Man Buys Luxury ’70s Jet With Checkered Past, Turns It Into Posh Airbnb With King Bed—Look Inside

Man Buys Luxury ’70s Jet With Checkered Past, Turns It Into Posh Airbnb With King Bed—Look Inside
JetStar II in Airbnb form. (Illustration by The Epoch Times, Courtesy of Apple Camping)
Michael Wing
Updated:
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The true story of how a Lockheed L-1329 went from ferrying members of a crime syndicate around North Africa to its eventual seizure could have made a probing Netflix miniseries about international drug smuggling.

Instead, Wales-based proprietor Jacob McCarthy, 28, acquired the ‘70s-era luxury private jet—which he claims had been owned by cartels—to be the swanky and dangerous cohort for his hotel park of aircraft-themed suites.

“We heard from the dealer about a jet that had just been reclaimed from North Africa after being sat for decades,” Mr. McCarthy told The Epoch Times. “After hearing the story of how it was seized from a cartel and organized crime group, the plane drew us in with its mysterious history.”

Lately, Instagram is awash with defunct airliners upcycled into tiny homes and Airbnbs. But unlike others, Mr. McCarthy, who runs Apple Camping in Tenby, Pembrokeshire, salvaged more than the bones of a starchy old economy airliner with his Lockheed L-1329, a.k.a. JetStar II.

Couched cozily in its new home in Wales, near a popular coastal destination with golden beaches and blue waters, the posh aircraft-turned-Airbnb conjures a shade-wearing, leisure-suited cast starring young Al Pacino.

The JetStar in Tenby, Pembrokeshire. (Courtesy of <a href="https://applecamping.co.uk/">Apple Camping</a>)
The JetStar in Tenby, Pembrokeshire. (Courtesy of Apple Camping)
Leather seats make for a comfy stay at JetStar. (Courtesy of <a href="https://applecamping.co.uk/">Apple Camping</a>)
Leather seats make for a comfy stay at JetStar. (Courtesy of Apple Camping)
JetStar is furnished with luxury amenities. (Courtesy of <a href="https://applecamping.co.uk/">Apple Camping</a>)
JetStar is furnished with luxury amenities. (Courtesy of Apple Camping)

“You’re transported,” Mr. McCarthy said, describing his underworld salvage “with the huge original leather seats and sofas, brass and walnut trim, and a beautiful beige suede lining.”

At the plane’s aft, beverages are served on the rocks at the original bar and serving area. There is an elegant lavatory. It might not match Tony Montana’s mansion in extravagance, but—hey, it’s an airplane.

But that’s not all it has, either.

“A few more steps and a secret door transports you into a large extension with [a] tropical flower wall, king-size luxury bed, and TV,” he said.

Sometimes a story about someone’s murky past is better left in the past, and that may be so for JetStar. Some things Mr. McCarthy would not divulge to us, such as how much he paid for it. But how it came to be an Airbnb had a lot to do with escapism, he said, wanting to “give people experiences they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access.”

A king-size bed rests at the aft of the plane. (Courtesy of <a href="https://applecamping.co.uk/">Apple Camping</a>)
A king-size bed rests at the aft of the plane. (Courtesy of Apple Camping)
The cockpit features an Xbox and monitor with flight games. (Courtesy of <a href="https://applecamping.co.uk/">Apple Camping</a>)
The cockpit features an Xbox and monitor with flight games. (Courtesy of Apple Camping)

By the time he found her, scavengers had already picked the engines out for recycling, and the wings had to come off because of transportation laws, but all the rest stayed the same.

“We’ve simply cut the tail off and added an extension to it with king-size bed and rear exit,” he said, admitting that the revitalization costs were around 50,000 pounds (around $65,000). “The plane has the original water closet facilities, bar, seating, tables, and yokes in the cockpit.”

It took his team weeks to transport the jet the hundreds of miles from North Africa to Wales, he said, mostly hauled via truck and escort.

A video shows off the JetStar experience. (Courtesy of Apple Camping)
A view of the cockpit before bidding farewell. (Courtesy of <a href="https://applecamping.co.uk/">Apple Camping</a>)
A view of the cockpit before bidding farewell. (Courtesy of Apple Camping)

“Our logistics team did an amazing job of getting the plane here safely before we had to crane the whole jet over multiple other units we have and into place,” he said. “The jet opened just before the outbreak of COVID.”

Mr. McCarthy said they have been inundated with bookings for the summer, and people from all walks of life have flocked to stay at JetStar as they are fascinated by its riveting backstory. With three beds for four guests, a stay of one night costs 199 pounds ($250).

In parting, he conjures a scene from “Goodfellas” (Joe Pesci and the boys playing cards in a smoky hideout): “The coolest thing has to be sitting back in the fuselage’s main area, sat back in the comfy chairs, cocktail in hand from the bar and chatting with friends. It really is an escape!”

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