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Malibu 'Wing House' made of 747 plane parts

May 17, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Southern California is no stranger to unusual, oddball, even eye-opening homes. But the 747 Wing House in Malibu is taking architecture to new heights.

"I'm standing under the tail stabilizers, so I live under wings," says the house's owner Francie Rehwald. The wings are from a 747 jet.

"It's turned out to be very feminine, very sleek, very curvaceous," says Rehwald.

It may be the ultimate "crash pad" now, but building the dream home was more like a long-haul flight.

Let's rewind to 2006 when Eyewitness News first met Rehwald at an airplane graveyard in the Mojave Desert.

"But this is approximately the roof section of where the kitchen will be," said Rehwald at the time. "I'll be cooking and looking out my window at the Oxnard lights and the Channel Islands."

Rehwald met with her architect on the wing of her future home.

Three-hundred-fity tons of scrap metal, a junked 747 was re-imagined as a house high atop a mountain in Malibu.

"As you can see the scale is massive," says the architect, David Hertz. "Each wing is 110 feet long, 47 feet wide."

Hertz used each of the wings to create the roofs for Rehwald's main and guest house.

Rehwald's new home was 28th off the assembly line at Boeing.

She bought the stripped-down 747 for $30,000, charging it to her credit card in order to rack up airline miles.

But how do you move a 747 from the Mojave to Malibu?

First it took a blow-torch, then... a police escort.

"We had to close three major freeways," says Hertz.

They also used a Chinook helicopter capable of lifting wing halves that tipped the scales at 10,000 pounds.

"It's certainly unusual to see wings being flown over Malibu and dropped into place," says Hertz.

The site itself is historic: It was once owned by the late, acclaimed designer Tony Duquette. His eccentric enclave is scattered with pagodas and pavilions. It burned to the ground in the 1993 Green Meadow Malibu wildfire.

"I've waited five years while I've been building this," says Rehwald. "It is thrilling, it is deeply satisfying."

"One thing you can't fully realize until you live here is the light and the way light and shadow and sun enters the house," says Hertz. "It really becomes a living sculpture."

And it's recycling on a super-jumbo scale.

Their goal was to re-use as many of the plane's 4.5 million pieces and parts as possible.

"And so we looked at the airplane much like a Native-American Indian might look at a buffalo, in that we should consume all the pieces of that plane," says Hertz.

Cabin windows get a second life.

"It makes a great window," says Rehwald.

The engine cowling is soon to be a fountain.

"The water will spill over the edge," says Hertz.

Even the wing's landing lights are being put to good use.

"There's no mistaking that it's a wing," says Rehwald.

"It's a huge leap of faith into the unknown," says Hertz.

"A wing and a prayer, David," says Rehwald.

Two wings a prayer and a dream that really took off.

"I'll have the rest of my life here," says Rehwald.


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