Tag Archives: stored

A-4 and F-8 Airframes Aren’t Going Anywhere

Arizona is packed with old airframes.  You can go to any number of airports and find some old military aircraft stacked up in spare locations.  Marana Regional Airport is a great example.  Wander along the fence of the airport by the road and you come across a bunch of A-4 Skyhawks and F-8 Crusaders tucked away.  The weather is ideal for preserving an airframe and they look like they are in great condition.  No idea what state they were in when they arrived and what bits are missing but they do look like they could be so close to being useful even if they are really never going to move again.  Oh to see a Crusader or two back in action.

Elwha Looks Rough in Storage

After a trip out one weekend, we were heading home and waiting for the ferry at Kingston.  We had a bit of time before our ferry was due in, so I was stretching my legs around the terminal.  To one side of the main loading ramps, an old ferry was in storage.  This is the Elwha.  Apparently, after a large amount of corrosion issues were identified, it was decided to retire the ferry rather than repair it.  It was laid up in Kingston and I don’t know what the future holds for it.

I think it must have been sitting there for a while now.  The name has been painted over but far more conspicuously, the sides of the ship are looking really scruffy.  One end of the upper superstructure must be in the shade most of the time as it has developed a lot of lichen growth.  It looks like it could have quite an ecosystem developing there.  I imagine there will be a plan for disposal at some point but, until that time, I wonder just how it will end up looking.

End of the Line at Abbotsford

My first trip to Abbotsford for the airshow got me there pretty early.  I was hanging around prior to meeting up with my friend and I saw a couple of old S-2 Trackers that were sitting in a field.  These were clearly waterbombers in days gone by but they have reached the end of the road as far as their flying career is concerned.  I understand that they were due to be heading off soon.  I was glad to see them before they went.  Seeing them flying would have been better of course.

Bulgarian L39

I was doing a favor for a guy I know back from Chicago.  He is researching Bulgarian aircraft that have found their way to the US and one of the planes he was interested in is an L39 Albatros that lives up at not too far from me.  I went up to meet with the owner and get copies of the aircraft documentation.  When I was done, he offered to take me to have a look at the plane in his hangar.  It is a lovely looking jet.  It was in amongst a bunch of other stuff in the hangar which made getting nice shots of it a little tricky, but it was still good to get shots of it.

End of the Line for These Jets

I have posted a few shots of preserved aircraft at Kemble, but Cotswold Airport is the end of the line for a lot of planes in a far less graceful way.  It is the base for disassembly of airframes that have reached the end of their operational lives.  A jet doesn’t have to be that old to have greater value in its parts than as an operational aircraft.  If a major check is coming up and it isn’t worth that much post check, it might be worth it to the owner to have it broken down for spares.  As airframes get older, this decision is more obvious.

Kemble is the location where a lot of this happens.  From the airfield or from the road that passes by, you can see a line up of aircraft that are unlikely to ever fly again.  They will be progressively stripped of their most valuable parts.  They may hang around like this for a long time with bits being gradually taken off as they are demanded by other operators.  Eventually, there will be little left of value and the scrap metal will become the most valuable thing that they have to offer.  Then they will be cut up.  It is a safe process for an aviation enthusiast but a normal part of the life cycle of an aircraft.  If you are in the area, head by to see what is there.

Phantoms in Pieces

When I was first into aviation, the Phantom was everywhere.  It was operated by numerous air forces and the RAF had tons of them (including some that had cascaded from the Royal Navy).  At all of my early air shows, there would be Phantoms on static and part of the flying display.  While they had started their RAF career in the strike and ground attack role, by this time they were purely used for air defense.

With the end of the Cold War, the RAF reduced in size and the Phantoms were withdrawn from service far faster than had originally been anticipated.  It wasn’t long before they were all gone.  A bunch ended up in museums and the rest were cut up.  As I was exploring Kemble’s airfield – Cotswold Airport to give it its proper name – I was surprised to come across a bunch of bits of Phantoms alongside the road.  A pair of fuselages including one of a Boscombe test jet that I had a kit of as a kid, some wings, fins and tail planes.  It was all just sitting there so I grabbed a few shots.  I have heard since that the airport was pressuring the owners to cover it all properly and I think it all went under cover shortly after I was there.  A lucky break for me, I guess.

