Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Touring the Mojave Boneyard



Midway between Bakersfield and Adelanto lies the Mojave Air and Space Port, known for being the home of several experimental flying machines. But being in the desert, it also is used for aircraft storage as well as having a small boneyard where commercial airliners are scrapped or parted out.

At the main entrance off Bus. Hwy 58

Tours are available at 2:00 if the fueler (the person who conducts the tour is also the aircraft fueler) is available. You can't guarantee a tour in advance, and need a two-person minimum (six-person maximum), but I showed up an hour early and was fortunate that a family of four from Slovenia had already signed up.

The tour costs $5 and is conducted in a typical 6-seater passenger van. It lasts about 45 minutes with little commentary from the driver. There are glimpses of the experimental aircraft in hangars, but the cool part is driving around looking at old airplanes being taken apart. There are fuselages with one side removed, 747s resting on stacks of giant pallets, cockpits and tail sections scattered about, and old liveries that haven't been seen in a commercial airport in decades. Unfortunately, photos are not allowed, so you'll have to see for yourself, but it is really amazing if you enjoy airplanes.


The most fascinating discovery for me was a line of seven 767s that used to belong to Air Canada (above - pictures are allowed outside the airport). One of these was C-GAUN, also known as the Gimli Glider. In 1983, human error led to the underfueling of the plane and it ran out of fuel halfway to its destination. Despite having limited control, the pilots were able to land at Gimli Airport in one of the most impressive commercial aviation accomplishments. The plane was relatively undamaged and remained in service until 2008, when it was retired and flown to Mojave to be parted out. It's still there and is the one at the far right in the picture.

Given that it takes only two hours between Bakersfield and Adelanto, where the High Desert Mavericks play, Mojave is a perfect place to stop for a break if you happen to be seeing both those teams back-to-back.

Best,

Sean

This rocket is in front of the main office and restaurant


2 comments:

  1. Hi, This is super cool. How do we track down the fueler? Do we just go there and ask someone there? Any phone number or something we can arrange? Or just show up there? Thanks!

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  2. According to their site, they no longer offer tours but they have an open house of sorts one Saturday per month. You can get more info at mojaveairport.com.

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