Fly Me to the Moon – WIF Aviation

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Incredible Commercial

Aircraft We Might

See in the Future

Obviously any article dealing with ‘future’ anything is largely speculation. This is doubly true in an industry that, despite seeing plenty of technological breakthroughs over the years, hasn’t really changed much in all that time because major overhauls are rarely worth the cost to implement. Regardless of what type of engine or propulsion system the aircraft has, you check your bags, get screened, stand in line, sit in crowded coach seats with a TV, round window, fold out tray and peanuts, or you get a little more legroom and champagne in first class. Airlines are airlines, is the point, and they have been for decades.

But that hasn’t stopped people from dreaming bigger, developing better and faster ways to travel via air. And with the age of fossil fuels coming to an end, who’s to say some of these ideas won’t finally see the light of day when aircraft designs are overhauled? We’ve collected a handful of the coolest ever commercial airline trends of the future. So lock your tray in the upright position and let’s take off.

7. Electric Air

It’s probably not too surprising that very few of the ideas that’ll grace this list, or any similar one, will revolve around burning fossil fuels. Why would they? Burning gas and coal is effective but dirty and archaic, and the world is sprinting towards renewable, clean energy sources. And if electric cars are making a splash, there’s no reason to expect we won’t be seeing electric planes in the hopefully not too distant future.

Small electric motors, like those featured on NASA’s X-57 prototype, will allow even a large aircraft’s propulsion to be distributed across the structure of the plane. Not only does this minimize the impact of a potential engine failure, but reduced operational costs and noise levels will greatly expand the ability of aircraft to travel near places of business and residence. That might sound like a nice enough, but ultimately small, improvement over the airline status quo. But in reality, it could transform commercial air travel from what are essentially flying passenger ships to modest air taxis, transporting goods and people nearly to the doorstep of their destination.

6. Biofuel Planes

As is the case with cars, ships, trains, or any transportation, really, electric aircraft propulsion isn’t the only option we’ve got to combat greenhouse-emitting fossil fuel dependency. Furthermore, given the decades-long service life of most passenger jets and various other frustrating factors, it’ll be two to three decades before we’re able to fully transition away from gas powered planes and onto something more environmentally sustainable, even if we started building electric ones exclusively starting tomorrow.

While we wait for that change, though, and get our ducks in a row, replacing fossil fuels with biofuels (special combustible crops, or algae) would reduce airline carbon emissions by 35-85%. It’s still important to keep in mind that biofuel cost parity with current fossil fuel sources is still a decade or more out. But like we said, that’s roughly half the time it’ll take (at least) to transition fully to electric power, and you can’t hammer away at prohibitive costs while sitting around complaining about them. The planet can’t wait forever for us to take its health seriously, so more green airplane tech is a noble goal to aim for.

5. Automation

Here’s another trend we’re seeing everywhere: the replacement of humans with machines. The military realized a while back that sending robots to the battlefield is infinitely better than putting boots on the ground, and now we have missile-launching, remote piloted drones doing the work of jet fighter pilots. Commercial airline pilots aren’t exactly in much danger, but then again, neither are cashiers, lawyers, truck drivers, delivery men, shelf stockers or even hospital orderlies, all of whom are in danger of losing their jobs to an algorithm that doesn’t even know it exists but can still perform better, cheaper and longer than even the best human for the same job.

There’s no reason to think that if automated cars are rapidly approaching, we won’t see equivalent when it comes to air travel. As travel increases, so too will the demand for pilots (the current global 200,000 is roughly about a third of what experts predict we’ll need in the next two decades). Facing such looming personnel shortages, a new system that requires no training, sick days or paychecks looks appealing indeed.

4. Tailless “Flying Wings”

This basic design is hardly new (think the SR-71 Blackbird), but it never got off the ground as far as commercial useable when it was first introduced, largely because it featured amphitheater-style seating in which passengers would sit in long rows rather than columns which allowed for easier movement. Imagine having to use the bathroom when you’ve got 25 people on either side of you… “Excuse me. Pardon me. I’m so sorry. Don’t go back to sleep, I’ll be back in a minute. Pardon me, sorry.” But that’s fixable if you put your mind to it.