What A Difference A Few Minutes Makes

Paine Field is getting rather full of spare 777X airframes.  They are getting stored in all sorts of locations and a recent spot for them is alongside the main assembly building at the north end of the field.  I was using the long lens and so, rather than change lenses, I shot a few images to make a pano.  It was a little dull but more of a record shot.  A few minutes passed by the the clouds behind me had moved on and the light on the airframes had improved significantly.  I reshot the scene before it changed again.  Looking at the two shots, it is hard to believe that they were only a few minutes apart.  What an impact a change in lighting can bring to a shot.

This Is Not What You Expect To Find in Washington

I was doing a favor for a friend from the Midwest a little while back that involved visiting someone north of Seattle who owned a jet that the friend was interested in researching.  The documentation was the main reason for the visit, but we also took a trip to his hangar to see the jet.  While we were there, he showed me another jet that he has.  If you go to a random hangar in Washington, are you expecting to find a pristine MiG-23?  He had told me he had it so it wasn’t a surprise at that point, but it was in excellent condition.  It hasn’t been re-assembled since it arrived, so the wings are off and the engine is out.  However, it was freshly overhauled before he took possession, and the engine has zero time since overhaul too.

Tucked alongside it in the hangar are the various parts that are removed.  I don’t know the status of any of the weaponry, but I am told it has no hindrance to being made airworthy again.  He has no interest in doing that and I don’t think he has any plans to dispose of it so it may sit there for a while yet.  MiG-23s are impressive jets when airborne and I would love to see this one fly again.  The engine is huge and the only time I saw one fly a display at RIAT many years ago, the plume of the afterburner made quite the impression.  Maybe one day…

Gulfstream Graveyard

I had seen photos from the visits people had made to the airport in California City that showed a lot of old business jet airframes in storage.  I was curious to see this place myself and so headed up there when I had some time one evening.  There is a local business that takes old jets – principally Gulfstreams – and strips them for any components that will be useful in the secondary market.  The owner of the place is welcoming to visitors and a friend was actually already there when I arrived.  A little while later after sorting out issues with the gate opening, I was inside and free to roam around.

There are so many jets, it is hard to know where to start.  Some of them are basically intact while others have had substantial elements removed.  Sides of the fuselage might be cut out, gear may have been removed and engines are definitely a valuable commodity.  Some of the control surfaces will have found a second life supporting an airworthy jet.  Older generation jets like the G-II and G-III are represented but the G-IV is now knocking on a bit and so there are quite a few of those too.  Some very old jets are scattered in amongst the carcasses including one that had been used as a military testbed.

The planes are squeezed in to all available spaces.  As you walk around, you have to pay a lot of attention to make sure you don’t trip over anything or smack your head on part of an airframe.  Also good to try and avoid getting in the shots of other photographers!  I didn’t see any hazardous wildlife which helped make the walking around a little easier.

While most airframes were Gulfstreams, there were occasional exceptions.  I came across a really old HS125.  It was from the days of Viper engines so definitely an old one.  It didn’t look to be in great condition but the dry desert air means that they survive pretty well for a long time.

Argosy Still Hanging On

I bumped into a guy I had met before while at Fox Field outside Lancaster CA.  He had just arranged a ride out on to the ramp with one of the airport staff and invited me to come along.  One of the old airframes stored at Fox Field, near the air tanker ramp, is an old Armstrong Whitworth Argosy.  I have no idea of the history of this airframe and how it ended up here but here it is.  We were free to wander around and get some shots of it.

I understand it has been at Fox Field for a long time.  It isn’t going anywhere in a hurry but, courtesy of the dry climate, it is only decaying slowly.  I have no idea how long it will be before it becomes unsafe to have around any longer but I imagine it will be a while.  Definitely an unusual aircraft to get to shoot these days.