Continental Airlines’ first Boeing 727-224, serial number 19510, made its maiden flight on May 11, 1968. It was registered N88701 and delivered to the airline on May 21, 1968.
The airline operated it until Sept. 20, 1993, when it was stored at Sherman, Texas, before being flown to the Memphis Group in Greenwood, Miss., to be parted in May 1994. Later that year, Joanne Ussery, a 52-year-old hair stylist from Benoit, Miss., found herself looking for a new home.
She looked for a new mobile home, until Bob Farrow, her brother-in-law, an air traffic controller at Greenwood Airport, suggested she look into getting a retired jetliner. She didn’t live very far from the airport in Greenwood, where aircraft salvage companies regularly parted out airliners. Ussery visited the Memphis Group, where Greenwood facility manager, took her on a tour. Upon seeing the scrapped Continental Airlines 727, she responded, “I want it! How much?”
It took some time to get the airplane released. When it was available, she paid $2,000 for it, and hired the Bo Branch House Moving Company to transport her new 127-foot-long airplane, 69 miles to her lakeside plot in Benoit. The move was in December 1994, at a cost of $4,000 and it took two days to complete. Four months and $24,000 were spent turning the 727 into her home.
Ussery did most of the remodeling herself. One original lavatory was kept functional as an aircraft lavatory. Cockpit control wheels were retained to maintain an aircraft look. A garage door opener was used to open and close the rear stairs. The floor plan consisted of three bedrooms, a living room/dining room, a fully equipped kitchen, a laundry area and her favorite room, the master bathroom with a Jacuzzi, in what was once the cockpit. Ussery named her dream house “Little Trump,” a reference to Donald Trump’s $16-million corporate jet, also a Boeing 727. She shared her story with the audiences of TV talk shows like the “Today Show” and “The David Letterman Show.”
Ussery lived in her dream house from April 1995 to May 1999; on May 18, it was significantly damaged when it fell off a truck hired to move it one mile to a new location, where Ussery had planned to open it up for public viewing. It is not known when any repair work will be performed pending resolution of insurance issues.