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Remembering a jumbo jet’s “chaotic” day on the M5 Bath City News

A year ago, around this time, the Southwest held its breath when local entrepreneur Johnny Palmer took on his biggest challenge yet. The owner of Warleigh Weir had the crazy idea of ​​driving a Boeing 727 on the M5 motorway – and pulled it off.

People from Gloucestershire, Somerset and Bristol turned out in droves to watch the show unfold. It was quite an event and all so that Mr Palmer could have a genuine office for his Brislington company, Pytch.

The whole drama was “utter chaos”, but a valid publicity stunt that left “Johnny Palmer’s” name on everyone’s lips that day. For a mere £100,000 it now has one of the most unique conference rooms in the world.

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The tech entrepreneur discovered the 1970s private jet in an “aircraft graveyard” in the Cotswolds and decided to “upcycle” it into an office. The aircraft was built in 1968 and used by Japan Airlines before becoming privately owned in the mid-1970s.

New, it would have cost £40m but (as it lacked wings and an engine) Johnny got a £100,000 deal. After months of planning, on Saturday February 27, the wingless, tailless fuselage was strapped to a truck and driven onto the M4, M5 and M32 from Kemble.

Johnny, then 38, said: “It was absolute chaos the whole thing! The trailer went through a chasm in the tarmac and we got stuck at some bends and junctions.

“There were tough times. Like when the police refused us to take the intended route, when it scraped under a motorway overpass and when the emergency services had to pass us.”

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A TV show, streamed live on YouTube, followed the jet’s progress from start to finish. Meanwhile, hordes of people who wanted to see him in person made their way along the road.

The whole plan nearly derailed just 300 meters from its final destination when a parked van blocked the road. Yet even that was no challenge to Mr. Palmer, who dismissed it.

Johnny Palmer and the plane ready to travel (Image: Johnny Palmer)

Eventually, about seven hours after leaving Kemble, the Boeing 727 was settled into its final resting place at Palmer Business Park. The next day it was lifted into position by “two giant cranes” ready to be attached to the nose cone.

Johnny said: “To see it’s a real thing in the real world after working on it in CAD for months, it made me smile from ear to ear. When I finally saw it in place, I was blown away – it’s quite huge, especially since we put it on a structure that makes the plane over seven meters high.”

The jet would return to its 1970s glory without any trace of modern technology, the entrepreneur explained. During the lockdown, Pytch’s existing offices were used for broadcasting and green screen filming, so they needed a vibrant new place to work.

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This notice was published: 2022-04-02 23:00:00

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