Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Left for dead, or maybe just for scrap.








The post about my trip to Lake Havasu and how a former airport was converted to other uses got me to thinking about another potential post.  I like to see how things change over time, but how there might still be a remnant of what once was.  There's a coffee shop in my neighborhood that has photos of local area back in the 20s and 30s when it was being built.  It's fun to see these historical references, but it can be a little sad when something iconic is now gone.  While the land near Lake Havasu that had once been an airstrip on the Colorado River was now a bunch of homes, there were indications that an old runway had once been there- a strip of pavement, and some chipped and faded paint indicating a taxiway and runway numbers.  I'm sure there are dozens if not hundreds of these former military airfields out there so I started to do some digging.  A simple Google search proved me right, there are a lot.  And while the leftover parts and pieces of airports might be interesting, this is somewhat a blog about airplanes, even abandoned ones, and not airfields.  Hence today's photo-exposé.

  The intact corpse of an A-4 Skyhawk at a former outlying field for Kingsville NAS in Texas.       Source

A not so nice day at the beach.

Beechcraft Expeditor in the Nevada desert                                       Pinterest    

Corsair II looking more like a slug

Vought F7U Cutlass- part of asomeone's morbid  collection on a farm in Newbury Ohio.             Source

Shh.  Be vewy quiet.  We're hunting Drakens.  This one left in a Finnish forest.                 Source

Hellenic Mirage 2000 which crashed in 2011.  Or maybe it just wanted to go for a swim.            Source

MiG-15 Fagots left abandoned at Kuçovë airbase in Albania                               Source
There is no shortage of photos of abandoned airplanes left in Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union after the wall came down.  We have AMARC where our jets will be sold for scrap, but I guess no such organization exists in Russia.

Su-15 Flagon left at an abandoned airfield in Ugolny Siberia                                    Source

Either the Russians were good at making things from photographs, or they were robbing us blind.
British SeaHarriers in Arizona

An S-2 Tracker.  One of many left to rot in St. Augustine Florida                                                Source
The Saab Draken makes a decent lawn ornament


The Boeing 737- the pride of the fleet for Nigerian Airways
(Correction- it's an Airbus A320- H/t to Rivetjoint)

Sarge could probably salvage some electronics out of this old girl.

A PBY Catalina on the shores of Saudi Arabia.  Featured here before.

"Hey Chief, I think she's a comer!"
There is really no shortage of photos like the ones here.  I suppose photogs like taking shots like these.  Read the following from the guy who took the Stoof pics and try not to vomit:
"My mind raced with possibilities for the countless amazing shots inside these planes. This was my heaven, these are the photo ops that I live for! The beautiful contrast of industrial, man made decay juxtaposed against the slow progression of nature taking over." 

Ok, you took some pictures of some rusty scrap metal.  Don't be so over dramatic.  Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to find amazing shots of former airstrips which have lost their glory and are now fading into nature's oblivion.





27 comments:

  1. I am surprised the Navy just left an A-4 at the field when they left...wonder what stories it has?

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    1. As I recall, the A-4 was the first aircraft able to lift more payload (including fuel) than its own weight, thanks to a design team that trimmed every unnecessary pound from the airframe. I consider it to be what our combat aircraft should be but usually are not: simple, cheap, tough, agile, flexible.

      It was one of the last carrier aircraft without folding wings, saving hundreds of pounds in weight. The high intakes reduced FOD (foreign object damage). It was low-maintenance and could operate from not-so-great You had good visibility, improved in the late models with a larger cockpit and canopy. It had good range. It had more bomb-carrying capacity than the F-4 (admittedly, the F-4 was designed as a fleet-defense interceptor, not a bomber, so its design philosophy was different). Finally, it was a single-engine jet, which vastly reduced maintenance overhead. The Navy doesn't like single-engine planes, preferring a "backup" engine, but today's engines are so reliable that the second engine can actually act as a burden, as we see with today's low crash rates.

      It wasn't perfect. It was a little slow, which made it vulnerable to ground fire, and the cockpit was pretty tight, especially in the early models. It first flew in 1954, meaning the technology was limited, although adds were made with avionics packs built into the top of the fuselage. Even so, it made a lot of use of not much. When the Navy decided that the F-4 wasn't the best plane for the Blue Angels (duh!) the A-4 replaced it, itself being eventually replaced by the F/A-18.

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    2. The canopy is blue which makes me think it was a static display aircraft possibly- pig on a stick as I've heard it called.

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    3. Errata on my prior comment, paragraph 2: "It was low-maintenance and could operate from not-so-great..." add "fields and WWII-era carriers."

