At first glance, this seems like an idea that would never fly. Well, it doesn’t actually fly, but you know what I mean. Don’t forget that the father of Airstream, Wally Byam, was inspired by the designs created by Hawley Bowlus. Bowlus happened to have overseen the construction of an uppity little aircraft known as the Spirit of St. Louis. So, clamping an actual 1957 Pratt and Whitney radial airplane engine on an Airstream trailer and setting it in a pavilion at the international airport in Munich, Germany might only be a half-crazy idea.
But the trailer isn’t merely something to be amazed by. You can buy lunch out of it, and while amazed, sit and eat nearby. “We wanted something special for this great location—we wanted an eye catcher,” says Michelle Gebhardt, marketing spokesperson for the gastronomy subsidiary of the Munich Airport. The winged trailer is a business: Smokey Joe’s, which serves a selection of red and white currywursts, with various sauces of increasing degrees of heat. Smokey indeed.
You can’t chomp on one of those big dogs inside, since that’s taken up with all of the wurst-working equipment. After buying the 29-foot 1972 Ambassador International from Airstream Germany, modifications on the trailer took about two months, including removal of all of the interior furnishings and replacing them with a deep fryer, fridge and hotplate. The trailer had to be fully rewired to accommodate new electronics. And then there was that little issue of the wings: they were custom-built and mounted on the Airstream sides.
There are also some information panels about the Airstream on an exterior wall. The trailer has been serving spicy wursts since 2008, and they have an impeccable safety record: no crashes no evacuations at sea and no emergencies—just the occasional need for water or soft drinks after orders of the hottest sauce.
Following an interesting idea to its winged conclusion sometimes works out just right. “We were looking for something original to turn into a curry sausage stand, but it had to fit to the airport—so the idea was born,” says Michelle Gebhardt.
The Airstream might remain on the ground, but that idea definitely took flight.
-By Tom Bentley