History and Future of the Boeing 747 Jumbo Plane
, 2023-03-17 19:29:49,
They call it the airplane boneyard, where once high-flying craft are dropped off when they’re no longer needed, temporarily out of service, in need of refurbishing, or marked for cannibalization of their parts (RIP). These spaces must be arid and dry, conditions conducive to preserving big metal things. Therefore, long-term aviation parking lots are typically found in deserts—in the US, that usually means the Southwest.
Near Tucson, Arizona, Pinal Airpark pulls double duty as both a boneyard and an airport. Here, commercial planes interlock in rows, dormant, while on the single runway their smaller brethren fly off to explore new horizons. The largest commercial boneyard in the world (during the pandemic, when planes were grounded, the number of occupants ballooned from 89 to 400), Pinal Airpark comes with some serious history: During the Vietnam War, it functioned as the base for CIA front company Intermountain Airlines, now famous for their covert operations in Southeast Asia. Today, visitors can peer at the resident airplanes from outside the chain link fence or, even better, hop on a grounds tour —just call or email to make an appointment.
There’s some recent history around these parts, too. Parked in the Pinal Airpark, among the sleeping Cessnas and whatnot, are a couple of worn Boeing 747-400s dating to 1991. Painted white with a stark red stripe,…
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