      Re single-engine vs. twin-engine: Change "The Navy doesn't like single-engine planes..." to read "...but today's engines are highly reliable, as we see with today's low crash rates. The Navy's preference for a backup engine can actually act as a burden, more than doubling maintenance overhead. In the ten-plus years I worked on F-16s, I can't remember losing a jet due to engine problems, even at Incirlik, Turkey, where bird strikes (cranes, usually) seemed to happen daily during our deployments."

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  2. You could be the owner of the 737, just send them enough money to pay the ground crew then the Prince will fly it to the US for you.. ...

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  3. I discovered and photographed the Stoof graveyard in St. Augustine back in 2009. Talking to the neighbors, the owner bought them from the Navy pretty much intact for salvage but he lived in Maryland and trusted the collection to a local "partner" who stripped the bare in his absence. My first thought, of course, was to buy one and get parts from the others to make it fly, but there were not enough parts left among the nine or eleven there to even make one whole plane--they were mostly just bare airframes. They were sold as bulk scrap and destroyed a couple years later. Sad. See my blog page on them with all the pics and Bu numbers at: http://s2trackers.blogspot.com/

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  4. It would be tough to get that radome open on that F-4 to see if any of the radar package is left. I would guess there's not much in there, electronics-wise. Sad to to see the old birds wasting away like that.

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  5. Thanks for another great post! Seeing those birds made me think that there is a close analogy with old people- talk to them, look into their history, they have a story to tell. Once they were far more than the shells they appear to be. All of us, including the a/c, were once young and believed ourselves to be immortal and invincible.

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  6. I automatically distrust anyone who uses the word, "juxtaposed".

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    1. HA! Same thing for anyone who uses "nature's oblivion" in a sentence.

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  7. Old Airfields. They're all over Texas. They're typically either a triangle or a closed 4 shape. Those shapes allowed the pilot to minimize the crosswind during landings. A lot are still in use, mostly as general aviation airports, some as ranch strips, and some for more nefarious purposes.
    The Nimitz museum has a map of all the WWII military institutions in Texas. It's pretty full and there were a lot of places I had no clue had a facility of one form or the other.
    Great post, although I concur with the "sad to see" school of thought.

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  8. Not an aircraft, true . . . but it engenders the same feelings of loss to those of us who once served there.
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150310080823521&set=a.10150307687803521.343653.542333520&type=3&theater

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    1. Forgot to mention . . .this was Field Station Berlin's Site 3, Teufelsberg, West Berlin, Germany.

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    2. Nice little photo spread!

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  9. The Nigerian Airways aircraft looks more like an Airbus A310.

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    1. And a Google image search confirmed it. Thanks for the correction.

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    2. The A310 was a shortened version of the widebody A300 with trans Atlantic range. After years of flying over lots of unfriendly water in a four engine RC-135 (and landing numerous times with one out), when yours truly and Mrs. RJ scheduled a trip from JFK to Shannon on Pan Am I did have pause when I discovered our winged conveyance was an A310 with but two engines. Worked out to be a pleasant flight but by that time Pan Am was just going through the motions.

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  10. Be interesting to show that picture to an F7U driver and see what he has to say.

    Context and perspective can be fun. In another four billion years or so, when Sol runs low on H and puffs up like a Naval AirCowman, everything on the planet -- old jets and new jets alike -- will return to their elemental state and eventually become part of a new star. It seems relatively certain that information is never lost, so at some point a new planet will be bathed in a bit of morning stoofshine.

    Fun to juxtapose epochs, neh?

    Great post and pics, thanks!

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    1. Scott doesn't trust you, but you're welcome.

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    2. His treatment of Tubby earned my respect, though, so it balances out.

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    3. Couldn't he'p m'sef, had to t'row in a juxtaposition after Scott's comment. If there's a puddle around, I'm bounden to flang a rock in it.

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  11. Lonesome pics...

    Technically,the Mirage 2000 ("dash-five" as it is commonly referred to here) was not left for good there, on the southern straits of Samos where it ditched

    A couple of months later it was brought up from a depth of 120 ft where it laid for over a month
    to become a gateguard ( loved the analogy with the stick...)

    Cheers.
    P

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    1. I claim literary license. Good to know it became useful, if not for flight.

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    2. No worries man, just wanted to clarify this, since there was a previous,rather bizzare incident
      With another M2000 off another island,in 1997
      And in that case, the kite flew again - not the pilot though

      P

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  12. That second picture of the Draken, any back story to that? Looks like 4 hits of 20MM just behind the cockpit.

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    1. I was thinking it had been shown disapproval of it's presence, as well. Was there sightings of a beagle flying a doghouse just before?

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    2. I couldn't find anything about it.

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