Now imagine the vast majority of aircraft passengers having no windows in such a design. Now that could be an issue, because the lack of visual references would result in dizziness and sickness. As if most commercial jets aren’t unpleasant enough. But with new electric engineering, the possibilities to replace the drab interior of an airliner with advanced screens are endless. You could project just about anything onto them. The easiest thing would be to simply let folks see what’s just outside. Imagine being surrounded by clouds during a flight, rather than having to observe them through a tiny window. That might seem unnecessary and pointlessly expensive, but tailless planes would eliminate the need for currently required elevators, rudders and, well, tails, all of which strangle maneuverability and add significant, fuel-burning drag.

3. Supersonic Travel

Speed. It’s the one, seemingly basic arena of commercial flight that’s gone backwards in recent decades, rather than forwards. The hook-nosed Concorde aircraft allowed for supersonic passenger jet travel as far back as the 1970s (its maiden flight was 1969), after all. But ballooning costs, frequent malfunctions and the unacceptability of sonic booms over metro areas forced airlines to mothball these and similar craft indefinitely. But not everyone gave up the dream.

Recognizing that costs are as much to blame for the lack of Jetsons-level society as inadequate technology, Silicon Valley startup Boom Supersonic has been working tirelessly to reintroduce faster-than-sound commercial air travel at lower costs. Other projects with similar ambitions are popping up, too, such as the still under development Aerion AS2. But even those quite literally deafeningly fast planes would be snacking on the dust of DLR’s suborbital hypersonic SpaceLiner, which could take you (at speeds in excess of Mach 25) from London to Sydney in an hour and a half. The availability of such rapid travel would revolutionize the planet in ways that are difficult to imagine.

2. Revolutionized Interiors

Not all airline-changing ideas have to do with aerodynamics, fuel efficiency or propulsion systems. One area that’s been in desperate need of overhaul for decades is the cramped, groan-inducing interiors of nearly every commercial passenger jet. There’s som variation in accommodations, but not much. Most are riffs on the same one or two lane design that stuffs miserable commuters shoulder to shoulder with about a half-inch of legroom and a bag of dry peanuts.

Luckily, Hamburg Aviation’s Crystal Cabin Awards aim to award anyone – please, anyone – who can design the next generation of airborne commuter comfort. The link above has no shortage of eye popping ideas. There’s Airbus’s winning submission, featuring spacious seating and an app that lets commuters order food, communicate with the crew and set lighting and temperature for their seats. AerQ also had a game changing idea, to do away with the class barriers that separate first and economy class seating and only serve to increase the claustrophobic conditions of spending several hours in a giant metal tube. Aident went in another direction entirely and straight up added a bed to the economy section. The ideas are out there, airlines. Assuming any of you survive the Covid-19 crisis, think about implementing one or two of them. For the sake of our knees and sanity.

1. Privatized Space Flight

Don’t expect to be on the moon in the next few years unless you’re already working for NASA. But in little but steady increments, private companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic are beginning to take the reigns of space flight from government funded giants the world over. Cost, of course, is and always has been the main issue. But only by diligently swinging away at those barriers can they ever be reduced. Right now, the cost of lifting cargo into orbit is plummeting. Again, it won’t be at levels where we can expect to head to the star port for a Thursday afternoon business meeting on a space station for quite some time. But it’s on exactly the trajectory we want it to be on.

Other advances have been made towards reusable rockets (as opposed to long-existing and current models where we have to dump the spent boosters into the ocean), and in low cost resupply runs to keep in-orbit craft fully stocked for the long haul. Investor seeding and government co tracts are currently the only way to keep the private space-minded giants funded. But hopefully sooner than we think, rich benefactors will be the first private passengers beyond the planets atmosphere. Their money will make further developments easier to reach, which will in turn drive down costs even more.


Fly Me to the Moon

WIF Aviation

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 149

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 149

…any time Strategic Air Command’s name is invoked, it does not mean that the USA is merely recalling their embassy personnel…

“The country would not stand for news of the McKinney deaths… they adore that couple,” President Sanchez makes a politically generic statement.

“This should have nothing to do with Time Magazine Online “Most Influential People” issue and everything to do with putting reprobate rulers in their place.” Roy moves to move the President of the United States of America into action. The man is stuck on how this latest development makes his administration look, instead of recognizing the threat to the welfare of the planet itself.

“Chances are Pete,” using his first name for effect, “that armchair diplomacy or economic sanctions will not work here.”

