10 Most Incredible Airplane Graveyards on Earth

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Image: Troy Paiva

A 1940s Lockheed Harpoon at the Aviation Warehouse

All images used with permission of their respective photographers

A slight creaking noise can be heard above the gentle gusts of desert wind. Is it a propeller moving? Or perhaps the door to a cockpit not quite shut? Amidst the rigid or even skeletal remains of old commercial and military airplanes, footprints in the dust mark the routes taken by those who have explored these strange vehicular graveyards. With little more than the pale moon or pounding sun as their companion, these explorers have attempted to unearth secrets that lie dormant in and among the carcasses of battered and gradually decaying old planes.


Image: Troy Paiva

A Boeing 747 husk at the Aviation Warehouse

Airplane boneyards – not the easiest of sites to access at the best of times – have become even more tightly guarded since the events of 9/11. Luckily for us, there are some photographers who gained access to the graveyards before it became so difficult in the US, and who’ve taken some incredible photographs of the grounded and lifeless giants that lie therein.

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Image: Chris Luckhardt Photography

America has seen its airplane graveyards swell and then slowly ebb in size in various waves as the retired aircraft are sold, recycled or scrapped: first, following WWII, when the military downsized its number of planes while developing its technology; and later, in the late 1960s and early ‘70s as commercial airliners became jet-powered. The oil crisis of 1974, airline deregulation of the early ‘80s, and the 1991 Gulf War all saw the boneyards fill up too, while 9/11 had a notable recent impact, as whole fleets were packed off to the desert.

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