Home » How A Pilot Turned An Airport Catering Truck Into A Sky-High Mechanical Treehouse

How A Pilot Turned An Airport Catering Truck Into A Sky-High Mechanical Treehouse

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This weekend my YouTube recommends lit up with an RV conversion whose feasibility I’ve wondered about for years. You know those trucks with boxes on a scissor lift that fills your plane with snacks before takeoff? Some saw one of those and turned it into a tiny house and RV. The thing looks like a treehouse that you could take anywhere. Let’s take a look!

You know, every time I think I’ve seen the end of weird custom RV-type contraptions, I keep on getting surprised with more. Jason found an ice shack Chevy Cavalier thing that’s like what would happen if someone described an RV over the telephone. Now we’re going to take a look at something on some other end of the custom spectrum. A pilot has turned an airport catering truck into a tiny house, and this thing is pretty sweet!

 

This one comes to us from Tiny House Giant Journey on YouTube. On this channel, Tiny House enthusiast Jenna explores the coolest tiny houses that she can find. This time, she found a tiny house that really hits on two of my loves: flying and RVs. In the video, Southwest Airlines pilot Mark talks about his creation, an airport catering truck-turned-tiny house that he calls the “Snak Pak.”

Mark starts off by describing his history. He used to think life was all about making loads of money and buying stuff. Mark says that he was once a fighter pilot and a special operations pilot. Then he retired and started flying with Southwest. Telling his story, a relatable event triggered his change of pace. The pandemic hit, travel declined, and he was told that pilots weren’t needed at that time. Mark had long wanted to live in the box trucks that he had seen rolling around the airport, and he thought that it would be awesome to buy an old Southwest truck and live in it.

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Auction Listing

If you’ve ever wondered how much an airport catering truck sells for, well, Mark has the answer. Apparently, during the auction of this 2000 Ford F-650 provisioning truck, there was just one other bidder. Mark got it for $3,300, then spent an additional seven months and another $26,700 turning it into a cozy little home. At the time when Tiny House Giant Journey filmed the video, Mark said that he had been living in his truck for two years and a month.

Perhaps the coolest part is that the scissor lift still works, so it’s a home with a view practically anywhere!

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Tiny House Giant Journey

 

Mark’s truck home also comes with some decent specs. It measures in at 28.5-feet-long, it weighs 25,000 pounds, and it’s powered by a 5.9-liter Cummins straight-six turbodiesel. Paired with an Allison AT545 (an automatic also found in school buses), this engine is making 215 horsepower and 420 lb-ft torque. To illustrate how much this truck is basically a brick trying to cut through the wind, Mark says that it gets 5 miles to the gallon when towing his Toyota Tacoma, and 8 miles to the gallon when it’s on its own.

Continuing with the outside of the rig, Mark says that he painted the truck to look like a fighter jet and the doors even have his old callsign on them. On the edge of the box are silhouettes of the jets that he’s flown.

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Tiny House Giant Journey

 

Mark also explained this truck’s old life. When it was a catering (or provisioning) truck, it would drive up to the aircraft. Then, the scissor lift would raise the 14-foot box up to door level with the aircraft. The aircraft would then be supplied with the food and beverage items out of the box. In this truck, the jack system lifts the box up 17 feet.

Moving on to the tiny house part of the box, Mark says that it now sits at 10.5 feet tall on one side and 9 feet on the other. Underneath sits a 5-gallon tank. The shower can recycle water from this tank, or pull from the fresh tank. Water coming from the tank goes through UV light and filters.

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Tiny House Giant Journey

 

Also on the bottom of the tiny house unit is a 4500W generator and a hookup for shore power. Continuing his tour, Mark points out another tank, as well as an air-conditioning unit. More goodies come in the form of an arm that allows bike repairs, 1200W of solar, and even a security system.

Inside, Mark built a nice little home for himself. The highlights of the kitchen are a kerosene-powered cooktop and a German espresso machine.

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Tiny House Giant Journey

He says a lot of things are held in place with just magnets. Other things are held in with ropes. A radiant heating system helps in keeping the vehicle warm and Mark sleeps in a queen bed under a large skylight.

The electrical system is supported by 600Ah lithium batteries and other equipment includes 5G internet, as well as a ham radio with a 200-foot antenna. Apparently, the setup is good enough to hear people from other countries. In addition to all of that, there’s an indoor and outdoor shower, a composting toilet, and a fantastic patio. I get treehouse vibes from this build, and at least to me, that makes it even cooler.

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Tiny House Giant Journey

 

Overall, this is one of the coolest mobile living spaces I’ve seen in a while. It’s awesome that Mark is able to use his creation as both a home and an RV. And looking at Mark’s Instagram, he takes this vehicle just about everywhere. So this isn’t one of those builds that get cobbled together just for the pictures. I’d love to see more builds like this. There’s reusing old commercial vehicles like buses, and then there’s taking a specialized vehicle like an airport catering truck and doing something awesome with it.

If you want to see the adventures of a catering truck turned into a tiny house, check out snakpak20 on Instagram. And for more tiny houses, watch Tiny House Giant Journey on YouTube!

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22 Responses

  1. This is really cool! I would have tried to add side windows you can actually look out of from your high vantage point, though I can understand how that would reduce storage space and introduce a new possible place for leaks.

  2. The patio seals the deal for me. It must feel great to crack a cold one on the patio and look over all of the plebes at the RV park who aren’t 17 feet in the air

  3. I like that he kept the Southwest branding, but I would have replaced it with my own fictitious airline branding. The best I can currently come up with is “Derry Air” along with a photo of an airplane flying over some rolling hills that look like a butt.

  4. I have always wondered why box trucks and box trailers aren’t used to make RVs. A bus conversion is certainly cool, but box trailers are cheap and easy to maintain.

    Now THIS thing turns that up to 11.

    Bonus that you don’t have to lock up your food in bear country.

  5. I didn’t see any outriggers. I hope the scissor lift at least has a way to lock off and it’s not just help u[p with hydraulic pressure all night.

  6. Recycling shower water seems like an excellent idea for an RV. Usually shower water isn’t _that_ dirty (mostly just soapy) so with a little filtering it’s probably fine to reuse. It’s also a huge chunk of the fresh water usage normally so it could extend your ability to dry camp a lot.

    I would be a little concerned about surprise wind storms. It’s bad enough when you have your awning out, if it could tip over your entire rig that raises the stakes a bit more. 😉

  7. I feel like this thing needs outriggers. It only moves in one direction but that’s a lot of weight high up and a bunch of square feet to catch the wind. Maybe some could be salvaged from old construction machinery and made to work with a separate hydraulic pump so as not to strain the one keeping your house in the air.

  8. Well, this is novel. Cool concept-and I agree with others that the deck is, uh, the cherry on top.

    If I owned it, I’d have to paint on the underside of platform or bottom of a lifting arm; ‘So, I asked for a raise…’

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