Sanchez should ask himself why, in retrospect, that the very same type of jealous admiration exhibited by Korea, were one and the same as his quest for the United States Senate, lo those many years ago. As a younger, more idealistic politician, Sanchez had practiced a suspicious mudslinging campaign against the incumbent Senator, in the primary election that year. And though Sanchez did not get the nomination and the other party ultimately won the general election, it ruined the man’s reputation unnecessarily.

It is a lesson for those who are lame ducks or out of favor; there may be someone or some country lurking, ready to ruin his legacy or bring down the entire nation he is ultimately responsible for.

“I guess we need to flex our muscles.”

“And forget about that gratuitous speech you are about to deliver,” Roy whispers under his breath. “And you know that we at NASA and SAC will be vigilant, Sir.”

No sooner than the phone goes dead, Roy wonders if the President meant yet another dreaded commodity embargo or economic isolation; neither of which work against those determined to make, in this case, outer space mischief.

Francine is privy to one side of the conversation, but any time Strategic Air Command’s name is invoked, it does not mean that the USA is merely recalling their embassy personnel. She is aware that stakes of the game have changed and she will have a front row seat to it all.

It is getting late at Lovell and making the trip home to Houston less desirable than usual, but in these times of fear and doubt, where better to spend the night but at King Ranch, “I’ll give Braden a heads up about an incoming Canadian-made helicopter with a Russian sounding name (Sikorsky) and two tired NASA people aboard,” she states.

Home is where the heart is; a tired old phrase with new meaning for Francine and Roy. Their days of freewheeling solitude are coming to an end; work like a dog, return to an empty apartment, check all social outlets, make sure the world hasn’t gone mad, grab a quick bite and do it all over again tomorrow.


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 129

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 129

…The Air Jamaica aircraft lifts up and away from the seaside airport, not being a very long flight, they barely get above 20,000 feet

20000 ft by Photojournalist Rdiger Nehmzow

Old Francine

“Do you possibly have an open seat somewhere — you know what I mean?” she points and whispers to a flight attendant, wanting to escape her sweaty human sandwich. “What is the holdup Miss?”

Old Francine would have thrown an absolute fit and shouted her way off the plane, accomplishing absolutely nothing except drawing undue attention to her disrespectful derrière.

New Francine

“We are under a security alert, something going on to the west, sort of like a red light in the sky.” A loaded passenger plane sitting on the taxiway for two hours is borderline cruel and unusual. “We just had a single window seat, 3A open up, why don’t we move you up?”

New Francine asks for the attendant’s name, “I will be writing a letter praising your service to Air Jamaica, thank you.”

Just after staking her claim at the front of the jet, the calming voice of the Captain fills the cabin, “Good afternoon passengers of Air Jamaica Flight 217 nonstop to Related imageHouston Texas. We will be taking off shortly and we thank you for your patience. The stewardesses will be handing out complimentary beverages.”

“If he weren’t the oldest pilot in the fleet, I would be offended.”

“At least he didn’t call you an airplane waitress…I’ll have a vodka rocks please,” Francine relates her similar story of having been introduced, early in her career, in a pre-sweeps station promo, as anchor-girl Francine Bushel.

The jet aircraft lifts up and away from the seaside airport. It is not a very long flight and they barely get above 20,000 feet, but the view from her window is nonstop fantastic, with Cuba fading into background of the azure Gulf-blue waters and the familiar soil and foliage of the Gulf Coast states rising to the north.

Like tiny islands, oil drinking platforms dot the water below, but one in particular seems to be the hub of activity. She reaches down to her carry-on to retrieve her trusty pair of field glasses, every good reporter has one, and gets a 20x power view of the action. She pulls back, rubs her eyes to make sure she isn’t seeing things, the one thing being the familiar blue & white paint scheme of Roy’s helicopter; blades idling, atop the one acre pedestal. There are a good thirty-odd people mulling about, many of whom belong to that huge Coast Guard cutter lashed to the side.


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 128

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 128

…“You take care Missy and if you don’t mind me saying, you would be wise to hitch your wagon to that astronaut guy.”

“He is something special isn’t he?”…

Image result for something special artwork

Who’s in that other chopper,” Gus points.

With everything secure, the unarmed aircraft settles down nearby.

“That is Uncle Roy’s Sikorsky, wow!” Deke McKinney is beside himself, both off and running into the arms of their joint Godfather.

“This is not the way home from school, boys,” Roy states the obvious.

“We’re the last ones on the bus and they nabbed us at the end of the driveway, nearly scared old Frank the bus driver half to death.”

