Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Street-legal Planemate

What's a planemate? Check the links.
  [vote for,

At Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., the airplanes don't taxi up to the gates to be met by a telescoping walkway. Instead, they use a unique vehicle once called a "planemate" (see links) to ferry passengers from the terminal to the plane. I want a planemate that I can drive to work.

These are no ordinary buses like one finds at many airports, and which require an additional mobile staircase to get people into and out of the plane. No, these babies have a pair of stilts in the middle of the vehicle that allow it to be vertically adjusted from ground level to the height of the terminal gate to the door of the aircraft.

And talk about interior space or luggage capacity! They're *enormous.* I mean, you could load an entire 747 with just one or two of these things. A more common name for them is "mobile lounges," because they're so big inside and because in the early days, cocktails were served on the way to the plane. Make one of these street legal, and all those goofs who think they're cool with the bar in the back of their van will have to genuflect when you ride by. And if you find it hard to fit all the groceries in your car, drive one of these and you'd only have to go shopping once in your life!

And what a cool, retro-ugly design it has. Just look at the pictures in the links! Especially the front end! Has there ever been a cooler front end design than that bug-mouth-looking retractable whatever-it-is? Man, I'd be stylin' for sure in one of these.

It would also be totally cool to use the vertical adjustment feature. You could drive down the road with it fully elevated. Then you'd be able to sneer at the piddling SUV drivers with their so-called elevated view of traffic...and yet the entire vehicle would be so high up you wouldn't block the view of anyone behind you, like the SUVs do.

Of course, there are just tons of other things you could do if you could drive one of these. I'll leave some of them for you to imagine.

But wait! Too expensive, you say, to have one of these built for joyriding? Well today's your lucky day, because as a matter of fact, Dulles airport has just embarked upon a major renovation project that will REPLACE THE PLANEMATES with an underground train system! So in a year or two, these beautiful hulking babies are going to be SCRAP. I bet you could pick one up for a song. Then all you'd have to do is get it modified to make it street legal.

One drawback is that the top speed is probably not too impressive. But I'd want to go slow anyway, to make sure everybody else on the road had a good chance to see me up there driving it.

beauxeault, Feb 13 2003

Photo 1. Ground Level. Check out that bug-mouth front end! http://www.metwasha...es/MobileLounge.htm
[beauxeault, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Photo 2. Elevated and sucking on a 747 http://www.metwasha...pages/PlaneMate.htm
[beauxeault, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Photo 3. Scroll to the bottom. http://archive.abcn...airport_washdulles/
Rear view is stylish, too, looking like a cross between a space alien and a moon-buggy. [beauxeault, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]


       How can it be street-legal if it won't fit on a street?!
supercat, Feb 13 2003

       It must be street legal. The title says so.

I see these things sucking out a group of seniors from the home and transporting them to the mall and back. In style, and out of the rain.
pluterday, Feb 13 2003

       The tires on it would have to be under 44 inches, or else it won't be street-legal. You couldn't drive in a breeze because the thing in a friggin sail. It would be super cool though.
Veritas, Feb 13 2003

       How many gallons per mile does it get?
Worldgineer, Feb 13 2003

       I've ridden on one of these. They're - amazing. Sorry to hear of their demise, they save a lot of walking.
8th of 7, Feb 13 2003

       3 words: roll over risk.   

       But it's still super cool! My croissant is elevated so you can reach it.
galukalock, Feb 13 2003

       I've ridden on the Dulles planemates @ 12 times. Croissant.
thumbwax, Feb 13 2003

       You know, I think there are a couple of places in Europe that might have these too - either Madrid, or Paris CDG. They all blur into one after a while ....
8th of 7, Feb 14 2003

       Don't modify the planemate, BX, modify the law! The vehicle is cool the way it is.
snarfyguy, Feb 14 2003

       a cross between a monster truck and a wide body bus, cool. I think Mexico City had these last time I was there...
rbl, Feb 14 2003

       They seem to be different models. I much prefer the one from the first link.
RoboBust, Feb 14 2003

       You are correct [8th], they do have these at Charles de Gaulle.
krelnik, Feb 18 2003

       I can't believe you missed the obvious application [beauxeault]: Make the thing a mobile office!
1) Drive to woik
2) Attach Planemate/office to wall with door in center (Phone/network/electric connections mate automatically)
3) Start woiking

       Don't woik on the first floor? No problem! Stuck in traffic? No problem! Visiting customers? No problem! Need to work from home? No problem! Etc, etc, etc....
phoenix, Feb 18 2003

       Something about the phrase 'sucking out seniors' just appeals to me. I picture a giant vaccuum system underneath, for hoover-powered 'assistance.'
RayfordSteele, Feb 18 2003

       phoenix: Cool. Actually, I did envision driving it up to an office building, raising it to the second floor, and entering the office through the window. But I like your version better.
beauxeault, Feb 18 2003


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