Plane Wreck Movie Prop Near Nelson Ghost Town, Nevada

crashed plane nevada  Plane Wreck Movie Prop Near Nelson Ghost Town, Nevada(Image: David Cohen, cc-nc-nd-3.0)

At first glance, this battered military aircraft would appear to be the victim of a tragic accident, one of many to litter the vast expanses of the Nevada desert.  But in reality the plane wreck is a movie prop located near Nelson, Nevada, used in the 2001 crime film 3000 Miles to Graceland starring Kurt Russell and Kevin Costner.

nelson nevada ghost town  Plane Wreck Movie Prop Near Nelson Ghost Town, Nevada(Image: Tanya Hart, cc-sa-3.0)

Unlike the impressive crashed Boeing 747 set from War of the Worlds, this scene was not filmed on an LA back-lot.  Filmmakers probably thought the plane wreck would go unnoticed amid the unforgiving terrain, and simply left it there.  But with the historic ghost town of Nelson nearby, it makes for an interesting and less conventional addition to the traditional tourist trail in the area.

War of the Worlds: Crashed Boeing 747, Universal Studios

war of the worlds 747  War of the Worlds: Crashed Boeing 747, Universal Studios(Image: Daniel Rodríguez Troitiño, cc-nc-sa-3.0)

Anyone who has seen Steven Spielberg’s 2005 adaptation of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds will remember an incredible scene where, after cowering in a suburban basement while the Tripods wreaked havoc on the world around, Ray and his kids ventured out to discover the wreckage of a crashed Boeing 747. Storm Climb has delved into the story behind the “crashed” plane and its final journey to Universal Studios.

war of the worlds 747 2  War of the Worlds: Crashed Boeing 747, Universal Studios(Image: s.yume, cc-nc-nd-3.0)

The 747 Jumbo Jet is a breathtaking sight on the back-lot at Universal Studios in Los Angeles, 2,500 miles from the crash scene’s fictitious east coast setting. To create the scene, the film crew purchased a retired 747 previously operated by Japan’s All Nippon Airways. The surplus passenger plane was transported to Universal at a cost of $2 million.

war of the worlds 747 4  War of the Worlds: Crashed Boeing 747, Universal Studios(Images: prayitno, cc-3.0; Roger Schultz, cc-3.0; Andrew Wippler, cc-3.0)

The crew then set about breaking the 747 into several massive pieces and cutting away parts of the cabin to reveal seats and other internal features. Wreckage was strewn all around, and the damaged houses were constructed around the aircraft remains.

war of the worlds 747 3  War of the Worlds: Crashed Boeing 747, Universal Studios(Image: s.yume, cc-nc-nd-3.0)

The All Nippon Airways livery is clearly visible on the fuselage of the wrecked plane. Fans can view the memorable scene for themselves on the Universal Studios back-lot tour. While this 747 is well and truly destroyed, it has nevertheless been immortalised in film history and displayed for the enjoyment of movie fans, unlike the rusting occupants of forgotten plane graveyards and boneyards around the world.

Second Chance for Neglected Saab 35 Draken Jet

saab 35 draken finland  Second Chance for Neglected Saab 35 Draken Jet(Image: All images by Sameli Kujala, all rights reserved)

While abandoned aircraft and plane graveyards can be fascinating sights and poignant reminders that yesterday’s cutting edge technology is tomorrow’s scrap metal, it’s always pleasing to see a neglected fighter plane restored to health. Photographer Sameli Kujala captured this Saab 35 Draken in the middle of a cosmetic rebuild, after the jet was moved from the Finnish municipality of Oulunsalo to its new location.

saab draken finland preserved  Second Chance for Neglected Saab 35 Draken Jet

All but abandoned prior to the move, with smashed canopy and signs of vandalism, the Draken looks much better with a newly installed canopy and a good clean. Now it just needs its wings back. Find out more about this aircraft, and other aviation abandonments, by visiting our companion site Urban Ghosts.