“I’m sorry boys. We should have had some security for you two rascals.”

“Why would they grab two kids like us? The only thing we could understand, besides “shut up” was Allah this and Allah that”, what does god have to do with kidnapping?” Deke wonders

Roy parses his words, “Some people use their gods as a cause for mischief, especially those who are jealous of a unified planet.”

“That is dumb,!” Gus proclaims.

“Dumb.” echoes Deke

“Dumb,” and Roy makes three.

Not at all dumb and equally as patient, Francine sits on a crowded Air Jamaica jet, currently under an unexplained ground stop. She knows that Roy has his hands full, so she does not fret over her failing to receive desired updates. But it doesn’t help that she has drawn the short straw: middle seat between two overweight natives.

She is also fortunate that she still had a KHST Press credential when it came to poor Roger’s attempts to get all her stuff {luggage-purchases-Roy’s luggage} into the cargo bay in the belly of the MD-110. Once she was all set and ready to go, she shares her genuine feelings for Roger the Dodger. It has been a whirlwind term of service for the affable driver and his valuable flexibility has made her stay worth the price of admission. “You take care Missy and if you don’t mind me saying, you would be wise to hitch your wagon to that astronaut guy.”

“He is something special isn’t he?” She reflects on what is important in life. It is not Old Francine in control here, who would be sure to view Roy Crippen as a dull knife and dismissing him for anything but a great story source. “I believe we have an understanding, Rog. And we will be in touch, I promise.”


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 125

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 125

…Where are Gus and Deke headed now, or are you going to tell me they are dead, which caused Braden to have a coronary

Burning the Midnight Oil by Mick Dean

After Roger Rodrigues drops his passenger off at the Montego Bay airport, Roy is off and running across the tarmac to the hanger that houses his waiting Sikorsky, without waiting for that occasional luggage ferry. After pat-down customs check and a quick systems run-through, he is towed into open space and cleared for takeoff. At about 300 feet the fuselage turns toward a west-by-northwest direction and rising, coming to 180 MPH cruise speed posthaste.

Sikorsky S-92

After an hour of thinking that someone forgot to pay his satellite bill, his NASA device comes to life, this time with a face other than the Communication Director.

“Are you there Roy?” asks the new voice.

“I was wondering what was going on. Am I on the pay-no-mind-list or what?”

Silence… For the third time silence…”Braden King was taken to the GLC infirmary, he passed out cold.”

“I could tell he was struggling with something, but he is fit for a sixty-year-old.”

“He had a reason for dropping on & off…the McKinney boys were taken 65 minutes ago……….”

“Don’t tell me, by a f***ing Mi-38 Hind?”

“Oh so you knew?”

“A lucky guess. It seems to me that there is a base of those beggars, probably in one of those drug-states across the Rio Grande.” Roy thinks out loud, Where are Gus and Deke headed now, or are you going to tell me they are dead, which caused Braden to have a coronary?”

“They were flown out into the Gulf of The Americas and were apparently put on a boat or a drilling platform.”

“Which is it?”

“We aren’t sure, with all the fuss about that Samiq Gaad episode going on, we were distracted.”

“For God’s sake why can’t we defend our own territory anymore? I think we need a change in the White House... you did not hear me say that, or the fact that President Sanchez is too cozy with the country of his father & mother!”

Pedro “Pete” Sanchez is the first United States citizen {President} whose parents are not. The Hispanic majority had finally got its wish.

“I am going to buzz every oil rig from Cuba to Texas and you are going to let me know if Braden takes a turn.”

“Yes Sir.”


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 121

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 121

…“We’ve got a big problem Roy!” Braden King is on the phone with an update, “And to top off a perfectly wonderful day, Deke and Gus never made it to the bus that takes them home to King Ranch.”…

Image result for a problem artwork

Houston, We have a Problem by Dadara

Roy’s text stream reads a continuous, HOUSTON UNDER ATTACK!!!!!!….

The details of which are just coming in:

***   Samiq Gaad {alias Gurkhas Shah Dhangotma} freed before being transferred to Washington D.C. — Two Mil Mi-38 Hind Russian Attack Helicopters headed south out of Houston — Possibly on way to Central or South America ***

***   Aldona Afridi critically wounded on a flight to Galveston from Turkey — Shooter apprehended by US Marshall aboard ***

 “We’ve got a big problem Roy!” Braden King is on the phone. “An hour ago 2 helicopters and a small army attacked the motorcade that was transporting Samiq Gaad to the CIA office in Dallas. They were able to free Gaad and take off to God knows where.”

