Welcome aboard ... Cosmic Muffin, the outboard-powered airplane
December 16 2003
not often you get to board a classic airliner, let alone one that has
been converted into a boat.
This is just going to be a casual recognition and celebration of 100 years of flight, said Dave Drimmer, the plane-boats owner, noting that Dec. 17 is the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers first powered flight.
The Cosmic Muffin, named by Margaritaville crooner Jimmy Buffett, has been a familiar sight around Fort Lauderdale since the early 1980s, when Drimmer bought it. At various times it has been moored off Bayview Drive and on the Middle River near East Sunrise Boulevard. Now it resides in the Las Olas Isles area.
During its days as an airplane, it was one of only 10 Stratoliners built. Boeing had to limit production of commercial airliners at the onset of World War II because of the need for military aircraft.
The Boeing 307 Stratoliner was the first four-engine transport to be pressurized. With 36 seats, it was wider and more comfortable than a 21-seat DC-3, said Eugene Banning, of Boca Raton, a former Pan Am pilot and an aviation historian.
Banning flew a Stratoliner that is going on a display at the new Smithsonian air museum near Washington, DC.
I only flew it once, he said. As I remember, it was pretty heavy on the controls. But it flew very easily and nicely.
While overseeing Trans World Airlines, Hughes pulled a 21-ton Stratoliner out of service for his own use, dubbing it The Flying Penthouse. It had a bar, bedroom and shower-equipped bathroom. After flying it about 500 hours, he sold it to a Texas millionaire.
In 1969, while the plane was abandoned at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, aviation enthusiast Kenneth London gave it new life as a boat, cutting off the wings and tail and fitting a hull around the fuselage.
Today, the 56-foot craft, once capable of cruising at 220 mph, putters along at a top speed of 15 mph. Through Drimmers company, Plane Boats Inc., it is available for dockside charters at $100 per hour.
is driven with the planes original controls, although Drimmer admits
he is not a pilot.
Ken Kaye can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-385-7911.