These days aircraft scrapping and storage centres exist at airports around the world, with many notable examples worth visiting. However, in the western United States the world’s largest aircraft boneyards still exist, providing a tantalising glimpse into airlines and aircraft types of the past for aircraft enthusiasts to enjoy.
Here is a look at the main aircraft boneyards of the western USA.
Mojave Air and Space Port, CAA couple of hours north of Los Angeles in the Mojave Desert. Mojave Air and Space port is one of the best known aircraft boneyards, however, as its name suggests, it has sought to reinvent itself as a burgeoning base for commercial space flying and development in recent years.
Nevertheless, a good number of airliners can still be found parked in rows in the baking sun here. There are still many classic aircraft here, including Boeing 707s, Convair 880s and 990s, and BAC 1-11s.
Driving around the perimeter roads will usually ensure you can see everything stored at Mojave. Heading away from the airport buildings on Route 58, turn right onto Route 14 and then explore the streets on your right. Some have views over the airfield, allowing you to log what’s in with a good pair of binoculars or scope.
A tour used to be available from the control tower. Worth checking when you visit.
Victorville Southern California Logistics, CAOne of the largest aircraft boneyards in the USA. Victorville is 85 miles to the east of Los Angeles and fairly easy to reach. Aircraft are parked in different areas of the airfield, and include a good number of widebody jets.
Many aircraft which arrive here move on to work with other airlines, with a service area often filled with aircraft receiving attention.
As many enthusiasts have found out with US desert storage airports, hiring an overflight is often the best way to get close to parked aircraft, taking pictures as you go to identify later.
Adelanto Road leads past a number of dirt tracks which run towards the fence, and views of the parked aircraft.
Marana Pinal Airpark, AZ
The main commercial aircraft storage location in Arizona. Pinal Airpark is near Marana, to the north of Tucson. It has rows of large airliners, including Boeing 747s, Douglas DC-10s, L1011 TriStars, and some more recent types.
One of the airport’s directors has recently started giving airside tours to those who arrange in advance, giving access to log and photograph airliners parked up. Other spotters choose to charter a flight from Tucson into or over Marana to photograph and log everything.
The main aircraft boneyard in New Mexico. Roswell International Air Center is a large industrial airport with limited airline service. It has, however, become home to many retired airliners of American Airlines – particularly their McDonnell Douglas MD-80 fleet which is being retired, adding to the parked airliners every month. Other aircraft such as Boeing 757s and 767s from the airline are parked here, and other airlines also use the facility.
County Rd 255 runs around the eastern and southern perimeter of the airport, this road has views over aircraft stored around the remoter parts. Some spots are close enough for good photographs through the fence.
Davis Monthan, AZ
The world’s largest aircraft boneyard. Davis Monthan to the south of Tucson, Arizona, is primarily the storage location for retired US Air Force aircraft. Therefore it is of particular interest to military aircraft enthusiasts. However, military transport aircraft are also sent here, including Douglas DC-9, Boeing 727 and 737, Lockheed Hercules and other types. There were many Boeing 707s here originally, which supported the KC-135 fleets with parts.
The main Valencia Road has several roads running off it which allow views of some of the stored aircraft. Be sure to visit the Pima Air & Space Museum next to the site for its great collection of aircraft. www.pimaair.org
Phoenix Goodyear, AZ
A smaller Arizona storage airport, but nevertheless interesting with a good mix of airliners large and small present. Most are scrapped on site, and include some rarer airlines from around the world.
Bulliard Avenue on the west of the airport is a good place to stop and read the stored airliners off from the fence, but the police will likely question you if they see you.