“Who is Samiq Gaad?”

“He is the imposter you captured back at Gantry #2, you know hero stuff? You knew him as Gurkhas Dhangotma.”

“At least they got that straightened out.”

“On top of that, your friend Aldona Afridi was ambushed in the washroom on a Turkish Airlines Airbus A2100 in the middle of the Atlantic last night. The latest news about that is sketchy, but he was on his way for an interview at Lovell SC and he is still alive.”

“I asked him to come to LVC… I didn’t think he would get security clearance so quickly,” Roy is starting to feel guilty about his absence.

“And to top off a perfectly wonderful day, Deke and Gus never made it to the bus that takes them home to King Ranch.”

“I am on my way back to Houston,” he tells Braden.

After a few minutes of texting back and forth with the NSA, some of which is sorting the known facts from the suppositions, Roy makes his best judgment call.

“I heard your end of the conversation, just go,” Francine can tell that their fairy tale has come to a screeching halt.

“Are you alright with staying here? I do not want you in the line fire again.”

“I’m a big girl, I’ll be alright here,” she grabs his chin to get his attention. “You better give me updates when you can. I am going to book a commercial flight back to my apartment in Houston, but you can bet that I’ll be working the story on my end and see if I can track down some leads.”

“I will keep you in the loop Francine,” he gives her a huge reassuring kiss. “Just remember, I have that job for you when get back, so be ready to rock!”


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 110

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 110

…“Let’s go!” She flashes her Miss Universe runner-up smile, gently nudging his throttle hand forward; the RPMs of the turboshaft engines match the beating of her heart, the 44 foot rotors, her spirit…

“This is KR 2022 requesting S-SE clearance for Jamaica.”

“You can liftoff after that AAL Jumbo heads out to Europe.”

Straight up, more or less, is less disruptive that conventional aviation.

“Any weather out there?”

“There is a Pacific Low wobbling over the Yucatan, but you are out ahead of it.” The controller salutes to the air, “There goes a real American Hero.”

Roy looks at his passenger, straight in the eye, “Let’s go!” She flashes her Miss Universe runner-up smile, gently nudging his throttle hand forward. The RPMs of the turboshaft engines match the beating of her heart, the 44 foot rotors, her spirit.

Destination: Montego Bay, Jamaica—

Houston sunrise

—Departing: Houston, Texas — The nimble aircraft is off the ground, ready to leave Houstonian airspace behind, but not before one last glimpse of what they are leaving behind.

Roy looks out to his left, across the early morning expanses of the Gulf of the Americas and the dimming lights of the Florida Panhandle. It is at Lovell Space Center that the bizarre story of Gurkhas Dhangotma, aka unknown is unfolding, with its veiled twists and unfinished suspense. No, he was not onsite himself to drill the intruder, but he knows he would only get in the way of fact-finding interrogators. By the time NASA security, the CIA, the FBI, and NSA get through with him, his government appointed lawyer may recommend suicide as a more desirable option… And then there is the New Mayflower.

For Francine, the sun’s fleeting reflection on Houston’s glass canyons provides a backdrop for the new life she would have to make for herself from this day forward. A cloudy past, littered with lofty ambition and vapid relationships, her career in television up in the air and her mock engagement to a management stiff mercifully dashed… and then there are her near-term prospects.


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Related image

She’s Looking Forward by Steffanie Lorig

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 109

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 109

“Did  your mother give her blessing?”

“No, she was wondering if I kidnapped you...

Related image

The Abduction Of Helen Wife – King Menelaus of Sparta by Gavin Hamilton (1723-1798)

whirlybirdIf there was any doubt about what she was about to do, they vanish when Roy escorts Francine up the three stairs into the 2015 whirlybird, his strong yet tender handling of her hand has that reassuring feeling.

The inside of the general aviation chopper is very well appointed, more akin to a Fortune 500 corporate bird than puddle jumper. “You travel well sir.”

“When you see my apartment, it will go a long way to explain this helicopter…and that little baby over there,” he points to his Learjet in the corner. “The jet is waiting for new tires.”

“There is more to Roy Crippen than meets the eye. So how many other girls have flown in this machine?”

