The Airstream Factory in Jackson Center was on our radar, and the next stop for us on our way home. We pulled into this rural area, interested in seeing how Airstream had made its home here. To encourage visitors, hook-ups are $10 a night; free if you’re having work done. Interestingly, each spot was laid out in a spoke pattern, like wheels on a tire. Utilities are located in the center of the wheel, and is a great design for putting many into compact spaces. Backing skills are required but not hard to manage, and for those needing work done or interested in a factory tour, it’s very convenient.
It seems when you own an Airstream, taking a tour of the factory is a part of ownership people look forward to. After my dad spent 42 years working at Beech Aircraft (and having done my own time at Boeing and Cessna), picking an aircraft aluminum Airstream seemed like my only choice. (I’m pretty sure my Dad would have approved.) We picked a Friday for our tour when the workers aren’t there, so it was quiet and we were able to see and hear everything quite clearly. Knowing how loud the factory can get, we planned accordingly! Our tour guide was Don, an 80+ year old employee who had worked there for years, and pretty cute. The factory tour was so similar to being in an aircraft factory it was instantly familiar. Don talked about some things that Airstream does for their trailers that are “ex-tree” compared to other brands, making it sound special while walking us through the stages of production. A group from the Wally Byam Caravan Club International (WBCCI) was there to take the tour with us, before attending an Airstream rally in Sugar Creek, Ohio. Amy helped us with our “special needs” 10 years old Airstream purchases, and couldn’t have been nicer. It was small town hospitality, and Customer Service at its best. While there, we bought led lights for the outside of our Airstream, planning to finish the upgrade we had begun inside. All but a couple of lights had been installed and the difference between the old fluorescents and the new led lights was quite an improvement….an upgrade we were happy to invest in.
Our next door “neighbors” were Paul and Karen, there with their WBCCI, and friend Gary. They were friendly, and just like everywhere else, we shared personal Airstream tours. I was able to demonstrate the difference between our old lights and the new, which is quite dramatic when seen side by side. There was more talk of trailer tires, wheels, hitches and improvements like flooring, a Goldilocks chair, and what’s involved in taking showers. (Washing your hair is no excuse, but instead a planned exercise.) I’m still amazed by the instant friendships you can make, and by this point in our journey, if I’ve learned anything, it’s to keep our little home “tour ready”. It doesn’t matter the age or model…someone will want to see it!
In the front of the factory, by the road and in the parking lot, there is a line of vintage Airstreams. Upon closer inspection, it felt like we were in Jules Verne novel. See if you don’t agree!