flying Winnebago

The Flying Winnebago

The Heli-home

Last June the RV industry celebrated its 100 anniversary and, for a story about the history of the RV industry that appeared on Travel, I visited the Recreational Vehicle/Manufactured Home Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart, Indiana.

The museum displays the ‘house car’ Paramount Studios provided for movie star Mae West, a homemade motor home based on a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado, a variety of first production units and pristine versions of popular models such as the 1954 15-foot Shasta travel trailer described as a being typical of the “canned-ham” style trailers of the 1950s.

Mae West's 1931 'house car'

Not on display at the museum, but shown in a photograph there, was a flying camper called a ‘heli-home,’ which I described in a post here on

James R. Chiles contacted me to let me know he was working on a story about that Flying Winnebago for Air&Space/Smithsonian and, now that the story is published, he’s sent a link.

More a novelty than a mass-produced vehicle, Chiles reports that the Winnebago company built perhaps seven Heli-Homes or Heli-Campers. They “… could sleep six passengers, and had an electric range, sink, fridge, couches, eight-track tape deck, television, generator, twin water heaters, parquet-topped dinette tables, mini-bar, air conditioner, furnace, shower, and bathroom with holding tanks.”

And, of course, they could fly.

Don’t you want one? I do!

Here’s a link to the Flying Winnebago story by James R. Chiles.