“I don’t know about the previous owner, a pharmaceutical company I believe, but you are the only real female friend I’ve allowed to ride along.”

“The only real female? I don’t see a mannequin around anywhere, like the dummies put in the passenger seats of their car to ride in the commuter lane, freaky.”

“My Mother is a female and I fly her into Wesley Wood Geriatric in Atlanta for her check-ups. And by the by, I had to tell her where I was going and with who. She wanted to know how I met you, until I mentioned your name and she about fainted.”

“Did she give her blessing?”

“No she was wondering if I kidnapped you. Of course when I told her about a three week Jamaican holiday, she got the hint.”sticky-note-001

What had started as a seven day getaway has ballooned to three week hiatus. —

— After strapping themselves in and being pulled out onto the helipad, the pilot makes one final check of the gauges.

“Don’t forget to check the four-axis autopilot circuit,” Francine comments.

 Now that is something you don’t hear a television anchor say every day. “How about the Mode C transponder?”

Related image

“No, I believe when you squawk the tower it should reset itself.”

“How do you know these things Missy,” he has to ask?

“I am taking flying lessons out at Sugarland/Hull Airport.”

“I’ve been out there on Rt. 59. Lots of airspace,” he confirms.

Tune in tomorrowStay tuned-001


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 108

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 108

…there is nothing but 1350 miles of 80 degree bath-water between Houston and Montego Bay – rest stops and dry land are few

montego-bay-port-jeffrey-samuels

Montego Bay Port by Jeffrey Samuels

— True to his word and happy to do so, Roy and his limo cruise into Hobby (Airport), with one worn-out Samsonite suitcase and a pocket full of American cash.

Tucked away in an obscure corner hanger, at the far end of the airport’s least used taxiway, sits Roy’s expensive toy: a vintage Sikorsky S-76D.

And never mind that 30 year old Learjet sitting next to it. He does not own an automobile, too slow.

Francine pulls up to the open hanger door in a Cooper Mini Taxi whose tail is dragging from the weight of her bags. Roy is busy talking to his hanger’s mechanic about the critical pre-flight inspection. With nothing but 1350 miles of 80 degree bath-water between them and Montego Bay, rest stops and dry land are few. And with Cuba still stuck in the political Cold War, it is not an alternate landing spot.

It is a brisk late January, where 50 above zero winds do chill those with Southern roots. Not the sort of weather for wide-brimmed plantation hats or a sundress, which is exactly what Francine is wearing. She fights to keep the mid-calf hem below her waist.ouch-001

Roy catches a glimpse, peaking from under an engine, dropping an extra-large crescent wrench on his foot.

“Come in and get out that darn wind,” he insists while hobbling on one good foot. “I see that you dressed for the destination.”

“86 degrees with a chance of clouds, yep. The Chief Meteorologist at Channel 13 gave me my farewell forecast, the 14-day outlook, is that far enough out?”

“We’ll see. If Braden and the Colony-Incident Audit come up with something on Korea and Talibanistan, I may have to bail early,” he takes a shop rag to his hands, handing the wrench to the hanger mechanic. “You look fantastic… and me in a pair of coveralls.”

“I love a man who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty,” she may be speaking euphemistically about ex- fiancée (Larry).mr-silly-001

“Didn’t you bring any luggage; a month is a long time you know.”

Silly, silly unsuspecting man. Francine’s taxi backs up to the hanger door. “Where is the skycap?”

“This thing usually seats 12, but I took out seats and replaced them with fuel reserves that triple its range, so I will need to turn away any other passengers…and you will need to sit in the copilot’s seat.”

“Isn’t that secretary of yours coming along?” It would not be farfetched for that platinum blankety-blank to implicate herself.

“Are you kidding? I may be impulsive, but stupid I am not.”


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Where Airplanes Go to Die – WIF Aviation

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 Airplane BoneYards

From Around

the World

Illustration by Tad Butler

Every once in a while when you’re driving down the street you’ll see one of those houses that has an old, rusted out car parked out front that looks like nature is slowly reclaiming it. Most major cities have at least one scrap yard somewhere too that’s just wall to wall old cars. And even though we don’t think about it often, the same thing has to be true for airplanes. Airplane boneyards are those massive lots that are set aside for defunct aircraft that are either waiting to be recycled or just waiting to waste away. Here are 10 of the biggest in the world.