Submerged F-4: The Phantom of Subic Bay

F 4 phantom subic bay1  Submerged F-4: The Phantom of Subic Bay(Image: Anders Poulsen, reproduced with permission)

There are numerous reasons why ocean floors are littered with the remains of military aircraft, from war and conflict to mechanical malfunction and the occasional artificial reef. But it’s not often divers stumble across the submerged remains of one of the world’s greatest warplanes. Not so for photographer Anders Poulsen, seen here exploring the wreck of an F-4 Phantom on the bottom of Subic Bay in the Luzon Sea, Philippines.

submerged f 4 phantom subic bay  Submerged F-4: The Phantom of Subic Bay(Image: Anders Poulsen, reproduced with permission)

While the identity of this Phantom remains elusive, it most likely served with the U.S. Navy and is probably an F-4B, J or N model. The Phantom’s intact condition and numerous missing components suggest it didn’t crash or ditch. During the Vietnam War it wasn’t uncommon for badly damaged aircraft to be stripped for parts and, in some cases, even pushed overboard to free up space.

crashed f 4 phantom subic bay  Submerged F-4: The Phantom of Subic Bay(Image: Anders Poulsen, reproduced with permission)

Could that be the case with this F-4? A more tragic possibility is that the Phantom may have been a victim of the fire aboard the USS Forestal fire in 1967. With the fire extinguished, the Forrestal steamed toward Subic, where it moored at Naval Air Station Cubi Point. Was this Phantom stripped for parts during the cruise and pushed overboard at the mouth of Subic Bay?

f 4 phantom US navy  Submerged F-4: The Phantom of Subic Bay(Images: top, left, right: U.S. Navy, public domain)

We may never know, but its watery grave has saved it from being scrapped or shot down as a target drone – a common fate for retired Phantoms. For the time being, this aircraft, originally built by McDonnell Douglas in St Louis, will remain a popular destination for scuba divers exploring the wrecks of Subic Bay. The more active Phantoms above show what the jet once looked like.

Abandoned Aircraft: 8 Plane Graveyards From Around the World

abandoned f 4 phantom  Abandoned Aircraft: 8 Plane Graveyards From Around the World(Image: cgull123, all rights reserved)

While they’re a sad sight to the aviation enthusiast, there’s something eerily fascinating about abandoned aircraft and plane graveyards. Whether it’s the sight of yesterday’s cutting edge technology rusting away in the boneyards of the present, or the rich history surrounding military forces and hardware in general, plane graveyards make for great exploring – in this case from the safety of your PC. In this article we examine eight boneyards that highlight present conflicts and past epochs.

MiG-23 Graveyard, Balad, Iraq

MiG 23 graveyard  Abandoned Aircraft: 8 Plane Graveyards From Around the World(Images: dokmarius (left), cc-nc-sa-3.0; nathanm, cc-nc-sa-3.0)

This ruinous plane graveyard reflects the fate of Iraq’s air force following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Dragged from various hiding places around the former Balad Air Base (now Joint Base Balad), these dilapidated MiG-23s represent an air force that barely got off the ground in the wake of invasion. Lying amid other junk in a neglected airplane boneyard, the abandoned MiGs have been looted by coalition forces and look more like pieces of urban art than once operational aircraft. Explore more of the Balad plane graveyard.

The Famous “A1 Lightning”, Balderton, UK

lightning xn728 balderton  Abandoned Aircraft: 8 Plane Graveyards From Around the World(Image: Gary Parsons, Air-Scene UK, all rights reserved)

Speaking of urban art, this English Electric Lightning F.2A is easily Britain’s most famous derelict fighter plane. The Cold War warrior appeared in a haulage yard near Balderton, Nottinghamshire in 1983, after battle damage repair duties at RAF Coningsby. Bought to attract customers to the yard almost 30 years ago, the Lightning has somehow survived despite changes of ownership and periods of dereliction.

derelict lightning f2a balderton  Abandoned Aircraft: 8 Plane Graveyards From Around the World(Images: Simon Thomas; Gary Parsons, Air-Scene UK, all rights reserved; David Cowling, cc-sa-3.0)

Despite it’s terrible condition, the abandoned aircraft has become a landmark to drivers on the A1 road and was even the subject of a Paul Smith clothing line. With restoration looking increasingly unlikely, some have called for the jet to be turned into a piece of urban art – if it isn’t already. All in all, the Lightning remains something of an enigma. Personal enquiries to owners past and present yielded few details other than an dogged refusal to give it up. RAF Binbrook, the Lightning’s spiritual home, is also abandoned today.

