Derelicts vs. Cannibals
March 30, 2005 9:19 AM   Subscribe

Planes check in but they don’t check out. At boneyards across the country, derelict airliners await cannibalization, destruction, or possible restoration.
posted by breezeway (26 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Was anyone else's first thought "GTA: San Andreas"?
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:26 AM on March 30, 2005

Actually, if you can get the numbers, you can find photos of many of the deceased planes when they were in service.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:30 AM on March 30, 2005

Mayor Curley, for your first comment above I think you meant:

"UM, was it just Mayor Curley, or did anyone else think...?"

Please adjust your settings for future posts.

posted by soyjoy at 9:32 AM on March 30, 2005

Nice post. Has anyone ever taken a tour of one these boneyards?
posted by Staggering Jack at 9:33 AM on March 30, 2005

This looks like my ultimate playground.
posted by cmyk at 9:36 AM on March 30, 2005

Nice stuff.
posted by at 9:37 AM on March 30, 2005

There are also some great boneyard shots at, where you can look up the planes by reg number and see them in their glory days.
posted by songfta at 9:41 AM on March 30, 2005

As a big airplane buff, I find this both fascinating and cool, and yet somehow depressing.

Just think of how many people have flown on these. Some excited, some terrified, people returning to their loved ones, leaving home to strike it out, coming back for a funeral, a wedding, whatever.

Okay, now I'm going loopy.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 9:41 AM on March 30, 2005

Reminds me of the place I so longed to visit as a child...the military equivalent, Davis-Monthan AFB
posted by Pliskie at 9:43 AM on March 30, 2005

I think of all the historic planes out there that are just wasting away. Seems like a fair amount of them could be restored for display.
It's a shame, really. Take the Constellation in one of the last photos, beautiful plane, just beautiful.
posted by mk1gti at 9:46 AM on March 30, 2005

When I was a kid (late 70's) I went with a group of folks to a boneyard near Tucson, AZ where they were able to buy, for about $8,000, a Convair A29 that had been "pickled" for storage years before.

After a few days of work, they secured a ferry permit and flew it to Arlington, WA where, over the course of a few months, they restored it sufficiently to use for transporting fish in Alaska.
posted by bz at 9:49 AM on March 30, 2005

Very sad.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 10:32 AM on March 30, 2005

It's unfortunate that they don't offer these for sale. Now, a plane that's been baking in the desert for decades is close to useless, but after grabbing a dozen it seems possible to cobble together a full working vehicle. It's like looking at a lot of classic cars and seeing them just rot away.
posted by Vaska at 10:37 AM on March 30, 2005

I was stationed at D-M for two years in the '80s. I was one of the LE troops that guarded the graveyard. At the time it was the third largest air force in the world. Twenty percent of the aircraft were maintained to be in service within a twelve hour notice. We had at least one of every type of aircraft that the military has ever used, including civilian passenger aircraft used for troop movement during Vietnam.

Although I was in the Air Force, aircraft were never my thing. But even I couldn't help being amazed at what lay before me every time I went out there. I have lots of great pics of us walking on the planes, laying on the wings, and sitting in the cockpits.

Because the perimeter was virtually impossible to patrol 24/7 we had a lot of vagrants living in the aircraft. Sometimes they would leave the stairs down and coyotes would take up residence. I vividly remember the time that we got Air Force 2. It sat on a tarmac for a few days waiting to be mothballed. The aircraft was still stocked as if VP Bush was going to board it at any moment. Everything had the presidential seal. I so badly wanted to take an ashtray, but my conscious won out and I left it for someone else.
posted by Juicylicious at 10:39 AM on March 30, 2005

My parents retired to Southern Arizona, just south of Tucson, where both Davis-Monthan AFB and the Pima Air Museum is located.

In many ways, the PAM is better than the Smithsonian.

Sure, sure, it doesn't have stuff like Glamorous Glennis, but it does have stuff like the sole surviving F-107. And they're (mostly) kept outside in the dry desert air.

They get the pick of what comes though Davis-Monthan.

If you're ever in the area, I can highly recommend it.
posted by Relay at 10:40 AM on March 30, 2005

Well, you could turn one in to a home, like this guy did, or you could hire these folks to do it for you.
posted by jeffbarr at 10:41 AM on March 30, 2005

Relay, have you seen the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles, VA? It's a nice addition to the collection.
posted by breezeway at 10:47 AM on March 30, 2005

Cool pictures - I'd love to get my camera in there and take a few shots, though it looks like a sort of rusty nail paradise. I think there's one of these things on the way to mammoth from LA.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 10:48 AM on March 30, 2005

Anybody know what's in the nose or "snout" of a plane that makes it so valuable?
posted by potuncle at 11:20 AM on March 30, 2005

posted by mnology at 11:30 AM on March 30, 2005

Hey Juicylicious, I'll bet you chased me out of that graveyard on more than one occasion. I had a friend who lived very near the graveyard and we used to "salvage" parts late at night. One of my friends still has a pilot's seat in his den.
posted by JeffK at 11:32 AM on March 30, 2005

Reminds me of the documentary calledHome Movie. Also, didn't they film Con Air in one of these? What a good movie to drink your self unconscious to.
posted by gunthersghost at 11:34 AM on March 30, 2005

Radar in tact.
posted by mnology at 11:35 AM on March 30, 2005

posted by DrJohnEvans at 2:51 PM on March 30, 2005

Great post, Breezeway. I live in Arizona, and was recently bitching to nobody in particular that I haven't taken any cool day trips in a while.

Problem solved. Thanks.
posted by 27 at 8:08 PM on March 30, 2005

The mythbusters did a show at this place recently, where they tested the idea that a bullet fired from inside a plane will cause explosive decompression just like it does in the movies. Cool place.
posted by dg at 7:48 PM on March 31, 2005

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