Have you ever wondered what happens to an aircraft once it has served out its usefulness? Many obsolete planes find their final resting spots in an airplane graveyard, where they sit dejectedly among their fellow former flying brethren. Lots of them are still technically airworthy, but they are parked in the desert or some out-of-the-way place due to a slump in demand, waiting for an aviation uptick and their chance to soar again. Some are dismantled for scrap metal or cannibalized for spare parts. These fleets of abandoned behemoths make for some rather haunting yet beautiful images.
1. Aerospace Maintenance And Regeneration Group (AMARG), Arizona
The largest airplane graveyard is in Tuscon, where the dry, arid Arizona desert keeps rust and corrosion at a minimum. Many of the 4,400 planes in this storage and maintenance facility are recommissioned or repurposed, but others just remain as a relic to their former glory. The place is nicknamed “The Boneyard” and an aerial view from above looks particularly striking.
2. Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona
AMARG is part of Davis-Monthan AFB, where hundreds of vintage military planes sit in silence. Since 1946, it was used to house old planes from World War II. The last plane to leave Saigon as it fell rests alongside disassembled Cold War bombers.
3. Alice Springs Airport, Australia
The “Red Center” of Australia’s Northern Territory is about as dry as it gets, providing perfect conditions for big metal objects to hang out without much deterioration. The is the first large-scale aircraft storage, preservation and graveyard facility outside the United States, and it focuses primarily on Asia-Pacific carriers.
4. Roswell International Air Center, New Mexico
See if you can spot any abandoned spacecraft in amongst the parked airplanes in limbo at this Roswell graveyard. This facility is where the crashed UFO was apparently taken for analysis in 1947, at least according to some conspiracy theorists.
5. RAF Shawbury, Shrewsbury, Shropshire
This former Royal Flying Corps airfield dates back to WWI and now serves primarily as a storage depot for grounded obsolete aircraft. In March 1994, Blackburn Buccaneer subsonic strike jets were retired from Royal Air Force service. Some of these two-seater bombers are on display at aviation museums around the world, but many have come to this Shrewsbury facility to be stripped and recycled, mere ghosts of their former glory.
6. Southern California Logistics Airport, California
Where do commercial planes rest in peace? Many of them end up in the desert, including this one near Victorville, about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles. Lots of old jumbos are spending their retirement years here.
7. Mojave Air and Space Port
About 1000 commercial airlines are mothballed at this Civilian Aerospace Test Center. At an elevation of 2,791 feet and in the heart of the Mojave desert means conditions are ideal for parking these used birds. Boeing, Airbus, McDonnell Douglas and Lockheed planes from many major airlines are stored and scrapped here.
8. Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Nigeria
The Lagos airport has an adjacent field that is littered with the carcasses of old planes from failed airlines. Most are dilapidated and have been picked apart for scrap.
9. Phoenix Goodyear Airport, Arizona
Here is a row of American Airlines DC-10s at the end of their life cycle, sitting side by side in the arid Arizona desert awaiting their ultimate fate. There’s almost an artistic sculptural quality to their formation.
10. Manas International Airport, Kyrgyzstan
Since 1991, this boneyard in Bishkek has hosted lots of disbanded Soviet relics, including some Aeroflot Tu-134 aircraft.
11. Khodynka Aerodrome, Russia
Moscow’s former Khodynka Aerodrome (the birthplace of Russian aviation) is littered with 20-odd rotting relics and decaying war-birds from a bygone era, remnants of an abandoned museum. Juxtaposed with modern Moscow, these rusty shells have a rather eerie yet captivating quality.