Russian Aircraft Wrecks

abandoned russian aircraft  Abandoned Aircraft: 8 Plane Graveyards From Around the World(Images: Igor W. Minaichenkov and Vladimir Nazarov, via English Russia)

In the world of plane graveyards and abandoned aircraft, the wilds of Russia and vast expanses of Siberia hold a treasure trove of forgotten Soviet hardware. While the workhorse TU-95 Bear and TU-22M Backfire bombers have seen a resurgence in recent years, it’s unlikely the rusting hulks above ever saw regeneration. While many have doubtless been scrapped since these photographs were taken, some likely remain on their weed-infested dispersals due to the sheer remoteness of the region.

Moscow Aircraft Museum – Plane Graveyard, Russia

plane graveyard moscow  Abandoned Aircraft: 8 Plane Graveyards From Around the World(Images: Eldan Goldenberg (website), NC-SA-2.0)

Siberia isn’t the only place to take in Russian aircraft wrecks. Silently guarding the last overgrown dispersals of a Moscow airfield, this collection of corroding jets and helicopters looks more like a plane graveyard than a functioning museum. It’s a curious site amid a rapidly redeveloping area of Moscow, as decaying Soviet hardware meets modern Russia.

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, United States

davis monthan aircraft boneyard  Abandoned Aircraft: 8 Plane Graveyards From Around the World(Images: Roger Smith, cc-nc-nd-3.0)

The most famous aircraft boneyard in the world is a mind-blowing facility at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona, where over 4,400 silent fighters, bombers, transports, helicoptors and attack jets make up the world’s second largest air force. From F-4s and F-14s to chopped B-52s and B-1Bs, this is where America’s retired military airborne hardware comes to wait – for recycling, reactivation or spares use.

davis monthan airplane graveyard  Abandoned Aircraft: 8 Plane Graveyards From Around the World(Images: Roger Smith, cc-nc-nd-3.0)

While the B-52s and F-14s are being destroyed to honour treaty agreements, many F-4s will fly again, only to be shot down as target drones over the western bombing ranges. That said, here’s one F-4 Phantom that escaped both the scrapman and the missiles. For more desert plane graveyards of the western United States, check out this article by Ransom Riggs writing on Mental Floss.

Rinkaby Shooting Range, Sweden

rinkaby saab draken  Abandoned Aircraft: 8 Plane Graveyards From Around the World(Images: Andreas Mathiasson, all rights reserved)

In a plane graveyard located in a distant corner of the former Rinkaby military airfield in Sweden, a group of seemingly abandoned Saab 35 Draken fighter planes stand amid other decaying hardware. Ranging from fully intact to twisted metal fuselage remains, the aircraft do not currently appear to be used in live fire exercises but their future is far from certain. Find out more about Rinkaby and its abandoned Saab Drakens.

Abandoned Aircraft and Plane Graveyards of the Middle East

plane graveyard middle east  Abandoned Aircraft: 8 Plane Graveyards From Around the World(Images: Jim Garamone; Bahamut0013, cc-sa-3.0; U.S. Marine Corps; jamesdale10, cc-3.0; U.S. Army)

Due to ongoing instability and conflict, parts of the Middle East are littered with abandoned aircraft and plane graveyards. The top two images depict an airplane boneyard known as “the petting zoo” at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Like Balad’s MiG-23 graveyard, the battered jets have been rounded up from hiding places across the base. Many were probably unservicable before the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions. The wrecked MiG-29 (bottom) was destroyed during Operation Desert Storm and has lain in the desert ever since.

Predannack Plane Graveyard, UK

abandoned harrier predannack  Abandoned Aircraft: 8 Plane Graveyards From Around the World(Images: cgull123, all rights reserved; Dave Bellamy, all rights reserved)

In an extensive tribute to the Harrier jump jet on our companion site Urban Ghosts, we explored this plane graveyard at Predannack Airfield on Cornwall’s Lizard Peninsula. Operated by the Royal Navy, the derelict airframes, including several Harriers, appear reasonably intact despite ominously belonging to the Royal Naval School of Fire Fighting. Only time will tell how long they survive…