Airline Graveyards

Where do old planes go when they die?

Those that haven’t plummeted to the earth in an explosive fireball are literally put out to pasture-in the desert. 

Joe Sharkey of the New York Times reports on a somberly impressive Airline Graveyard just outside of Tucson, Arizona where more than 300 decommissioned planes lie mothballed and baking in the sun.   Many have been truly retired, never to fly again, while others are simply the victims of the post 9-11 travel slump-temporarily grounded and awaiting their return to the skies. 

The disheartening array of civilian aircraft, parked in neat rows across the desert landscape, encompasses the history of commercial air travel for the last 50 years-DC-8’s, DC-10’s, Boeing 737’s, 747’s, 757’s 767’s, as well as Airbus A300’s and A310’s.

Unfortunately, the Evergreen Air Center at Pinal Air Park, where the planes are kept, is not open to the public.  But, if the area is anything like the enormous airline graveyard in the Mojave Desert, one can easily drive by-as I’ve done many times on the way to Mammoth Mountain-and check it out from a distance.  It is still truly an impressive, and indeed, somber sight.