Autos

See the creepy boneyards where planes, trains, cruise ships and autos go to die



Ever wondered what happens to aircraft, locomotives, passenger liners and autos when they reach the end of their useful life? The vast majority of vehicles live out their final days in scrapyards to await recycling or simply rust away, and with COVID-19 spelling the end of the line for numerous planes and cruise ships, many of these vehicle graveyards are chock-a-block right now. Take a look at the eye-opening places where means of transportation go to die.




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This remarkable train cemetery is situated a couple of miles (3km) outside the Bolivian town of Uyuni, not far from the world’s largest salt flats. A key tourist attraction, the cemetery usually draws visitors from far and wide, eager to capture its eerie ambience on film.




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During the late 19th century, Uyuni was a major transport hub for Bolivia’s mining industry. Commodities mined in the area were transported to the coast from the hub, which was built by a team of British engineers.




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The hub and rail network were championed by Bolivia’s great and good, including the then-president Aniceto Arce, and the Uyuni area would have been buzzing with activity during this era.




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However, the boom times didn’t last. Throughout the early part of the 20th century, the hub and rail network were constantly sabotaged by the local indigenous population, contributing to its decline.




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One of the largest train graveyards on the planet, the Bieżanów Locomotive Depot in Kraków, Poland is home to hundreds of Soviet-era trains. The bulk of the abandoned stock comprises EU07 electric locomotives from the 1960s to the 1980s.




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These electric trains were based on the UK’s British Rail Class 83 and are still used on rail networks in Eastern Europe today. Known for their robustness, many of the defunct trains are in surprisingly good condition.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Unlike many vehicle scrapyards in other more gritty urban locations, the trains that languish in Kraków’s sprawling locomotive graveyard are largely graffiti-free, and don’t appear to be affected too much by vandalism.




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Georgia’s Old Car City is one of the biggest classic car junkyards in the world. A treasure trove for enthusiasts, the enormous forested facility stores over 4,000 used vintage vehicles in various states of disrepair.




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The colossal scrapyard, which covers more than 32 acres in rural Georgia, was set up in 1931 by the parents of the current owner Walter Dean Lewis. Over the years, thousands of vehicles have lived out their final days in the yard.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


A lucrative enterprise, Lewis charges adult visitors $20 to enter the scrapyard. But if they wish to take photographs of the yard’s thousands of Instagram-friendly used cars, the entry fee rises to $30.




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Georgia’s Old Car City may no longer sell spare parts, but this gigantic scrapyard in the sun-kissed Arizona desert is a flourishing business. Set up in 1993, Desert Valley Auto Parts near Phoenix sprawls over 40 acres, and could very well be the largest classic car junkyard on Earth.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Desert Valley Auto Parts has such an enormous inventory, staff still haven’t got around to sorting hundreds of old cars that have lived on the site for years, and may never get the chance to catalog the yard’s entire collection, which is constantly growing.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


As coronavirus batters the global airline industry, carriers around the world have been retiring planes in their droves. The once-mighty jumbo jet has taken the biggest hit. United, Delta, British Airways, Air France, KLM and Qantas have all retired their Boeing 747 fleets with many ending up at the Mojave Air and Space Port boneyard in California.




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The culled jumbo jets will either be stored awaiting refurbishment and new leasees or recycled – up to 90% of a plane can be repurposed. The Mojave facility is one of the world’s top destinations for retired aircraft. Like other boneyards around the globe, it boasts ideal environmental conditions.




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These include an arid desert climate, high elevation, low pollution levels and alkaline soils, all of which inhibit rust and erosion. The boneyard stores 1,000 commercial planes and counting. These range from aircraft that are beyond any state of repair to planes that will eventually be returned to active service, such as Qantas’ fleet of Airbus A380s, which will remain at the facility until at least 2023.




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Storage works out at around $5,000 per aircraft, per month, so the costs to airlines can mount up considerably. In addition to planes manufactured by the likes of Boeing and Airbus, the boneyard stores a variety of aircraft including McDonnell Douglas and Lockheed Martin planes.




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If you’re keen to visit, the boneyard isn’t actually open to the general public per se, but does put on monthly ‘Plane Crazy Saturdays’ during which enthusiasts can tour the now bulging facility and find out more about its activities. However these events have been canceled for the foreseeable future on account of the pandemic.




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The largest aircraft storage and preservation facility in the world, the boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in the Arizona desert boasts thousands of decommissioned US military and government aircraft.




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The 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG), to give the boneyard its official name, was set up after the Second World War and is now the only repository of decommissioned military and government aircraft in the country.




