We all know the reputation airplane meals have: meager portions, strange packaging, and unidentifiable mush – a little bit like your elementary school cafeteria, but at cruising altitude. The meals served aboard this particular aircraft are a different story. In this case, the plane doesn’t actually leave the ground and you don’t have to wear your seatbelt while eating. At the Coventry Airbase in central UK, a Douglas DC-6 aircraft has been transformed into a 40-seat fine-dining restaurant called the DC-6 Diner.
The DC-6 Diner is part of the Coventry Airbase “living aviation museum,” which features over 30 vintage airplanes spread out across the base ready to be explored. It’s been termed a “living aviation museum” because rather than just put the planes on display, they are all perfectly maintained and ready to fly. In their effort to keep the past alive, the Airbase believes that the aircraft are “not to be mounted and stared at like stuffed animals, beautiful, but irrevocably dead.” Every plane is kept in its original condition so that visitors to the museum can climb aboard and experience the plane the way it looked when first produced. This diverse spread of vintage aircraft serves as the backdrop to the dining experience at the DC-6 diner.
The airplane that now houses the diner first took to the skies in 1958, running covert missions in Southeast Asia. In 1987 it joined the charter company, Air Atlantique, and continued to make transatlantic trips until grounded in 2006. According to one retired pilot, the DC-6 is the perfect aircraft for a diner because “’it used to provide people with sheer luxury compared to what you get today, it was an incredibly well engineered plane, which is why it was still flying so recently.” Designed for a comfortable and high-class ride, plenty of room was made available for passengers to move around the cabin unlike most of today’s cramped cabins. This made it the perfect choice for a restaurant conversion.
The 40 tables and chairs that line the cabin reflect the classic look of the plane’s simple, but elegant interior. Most of the plane has been left intact, giving diners a blast to the past via first-class. The original cockpit is open for diners to wander in and check out while waiting for their meals. And our favorite touch: you can use the original overhead call buttons to get your server’s attention.
The restaurant is run by the 35-year-old chef, Tony Caunce, and, not too surprisingly, the menu is aviation themed. Caunce is specializing in Aberdeen Angus steaks and many of them are named after classic aircraft, such as the Vampire gammon steak, Bomber T-bone, and the Meteor marinade fillet. The DC-6 Diner is also equipped with a full bar that can accommodate another 40 people. What a great way to reuse a historical artifact and bring it into a contemporary context.