- Associated Press - Sunday, February 9, 2014

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - The guesthouse in Toshikazu Tsukii’s yard at La Cholla Airpark looks as if it could take off on the adjoining runway.

Tsukii (the last name sounds something like “Ski,” and that’s what everybody calls him) affixed the nose cone of a Boeing 737 and the tail of a 727 to metal garages that flank a two-story guesthouse built from the cabin sections of two 707s.

It is furnished almost totally with surplus airplane parts - the toilet, sink and bathtub being notable exceptions.

A nearby indoor pool is covered with the fuselage of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet.

Tsukii’s wife, Doris, who was a drama student in Wichita, Kan., when she met her future husband, rolled her eyes theatrically when asked her first impression of the four-year backyard project, completed in December.

“There are worse things,” said Doris, who will celebrate 50 years of marriage to Tsukii next month with a cruise through the Panama Canal. “He could be getting into trouble. I’ve had an exciting life with him - a good life - and I’m very proud of him.”

For Tsukii, building the guesthouse accomplished the last of three career goals he established for himself early in life. He wanted to be an aviator, an engineer and an architect. He was the designer and builder for the project.

Tsukii, born in Japan in 1937, was an air cadet at the Japan National Defense Academy before moving to the United States to attend Pasadena City College, Wichita State University and the University of Colorado, majoring in aeronautical engineering, electrical engineering and applied mathematics.

He is a Principal Engineering Fellow at Raytheon Missile Systems, where he has worked for the past 41 years. He holds a number of patents for transmitters and receivers invented for missiles and electronic countermeasures.

He holds licenses as a commercial pilot and flight instructor. He has built two mobile flight simulators using surplus post office jeeps - one with a Cessna nose cone.

He has always had more than one iron in the fire. A 1962 article from the Fort Scott (Kansas) Tribune described how the 24-year-old Wichita State student was putting himself through college working as a TV repairman, electronics technician, sign painter, judo instructor, photographer, folk singer, guitar player and Samurai swordsman.

Tsukii began the airplane project four years ago when he saw the nose cone of the 737 in a scrap metal “boneyard” near Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

“It was beat up, in bad shape,” he said. He looked beyond appearances. “I got the vision.”

He began planning his guesthouse.

He was fortunate to be living in La Cholla Airpark, where the 91 homes are arranged around a landing strip and many homes have metal airplane hangars on their large lots. “The fact that we’re all on seven acres or more made a difference,” said Gil Alexander, vice president of the airpark homeowners association.

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