10. Alice Springs, Australia

In March of 2019, airlines around the world grounded their fleets of Boeing 737 Max 8s after the second deadly crash involving the plane. Alice Springs, Australia, officially the largest boneyard in Australia and one of the largest in the world, became home to many of these unwanted Boeing monsters from across Asia. The owner, a man working on his own pilot’s license at the time, thought it would be a good business decision to set up a boneyard in the arid climate of the Australian Outback with all that empty space sitting around.

Because the climate in the Australian Outback is dry, it’s more well suited to storing these multimillion-dollar planes than their home countries, which may have much higher humidity an annual rainfall.

Though there are numerous planes stored at the Alice Springs facility, the owner is hesitant to use the word graveyard since craft like the Max 8s all potentially could be reactivated at some point in time. The technology isn’t defunct so much as it’s been back-burnered.

9. Southern California Logistics Airport

Ninety miles northeast of Los Angeles you’ll find the Southern California Logistics Airport which is home to the former George Air Force Base. George was opened as an advanced flying school by the Army Air Corps back in 1941. After the military no longer needed the base, the Logistics Airport took over as the town where it’s located, Victorville, California, is one of the most important transportation hubs in the state (60% of all goods that come in and out of Southern California have to go through Victorville).

While the logistics airport currently serves a number of airlines for their logistical needs, it also does have the boneyard on site as well for numerous defunct aircraft. Today, aside from its facilities that maintain and even paint aircraft for airlines and companies around the world, the boneyard also has a massive collection of 747s. In fact, just like Alice Springs in Australia is home to a number of those Boeing 747 Max 8 from Asia, the American fleet were retired to the Southern California Logistics Airport.

8. Teruel Airport

One of the largest boneyards in Europe is Teruel Airport, located in Spain. Though some of the aircraft in residence at Teruel are not necessarily on the junk pile and are intended to once again fly, a good number of the relics here are the remains of defunct airlines from Russia and other countries throughout Europe. When the fleets are retired they get sent here because it’s much closer than sending them to any of the big boneyards in the USA.

Teruel isn’t just home to an airplane graveyard, either. They also test rocket engines here, as well as drones, and they do flight training. It’s not a commercial airport that you can fly into nor is it a military facility, but they are making strides to make sure that Teruel is important for any other aviation-related activities that are needed in Europe.

Because so many of the planes located in Teruel are there because they’re the leftovers from bankrupted airlines there’s a good chance that a lot of these could be picked up and reused further down the road. But it’s just as likely that many of them are going to be resting in this arid Spanish climate until they’re stripped down for parts and completely forgotten.

7. Air Salvage International

Air Salvage International used to be a military base in Gloucestershire in England. These days they run salvage operations and can strip down 60 massive aircraft at a time over the course of a year for recycling. Word is that they also had some interesting discoveries in their line of work as well, including several million dollars worth of cocaine shoved in an airplane toilet. How somebody forgot about that is anyone’s guess.

A graveyard in the truest sense, this is where these massive planes go to die and get stripped down to their base components. The crew running this operation can get nearly 2,000 usable parts from any given plane. An airplane engine alone could be worth upwards of £18 million. That works out to over $22 million in the US. Not too shabby for a scrap operation.

Because the job of the people who work at Air Salvage is to actually salvage these planes, their graveyard never really gets above that 60 plane mark. That’s because they’re going to be tearing them apart on a regular basis so for every one that comes in another one’s going out in pieces. They’ve been doing this for about two decades now and it sounds like it’s a fairly lucrative operation. While some graveyards get to be interesting reliquaries that invite aviation enthusiasts to come and take a look, Air Salvage International only keeps them around as long as they need to.

6. Phoenix Goodyear

Not too far from Phoenix, Arizona, just a bit south of Interstate 10, you’ll find the Phoenix Goodyear airport and boneyard. The airport is still a world-class training facility where pilots from all around the world come to train, both from commercial and military backgrounds. The one-time desert-based Naval facility is now a place where you can find German Air Force pilots training alongside British Airways pilots.

Because the site has been used as both a military and a commercial airport and training facility over the years, and ownership of the aircraft has changed hands a few times, the result is that today there’s just an eclectic mix of planes sitting around. You can find China Southern 777s, Continental 737s, and even an Iberia Fleet Airbus A340 among many others.

Even though the associated airport is still in use, the boneyard itself isn’t actually open to the public. Of course, it doesn’t stop anyone from visiting the area and being able to get a good look since it’s all out in the open, where you can see it from nearby. Just don’t expect to get a guided tour through the facility.

