - 1 March 2021 - https://www.conference-news.co.uk/features/pytchair-unique-venue-your-next-event Bristol 247 - 1 March - https://www.bristol247.com/news-and-features/news/boeing-727-fuselage-lands-in-brislington/ Daily Mail - 28 February 2021 - https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9309567/Old-Boeing-727-crawls-motorway-entrepreneur-snaps-jet-use-new-offices.html The Mirror - 28 February 2021 - Boeing plane stops traffic as it's driven on motorway with police escort to new home - Mirror Online Gloucestershire Live - 28 February - https://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk/news/regional-news/live-plane-travels-down-m5-5052488 Bristol Live - 28 February - Watch as huge plane travels down the M5 into Bristol Bristol Live - 28 February - The day a Boeing 727 travelled down the M5 to Bristol - all we know BBC - 27 February - Bristol motorway journey for huge Boeing jet - BBC News Bristol Live - 27 February - In pictures: Private jet carried along motorway to Bristol Yahoo Movies - 27 February 2021 - Traffic queues and police escort as Boeing 727 takes to the roads in UK Somerset Live - 27 February - https://www.somersetlive.co.uk/news/somerset-news/day-boeing-727-driven-down-5054552.amp The Sun - 27 February - https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/14184565/boeing-plane-locals-motorway/ Swindon Advertiser - 27 February - Delays as Boeing 727 taken from Kemble to Bristol | Stroud News and Journal ITV News - 26 February 2021 - Warning of M4, M5 and M32 traffic delays as Boeing plane to be transported from Gloucestershire to Bristol | ITV News West Country Simple Flying - 26 February 2021 - https://simpleflying.com/johnny-palmer-727-motorway-move/ Somerset Live - 25 February 2021 - Boeing 727 to travel along M5, M4 and M32 to Somerset border Conference News - 24 February 2021 - PYTCHAir: a unique venue for your next event | Conference News Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard - 17 February 2021 - PYTCHAir is on the lorry, ready to fly down the motorway | Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard - 15 February 2021 - Boeing 727 to become office space for Pytch | Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard Gloucestershire Live - 12 February - Corsair Boeing 727 will hit M5 on journey from Cotswolds to Bristol - Gloucestershire Live Bristol Live - 12 February - Corsair Boeing 727 will hit M5 on journey from Cotswolds to Bristol Business Live - 12 February 2021 - Boeing 727 to travel down M5 and M4 from Cotswold Airport to Bristol - Business Live Simply Flying - 12 February 2021 - https://simpleflying.com/boeing-727-motorway-transport/ Fresh Aviation - 10 February 2021 - https://www.freshaviation.co.uk/bristol-entrepreneur-purchases-boeing-727-from-cotswold-airport-for-office-expansion/ ITV - 29 January 2021 - https://www.itv.com/news/westcountry/2021-01-29/boeing-727-stuck-in-the-mud-at-cotswold-airport Simply Flying - 29 January 2021 - https://simpleflying.com/japan-airlines-boeing-727-office-delay/ Bristol Live - 29 January 2021 - https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/boeing-727-due-leave-cotswold-4939137 Gloucestershire Live - 28 January 2021 - Former private jet to become unique office and meetings space Bristol Live - 27 November 2020 - When Boeing 727 plane will be brought to Bristol from Cotswold Airport down M4 and M32 - Bristol Live Gloucestershire Live - 27 November 2020 - https://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk/news/cheltenham-news/boeing-747-leave-cotswold-airport-4744212 Bristol 24/4 4 November 2020 - Former private jet to become unique office and meetings space Simple Flying - 3 November 2020 - https://simpleflying.com/japan-airlines-boeing-727-bristol-office/ Bristol Live - 2 November 2020 - Boeing 727 at Cotswold Airport to be brought down M4 and M32 to Bristol - and turned into office space - Bristol Live Business Leader - 1 November 2020 - https://www.businessleader.co.uk/why-is-a-50m-private-jet-set-to-land-at-a-brislington-trading-estate/101813/
We are delighted to share more about this story and invite journalists, novelists, storytellers, or collaborators to get in touch. Anyone interested in PYTCH Air please email your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org For interviews the swiftest way to comment is to send over questions and PYTCHAir's owner Johnny Palmer will answer questions with a recording response with audio and video of sufficient quality for radio or TV. Live or in-person interviews are also available upon request.