For all its appearances of being fit for flight, the Futuro is actually more like a boat than an aircraft, Donaldson discovered.
"It's built like a boat, it has movement," he said. "It has to be a little bit elastic, it has to have good UV protection and it has to be durable."
So, he took it to a boatyard where he and restorers and materials experts, spent two years refinishing the exterior.
The team sanded the Futuro down to discover the original harvest-gold color, replaced an 8-foot diameter section on the top because it was deteriorated, fabricated and replaced the windows and went through an exhaustive process of finishing, painting and coating the exterior.
By this time, Donaldson knew he wanted a special place for the Futuro, and bought a rocky outcropping in Idyllwild in the San Jacinto Mountains for $75,000.
But a helicopter company flatly told him that the cost of airlifting the home to the site would be astronomical.
Donaldson's Futuro was eventually hauled on a flat-bed truck 130 miles from San Diego to an elevation of 6,500 feet in the mountains.
It was just one challenge after another, said Donaldson. "Had I really thought this all the way through from the beginning, maybe I wouldn't have done it. Probably not. But I'm glad I did."
With so many expenses paid piecemeal over the years, Donaldson said he has no idea how much the entire rescue, restoration and relocation cost.
"I have kept all the receipts, though," he said. "I haven't taken the time to add them up. It's probably more than I'd like to think."