5. Kingman Airport

Arizona is the place to be when you want to keep aircraft in good condition because the climate is perfect for preserving technology and metal. That’s why Arizona’s Kingman Airport is home to a substantial military aircraft graveyard situated on 4,145 acres of desert land. Unlike some boneyards, you can’t actually go and visit this one in person, at least not up close and personal. That said, because Route 66 runs right alongside the graveyard, if you’re an industrious sort who has a good zoom lens on your camera you can just park on the other side of the fence and snap off some photos if you’re into that sort of thing.

Kingman is home to several hundred aircraft, generally regional ones that haven’t been deemed necessary to ship to the larger Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, as well as a noteworthy collection of DC-8s. Kingman used to be a salvage yard and nearly 5,500 planes have been scrapped there over the years. When they were salvaging planes during the Second World War here, they would strip off every useful part and then smelt down the metal. The furnace is used to run 24 hours a day and they could get through 35 planes in that 24-hour period. Over $7.5 million worth of aluminum, steel and other materials were salvaged at Kingman back in the day.

4. Mojave Desert Boneyard

Located near the Mojave Spaceport, the Mojave Desert aircraft graveyard is home to some massive airliners and has been building its collection since the 1970s. Whereas many of the larger aircraft boneyards are reserved for military aircraft, the Mojave facility has over 1,000 commercial aircraft on site mixed with a handful of military craft.

You can find a collection of turboprops and t-tails here as well as the much more massive 747s and DC-10s. Unfortunately, this is another one of the locations that doesn’t actually take you on guided tours through the facility but they will at least let you know where you can drive to get the best look from a distance at what they have available. Why aren’t you allowed in here? Well, the Mojave Air and Spaceport is still used by upwards of 60 different companies that have a vested interest in the aeronautics industry including Virgin Galactic, ASB Avionics, Orbital ATK, and the National Test Pilot School. It’s even the first facility in the US that was designed for horizontal launches of reusable spacecraft.

You can find aircraft from Boeing, Lockheed, McDonnell Douglas, Airbus and others along with planes from airlines that no longer exist anymore including Pan Am, Northwest and TWA in the boneyard.

3. Central Air Force Museum Russia

In 2015 we got a glimpse of the Central Air Force Museum in Russia thanks to a flyby with a drone. The footage showed off a sizable collection of defunct Soviet-era aircraft that were all neatly lined up and in very impressive condition. There are over 170 planes at the museum, as well as over 120 engines that you can check out if you go for a visit.

Because it’s a museum, it is open to the public, although that is a fairly recent thing. Prior to 2001, it was closed entirely because there were actually experimental aircraft on site, and from 2001 through 2006 you needed to have special permits to visit. As of 2006, the site has been open to everyone. The planes at the museum detail Russia’s entire aviation history, going all the way back to the year 1909.

2. Manas International Airport

Located in Bishkek Kyrgyzstan, the Manas International Airport graveyard is home to some relics of the Soviet Air Force. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, a good 60 aircraft were transported to this graveyard, including prop planes and helicopters. Unfortunately, either because of the nature of the Soviet mystique or just because the Manas Airport administrators they’re not super big on tourism, this isn’t a place that you can actually visit.

If you do happen to fly into Manas Airport or have it as a stop on your way somewhere else, there’s always a chance you could grab a cab and drive by the graveyard but it’s not a place that you can tour.

1. Davis-Monthan Air Force Base

Head to Tucson, Arizona to a place called the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and you’ll discover the most massive aircraft boneyard on the face of the Earth. There are over 4,000 military aircraft and even ballistic missiles parked out in the desert here, just baking in the dry Arizona sun waiting for something to happen.

For decades now, the US military has been consolidating their old, unneeded aircraft at the Davis-Monthan Boneyard. There’s technology that stretches back to the Second World War parked on the gentle alkali sands. By 1946 there were over 600 B-29 Superfortress’ parked in this graveyard. And if you’re the kind of person who enjoys checking this out, they’re kind enough to give you a guided tour if you want to take the time to drive through the desert about 11-miles from the Tucson International Airport.

How did this become the go-to spot for thousands of planes? You can thank the annual rainfall of less than one foot and a relative humidity between 10 and 20%, which ensures that rust tends to stay away for a very long time.


Where Airplanes Go to Die

WIF Aviation