Airstreams in popular culture

Originally an icon of the 1940s, the Airstream has experienced something of a resurgence, becoming popular not just with American holidaymakers again, but with Europeans too. As the original glamorous camping vehicle, they come fitted with all the mod cons for a comfortable stay – heating, an ensuite bathroom, a fridge freezer, a TV – and hark back to a time when travel on the dusty road was full of promise and adventure.

Classic airstream in wooded area with extending awning

A home for the stars

Indeed, the appeal of the Airstream has been so great over the past decade that it’s become something of a pop culture icon. A-lister Matthew McConaughey lived in one in Malibu for a time and toured in it to promote his 2005 movie Sahara. According to the Airstream blog, he’s not the only Hollywood fan – Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt, Colin Farrell and Sandra Bullock are among the multitude of celebrities who have owned one.

On the silver screen

The ‘Silver Bullet’ has itself appeared on the silver screen, featuring in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Independence Day, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and several more films. On the small screen, it has made appearances in hit shows such as Grey’s Anatomy (an Airstream was reputedly Patrick Dempsey’s trailer of choice too) and The Simple Life.

A political aide

Less well known is the penchant of US politicians for this iconic caravan. An Airstream was used as a mobile office for none other than JFK while he was previewing army weaponry and First Lady Laura Bush made one her base when she visited troops in Afghanistan in 2008. Dick Cheney has also toured in this retro classic.

The Space Race

NASA nicknamed the Airstream the Astrovan back in the 1960s, and when the crew of Apollo 11 touched back down on earth, it was to a modified Airstream they went. They were quarantined inside until being cleared of anything unpleasant or infectious moon particles – Richard Nixon even interviewed them in it.