Those Marvelous Motorized Stairs

motorized stairsIt has been suggested that I may be a wee bit obsessed with the motorized stairs. Well who can blame me? I mean, who doesn’t love the stairs truck?  Wait… you don’t?  WHAT???  How is that possible? Mobile stairs are CLEARLY a marvel of engineering and usefulness!  Allow me to spread a little mobile stairs love by sharing some of the things that make it awesome.

The Beginning


Are you kidding me with this? Just when I thought the stairs truck couldn’t get any cooler!

I figured the best place to start would be to do a little research into the history of the stairs truck, so I went to a source that is above reproach, renowned for its solid, unbiased facts… OK, fine – actually, I went to Wikipedia. I thought some crazed stairs fan… I mean some learned historian would have taken the time to document the beginnings of such an important vehicle.  Wrong!  The only mention of the mobile stairs that I could find was a couple of sentences buried in the middle of an article about airport equipment. The stupid baggage tug gets higher billing! Heck, jet bridges get their own damn article! It’s appalling! I tried using a variety of search terms – mobile stairs, motorized stairs, stairs truck. Nothing! That’s does it – Wikipedia, you are dead to me!

Google Fail

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These sad little stairs aren’t motorized. What a shame!

Swallowing my disappointment, I turned instead to the mighty Google. Surely it will be filled with information about the storied past of the stairs truck! Sadly, no. I thought I was on to something when I came across AviationPro’s article on the history of ground support equipment, but they focus more on tugs and jet bridges than stairs. (Tugs and jet bridges again! I see tugs and jet bridges around all day and I’m telling you, they just aren’t that exciting!) After a bit more digging I was forced to conclude that the history of the mobile stairs is either lost to the sands of time or buried so far in the depths of Google that it will never see the light of day.

Historical reenactment

“This is the role I waited a lifetime for!”

Since Wikipedia and Google were no help and I’m feeling too lazy to do any real research, the following is a representation of how I think the invention of the mobile stairs went down. The setting is an Old Timey Airport many years ago. I picture Robert Duvall in the role of the Airplane Builder and Leonardo DiCaprio as the intrepid ramp agent.

Ye Olde Ramper: Wow! Nice plane!

Ye Olde Airplane Builder: Thanks! It is bigger and better than previous models and can carry more passengers. I didn’t bother with stairs though – they are heavy and annoying.  You’ll have to figure out some way of getting the passengers on and off.

Ye Olde Ramper: Like hauling a heavy, awkward ladder around? I don’t think so!  Hey, I have an idea – I’ll build a set of stairs onto the back of that old truck!

Um… OK, so maybe the history of the mobile stairs isn’t that exciting.  Then again, who would have thought that so much greatness would spring from such humble beginnings?

Still Not Convinced?


Look at how the mobile stairs stands out in a crowd! Is there a tug in this picture? Who cares!

I know some of you are thinking – OK, whatever. It’s just a truck with stairs on the back. What’s the big deal? Well to start with, the mobile stairs have the most unique look of all airport vehicles. No one can confuse the stairs with any other equipment. (Compare that to tugs which all look alike.) Secondly, motorized stairs are CLEARLY the most useful of all vehicles. Don’t believe me? Allow me to present the following list of totally cool things you can do with mobile stairs:

FullSizeRender (6)

Look at this nice collection of airport vehicles, all neatly parked. There is just one teeny little problem… NO MOBILE STAIRS!!!

– Attending an outdoor concert? Roll up in the motorized stairs and you’ll have the best seat in the house. Plus you can make some extra money by selling space on the lower steps.

– Love apple picking but hate having to fight crowds of people all going after the same apples on the lower branches? Drive up in a stairs truck you’ll be King/Queen of the orchard!

– Stuck on the second floor? Park the stairs truck near a window and you’ve got a handy escape plan. Is work stressful? Class boring? Spouse nagging? Just open the window and you’re outta there!

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This cat has just learned that some people do not love the motorized stairs. He is not amused. Also, he’s plotting to kill me.

– Speaking of that nagging spouse, if he/she is smart enough to nail the windows shut to prevent your escape, never fear – the stairs truck will make all those outdoor chores (painting, window washing, gutter repair) a breeze!

– Is the darn cat stuck in a tree again? You know if you try to climb up after it, the cat will only climb higher. The solution? Park the stairs truck near one of the lower branches and let the cat come down on its own. Just remember to tell the cat that under no circumstances is it to use the stairs. If you expressly forbid kitty from touching the stairs, it’ll make a beeline for them right away. Trust me on this.

Need More?

Perhaps these videos can convince you!

Motorized stairs, vs. stairs being pulled by a tug. One is CLEARLY superior.

I know what you’re thinking but I SWEAR I am not the airport employee referenced in this video.

But Wait, There’s Even More!

You’re probably starting to realize, however reluctantly, that the mobile stairs are more cool than you thought. Well hang on to your hats – a friend on twitter recently brought to my attention this picture of a mobile stairs BUS! I have no idea of it is real or not but who cares! Two words: Mind. Blown!!!

stairs bus

11 thoughts on “Those Marvelous Motorized Stairs

  1. Never knew that I had a deep down interest in such details about airports. Keep ’em coming, love reading about your job and the airport (from an insiders view).


  2. You know what’s also cool? Boring markets a VIP version of the 747-800, and one of the options — because let’s face it, nobody can afford a $350 million private jet until they’re 89 years old — is a built-in elevator that drops down from the belly of the aircraft. And yes, in has windows!


      • If you read Gulfstream’s iPad magazine, Nonstop, they have interactive ads in there with images. Pretty cool. I heard they built a 747 with a clear floor so the owner could keep an eye on his car collection on the lower deck. #cha-ching!


  3. Here comes my two cents worth, I’ve never seen a stair truck leave those disgusting black rubber seal marks like a jet way does. As a pilot that fly’s for a airline that operates a mostly white in color fleet this is a pet peeve for me. Like my flight boots I believe you should be able to see your reflection when looking at an aircrafts fuselage not a faded black mark that never seems to wash off. Stair trucks don’t smudge so they rate high on my preferred methods of boarding. Okay, so that was worth about one cent.


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