Boeing 307 Stratoliner
The Boeing 307 Stratoliner built in the late 1930s was the first commercial airliner preassurized to fly above the weather (20,000 feet). Only 10 were produced and these flew with few operatorsamong them Howard Hughes's Trans World Airlines. Hughes acquired his personal Boeing 307 Stratoliner in 1939. In 1948 Raymond Loewy was commissioned to convert the interior of Hughes's aircraft into an executive office. In March 1949, Hughes sold his office on wings to Houston oil man Glenn McCarthy, the inspiration for the character Jett Rink in the 1956 movie Giant. McCarthy in turn sold the Stratoliner, which he called The Shamrock, in 1962 to Florida Jet Research in Fort Lauderdale. In 1964 Hurricane Cleo clobbered Fort Lauderdale and the Stratoliner, then called The Flying Penthouse sustained severe tail and landing gear damage. Fort Lauderdale realtor and pilot Kenneth W. London attempted to restore the aircraft after purchasing it in 1969.
Regrettably, the aircraft was too damaged to become airworthy again, so London converted it into a motoring yacht. In June 1974 the completed floating aircraft, nicknamed The Londonaire graced the waterways of South Florida. In 1981, David Drimmer purchased The Londonaire to be used as his own personal houseboat. Jimmy Buffett was so struck by the uniqueness of this vessel that he featured it in his 1992 novel, Where Is Joe Merchant? as the Cosmic Muffin. Drimmer renamed his unique vehicle in a tribute to its newly acquired literary status.
The last 307 Stratoliner, the Clipper Flying Cloud, has been fully restored and is on exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. See original at www.theavanti.com/LoewyHughes.html.
Raymond Loewy designed and built the interior of the Boeing 307 Stratoliner aircraft for Howard Hughes in 1948. Actress Rita Hatworth provided some of the key decor elements. Bill Amantia is the owner of the Avanti that appears with the Cosmic Muffin in Issue 129 of Avanti Magazine. Back issues can be ordered from Mike Barany at 602-712-7670 (days), 623-825-7144 (evenings) or e-mail at email@example.com.