Home Classic Airliners 13 Places to See Classic Airliners

13 Places to See Classic Airliners

by Matt Falcus

Today’s skies and airports are full of modern airliner types from Airbus, Boeing, Embraer and other manufacturers.

Even traditional bastions of older aircraft like Africa and parts of Asia seem to be catching up fast with more and more modern types.

Older generation jets like the Boeing 727, 737-200, Douglas DC-9, DC-10 and classic Boeing 747, as well as older piston and turboprop types like the Douglas DC-3, Fokker F-27 and BAe 748 are now incredibly rare.

Often these types are not possible to fly on as passengers any more, and only solider on in cargo and military roles.

But there are some airports where it’s more likely to see an older type like these. Read on for some suggestions to get your classic airliner fix.



Anchorage Ted Stevens International


The main airport serving the state of Alaska is a hub for cargo and intra state flights serving outlying communities.

Some of the operators fulfilling these roles still fly older types, with Everts Air for example flying Douglas DC-3, DC-6, Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commandos and McDonnell Douglas MD-80 types regularly.

There are other operators of classis piston airliners are the airport, too.



Airbus A300B4-605R 'EP-IBB' Iran Air

Iran’s capital city is home to many of the nation’s airlines, flying domestic and regional services.

Thanks to economic sanctions on the country, its airlines are forced into keeping older airliner types going, unable to buy or lease new ones.

As such, you’ll see older types like the Airbus A300, A310, Fokker 100 and McDonnell Douglas MD-80 still going strong with airlines like Iran Air and Mahan Air.

Whilst these may not be seen as ‘classic’ airliners by many, this example does represent some of the last opportunities to fly on these particular airliner types. You just need to get to Iran to do so!



This suggestion is partially tongue-in-cheek, but not entirely implausible.

Pyongyang is the capital of North Korea, and home to national airline Air Koryo. Like Iran, the country is locked in sanctions and unable to acquire modern airliner types, and so the airline still flies aircraft like the Tupolev Tu-134, Tu-154, Tu-204 and Ilyushin Il-62. In fact, it is the last airline operator in the world of many of these types.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic it was possible to arrange specialist tours to North Korea to fly on these aircraft. In the future, it is hoped they may be possible again, before the types are retired.




If you’ve ever followed the airline Buffalo Airways, either through the Ice Pilots TV series, or the work of the airline’s manager Mikey McBryan and his Plane Savers profile, you’ll know that their home of Yellowknife, NWT in Canada is an amazing place for classic airliners.

Buffalo itself still flies many classic types, like the Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando, Douglas DC-3 and Lockheed L-188 Electra on their cargo and specialist services.

You’ll often see these present at Yellowknife. Yellowknife also regularly sees other older types, like the Boeing 737-200.


Red Deer


Like Yellowknife, Red Deer in Alberta is a hub for classic types operated by Buffalo Airways and other carriers.

At this airport, airlines often store or perform maintenance on their fleet, with many examples of the Lockheed Electra and DC-3 passing through and often in open storage awaiting future use (or cannibalisation).


Mexico City


Whilst the international airport here is served by many world airlines using modern aircraft – and even national carrier Aeromexico operates modern types – there are still chances to see some older aircraft here.

In particular, the Mexican Police still flies Boeing 727-200 aircraft from the airport, painted in a striking black livery.



André Du-pont (Mexico Air Spotters) (GFDL 1.2 <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html> or GFDL 1.2 <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html>), via Wikimedia Commons

There’s a certain familiarity with many of these suggestions. Venezuela is another country currently limited by sanctions, and as a result its airlines are still flying older jets.

At Caracas you’ll see types like the Airbus A340-200 and Boeing 737-200.



Astral Aviation B 727-227(Adv)(F) 5Y-MWM

Kenya’s capital city and main airport at Nairobi is a great place to see some of the airliners long forgotten from European and North American skies.

Types like the Boeing 727-200, DHC-7 Dash Seven, Douglas DC-9, Embraer Bandeirante and Fokker 50 soldier on here, with some even in passenger service.

In fact, many airports in Kenya and around East Africa are served by these aircraft and types, so it’s a great place to see them.


Johannesburg Rand

Douglas DC4-1009 'ZS-AUB'

Rand Airport near Johannesburg is home to Skyclass Aviation, which still flies classic types like the Douglas DC-3 and DC-4 – even in passenger service.

The airport is also home to the South African Airways Museum which has a Boeing 747SP, 747-200 and other classic types on display.



Plane to Lukla

The capital of Nepal has the main international airport. It is also where many local airlines perform flights to outlying destinations – particularly Lukla, close to Mt Everest.

Airlines operating these flights use classic types like the De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter and Dornier 228.

The airport also has a storage area full of older turboprop and jet types.



53132 EC135

The city in southern Arizona has a number of aviation attractions to consider.

Aside from the international airport, which has some older stored airliners hiding in corners, you can head a few miles away to the vast Davis Monthan Air Force Base.

This expansive desert airfield has rows upon rows of retired and mothballed US Air Force aircraft lined up awaiting parting out, scrapping, or return to service.

Of course, many are military fighters, bombers, helicopters and trainers. But there are also transport types, aerial refuelers and even some airliners in civilian markings.

The easiest way to see them all is by hiring a light aircraft overflight, or by meticulously driving around the perimeter roads.

Just nearby is the Pima Air & Space Museum which has some classic airliners on display, including a Boeing 707, Caravelle and Lockheed Constellation among many others.



The airport serving the capital of Colombia is sadly beyond the days when first generation jets and propliners were the norm. However, there are still some interesting sights here.

The Colombian police still have some DC-3 aircraft present, and cargo carrier Aerosucre still flies Boeing 727 freighters from the airport.



Fairbanks airport

Alaska’s second airport is another hub for older types of aircraft, like the Douglas DC-3 and DC-6 operating on essential supply and logistics services throughout the state.

You’ll often see them parked up being worked on between flights, and the sound of those radial engines is just great!

A Note About Russia

Russia is, of course, a country which is still served by many classic aircraft types, like the Tupolev Tu-204, Yakovlev Yak-40 and Yak-42 and many Antonov types.

However, travel there is restricted and we wouldn’t support it at the moment owing to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

In the future, it may be possible to fly on these types again, and visit the many airports where classic airliners often languish forgotten about in great numbers – types like the Tupolev Tu-154, Ilyushin Il-62 and Il-76.


How to Fly on Older Airliners

If you’re looking for an opportunity to fly on an older airliner, we produce a guide called Last Chance to Fly.

Whilst some types just aren’t flying passengers any more, there are many that it’s still possible to get a flight on. Types like the Airbus A300, Douglas DC-3, Boeing 737-200 and McDonnell Douglas MD-80 are all flying passengers – you just need to know where!

This guide is available to download, and updated regularly, but you’ll have to be an Airport Spotting Premium Member to get your copy (and unlimited updates).

To find out more about Premium Membership, click here: https://www.airportspotting.com/member/



(Lead picture Jeroen Stroes Aviation Photography)




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David December 28, 2022 - 3:55 pm

Don’t forget Teesside! 2 x 727-200s based there and cheaper and easier to visit if residing in the UK

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