Saturday, June 3, 2023


Pilot turns Southwest Airlines catering truck into incredible RV

Mark Pankey is a Southwest Airlines pilot. He’s also the owner of an RV he built out of (wait for it!) a decommissioned Southwest Airlines catering truck! His may be the only RV in existence equipped with a scissors lift, generally used by airlines to load snacks and beverages into its airplanes. It’s a fascinating story, so let’s get into it!

Van life

Pankey is no stranger to truck renovations. He’d remodeled a van already and was living in it. By parking his van in airport parking lots, he saved money on hotel costs while working. He lived this way for a few years and was making do until he was ready to build a house on a lot he’d purchased in Colorado.

COVID hits

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the airline industry all but stopped. Pilots were given time off with partial pay. With the future looking less than bright, Pankey put his house-building plans on hold.

A good buy

He was re-evaluating his future goals when a fellow pilot texted Pankey. He told Pankey that a number of decommissioned airline catering trucks were being auctioned off in Seattle. Pankey attended the auction and purchased his future RV for just $3,300.

A Southwest Airlines RV rebuild

The truck was all but empty, so Pankey started his rebuild from scratch. He refashioned the roof to make it slanted. This made the inside ceiling taller and also enhanced Pankey’s ability to collect rainwater. The slanted roof was also better for using the solar panels that he eventually positioned on top.

Pankey used foam insulation on all of the truck’s interior walls, and then installed the floor, walls, and interior cupboards, etc. He built a loft to hold a queen-size mattress, installed a composting toilet, and built a shower, too. A water tank is filled by rainwater or Pankey’s occasional stops at truck fueling stations.


Pankey estimates that his unusual Southwest Airlines RV conversion cost between $30,000 and $35,000, including the initial cost of the truck. He has since sold his apartment and land lot to live in his catering truck RV, which he’s named “The SnakPak.” Pankey’s lived full-time in his amazing RV for two years and counting.

Take a tour of his RV and learn more about it in the video below.



Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.


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Ray Morgan
1 month ago

We were at “Government Wash” in the Lake Mead rec area about 6 weeks ago and saw the RV there.

Fascinating reading about it after seeing it, and kudos to the owner/builder for a very interesting, one of a kind RV.

Jeff Craig
1 month ago


Tommy Molnar
1 month ago

I’ve seen many different “box truck” conversions but this one is without a doubt the coolest one yet. I love everything ‘Spanky’ did. His innovations are peerless! I’d love to have this truck. Wifey, on the other hand, is not interested, I guess we’re stuck in our TT. 🙂

Joe Allen
1 month ago

I’m impressed with that truck and his innovative designs he installed! The espresso machine was the best! Love the fact that the truck body can extend and walla, you are above the rest and enjoying nature at it’s finest! So cool!

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