Published: Friday, April 13, 2007
Plan to convert plane into B&B likely to crash
Neighbors have been complaining about the backyard collection.
SHEFFIELD, Ohio (AP) A man's dream to convert an airplane into a bed and breakfast has encountered a little turbulence.
Ed Guidicelli, a 40-year-old antiques enthusiast with a knack for restoration, hopes to transform the 42-passenger Convair into a studio-style, luxury bed and breakfast.
Right now though, the 1948 aircraft looks like it crashed in his back yard, a wooded 4-acre lot in Northeast Ohio.
Guidicelli believes the project could help put his economically depressed Lorain County town on the map.
But Guidicelli acknowledges the naysayers and the possibility that his dream will get shot down.
Township trustee Timothy Mihalcik said he has received many complaints from residents, pressuring township officials to put an end to Guidicelli's backyard collection, which includes a vintage C&O caboose parked on rails near the plane.
Trustees adopted a zoning ordinance last year outlawing residents from keeping planes, trains and other eyesores on their property. Guidicelli's plane and caboose will be protected by a grandfather clause.
Here's a problem
Township zoning inspector Harold Wilson said for Guidicelli to open a bed and breakfast he must have the property rezoned from residential to commercial unlikely given the lack of a central sanitation system in the area.
Guidicelli though is unperturbed. He already has begun to refurbish the interior with hardwood floors and new walls.
He said he has given tours of the plane and caboose to more than a hundred visitors, most who have offered encouragement and support.
"It's a piece of history," Guidicelli said. "And most people are thrilled that I'm saving it. A part of me knew it would be an uphill battle. But if I don't do it now, I never will."
The plane's history is rather infamous.
It was once emblazoned with the words "Air Rajneesh" and is believed to have been among several in a fleet owned by former cult leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, who left India in the early 1980s and established a commune of his followers in Antelope, Ore.
During the several years when the commune thrived, Rajneesh created his own airline to shuttle disciples to and from the remote, arid town.
But after a series of controversies and criminal investigations, the commune dissolved and Rajneesh was deported. The guru died in 1990.
Here's the mystery
How one of his airplanes ended up in Ohio is unclear.
But when Guidicelli spotted it, disassembled and scattered on some property along the side of a highway in Oak Harbor, west of Sandusky, he knew he had to own it. Ever since he was a child, Guidicelli wanted an airplane.
He made several offers, but the owner seemed intent on selling it to a nearby water park. Guidicelli didn't think he could outbid a water park, but he persisted. When the owner fell on hard times before the water park was ready to buy, Guidicelli made his move.
Before long, the "Air Rajneesh" in six pieces loaded onto two semis landed in Sheffield.
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