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Exploring the Airplane Boneyard

Exploring satellite view on Google Maps while traveling as a copilot on a long road trip pays off.

It happened to be sunset on the highway when we passed a field of cranes, and I tried to look up what was up with the cranes. And saw this:

There was no way we couldn't stop and check this out.

We found a pipeline road, which led to an abandoned runway, which connected to a dirt road that led us to four decrepit and graffiti clad DC4 airplanes.

The whole scene seemed so surreal. Immediately upon opening the truck doors, a weird scent permeated our noses. It was from the bunches of bushes that surrounded the planes, specifically, their small, yellow ball shaped flowers. We later learned it was called Stinknet and is a invasive species of flower speckling the American southwest. The scent reminded me of something rotten, and added to the mysterious feeling of exploring these abandoned beasts, and also, my anxiety and awe.

I've always wanted to check out old or abandoned airplanes, and I couldn't believe this wish was coming true in the most odd of ways.

Here's a shot of the plane minus zombie vibes:

Photo by Barry Griffiths

After searching the internet, I found some photography of the planes in their earlier days.

Here's a shot by Colin Parker of one of the planes in the same place. He took this in November 2019.

Here is the same plane today in April 2023.

Another shot from from April 1999:

The same plane, April 2023:

Another from, this shot is from 2012:

My shot in April 2023:

It's wild to think that these planes have not moved for at least 24 years!

According to Wikipedia, these planes were introduced in 1941 and were produced through 1947.

So wild to see the skeletal mechanics of a propeller engine.

My heart was racing as I approached this one. Was a zombie waiting in there to eat me?

Old airplane guts!

24 years of sinking into the earth.

We later went inside the cockpit of this one - suspended in the air!

More insane propeller skeleton.

I asked Jack to venture inside with me, since we were losing light and I was pretty spooked and excited by this whole adventure.

What if someone was inside the plane, hiding, watching us the entire time?

The floor was rusting through and had some holes. We stepped lightly on our way towards the front.

Well, this one was empty except for very rusty controls in the cockpit.

We had almost no light. Jack turned on his phone flashlight, providing enough light for a decent exposure.

Was it the wind, or our weight that was making the tip of the plane sway ever so slightly?

Remembering that the tip of this plane was suspended in the air, and the other planes with their tips crumpled onto the ground, I suggested to Jack that maybe only one of us should be in the cockpit at a time.

We made our exit safely, with some photography that I was so excited to edit, and a place I couldn't wait to research.

And perhaps, return to.

Photo credits, in order of appearance:


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