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Like the Mojave Air and Space Port, the location was chosen for its bone-dry desert climate, alkaline soil and elevation. The super-low humidity, non-acidic desert earth and high altitude help preserve the aircraft and prevent rust from forming.




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A team of around 700 workers take care of the aircraft, which include a former Air Force One. The base is used for both short and long-term storage, and for salvaging usable parts from aircraft. In total, the boneyard returns hundreds of millions of dollars-worth of spare parts to military, government and allied clients.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Europe’s premier boneyard, Teruel Airport, which is located in the remote Spanish province of the same name, was specially built to store and recycle spent aircraft. The airport also operates as a maintenance and servicing facility.




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Environment-wise, the Teruel boneyard like its counterparts in California and Arizona ticks all the boxes. The facility enjoys tinder-dry weather for much of the year, is situated at a high altitude and records very low pollution levels, which make for the perfect conditions to store and recycle aircraft.




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The boneyard is operated by a company called TARMAC Aerosave, which is part-owned by Airbus. The firm prides itself on its eco-friendly practices and recycles 90% of the aircraft dismantled at the facility, using the very latest techniques.




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In terms of capacity, the airport can handle 250 large planes at any one time. While significantly smaller than the Mojave Air and Space Port and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, the boneyard is no doubt doing a roaring trade at the current time.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Down under, Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage at Alice Springs Airport in Australia’s Northern Territory is the leading place where planes go to die. The world’s newest boneyard, the facility was completed in 2013 and became operational the following year.




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Again, the site was chosen thanks to its optimum conditions that minimize rust and erosion – the Alice Springs climate is extremely arid while air pollution is exceedingly low. The boneyard covers a total of 100 hectares.




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Although Australia’s national carrier Qantas has for reasons unknown opted to store its planes at the Mojave Desert facility in California, the Alice Springs boneyard has no shortage of clients owing to the coronavirus pandemic.




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The facility’s leading customers are airlines based in the Asia-Pacific region such as Fiji Airways and Singapore Airlines, which is storing six of its 19 Airbus A380 super jumbo jets at the Australian facility, among other aircraft.




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Business is of course brisk with COVID-19 taking its toll on the aviation sector. According to the site’s managing director Tom Vincent, the facility is expanding capacity to 70 large aircraft and is considering increasing this to 100, such is the demand.




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A slew of cruise ships have been retired of late as coronavirus devastates the industry. Many of the industry’s biggest operators including Carnival and its Costa line – the Costa Victoria was the first to be decommissioned as a consequence of COVID-19 – Royal Caribbean and Marella have accelerated plans to axe some of their most storied liners. A large proportion of these vessels end their days in Alang, India.




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In fact, the famous ship breaking yard in the Gulf of Khambat is the global number one and recycles more than half the world’s tired old cruise liners. Vessels in good working order sail there, while the most ailing craft are towed to their final destination.




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Once they show up at their last port of call, the ships are run aground on the beach and secured by teams of wreckers, who start by emptying the vessels of fuel. Thereafter, the ship-breakers salvage any usable contents such as electronic equipment, fixtures and fittings, and furniture.




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Then the heavy work begins. The wrecking workers gradually break down the cruise liners, effectively deconstructing the vessels down to their skeletons. All in all, more than 95% of a ship can be repurposed meaning very little of the vessels end up in landfill.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


The second most important breaking yard for scrapped cruise liners is located in the Turkish port of Aliağa in Izmir Province. The yard is the final resting place of a number of iconic vessels that have been retired this year such as Carnival’s Fantasy and Inspiration (pictured) liners.




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Carnival is committed to dismantling these ships safely and with the least environmental impact possible and is working with a number of ship breaking specialists such as SIMSEKLER, SEA2Cradle and the Bellona Foundation to achieve this.




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Aliağa’s ship-breakers are also in the process of breaking down the world’s first mega cruise ship, the Sovereign of the Seas, which was formerly owned by Royal Caribbean. Its most recent owner, the Spanish operator Pullmantur Cruises, filed for bankruptcy in June 2020 due to COVID-19.




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Pullmantur Cruises has also been forced to decommission two other major vessels, the MV Horizon and MS Monarch. Mirroring the activity at the Alang Ship Breaking Yard, Aliağa’s wreckers first salvage the ships’ contents then dismantle the vessels, retaining the steel and metal scraps.




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These metal parts are recycled directly or sent to a smelter or furnace to be melted and ultimately re-used. In addition to the breaking yards at Alang and Aliağa, cruise ships are broken down at scrapyards in Bangladesh, China, Pakistan and other locations around the world.




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