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The world tour of airplane graveyards


There’s something morbidly fascinating about airplane graveyards, or boneyards, as they’re sometimes called. Not only do they give visitors the chance to get up close and personal with some of the greatest jets and airliners ever to take to the skies, but the spectacle of these iron hulks rusting away on the ground is somehow a reminder that everything – even these titans of the skies – eventually comes to an end. In this blog, we take a tour of some of the world’s most spectacular airplane graveyards.

The Boneyard (Davis-Monthan Air Force Base), Tucson, Arizona

Known to locals as “The Boneyard”, the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group boasts the largest aircraft graveyard in the world. This 2,600-acre graveyard is the final resting place of over 5,000 decommissioned aircraft, including virtually every model of plane used by the US Military since World War II. While many of the aircraft in The Boneyard have been stripped of any working parts, some still have potential strategic value, and as such are kept in a state of ‘combat readiness’ in case they’re needed in the future.

Davis-Monthan was chosen as a site to park decommissioned planes because of the dry Arizonan climate, which slows their degradation. This means that, for the most part, the planes are in relatively good condition. For aircraft enthusiasts, The Boneyard is a living history book of civilian and military aviation. You’ll see B-52 bombers from the Cold War parked next to F-4 Phantoms from Vietnam, alongside passenger airliners like Boeing 707s.

If you want to see the world’s largest aircraft graveyard, charter a private jet to Tucson International Airport through Air Charter Service, followed by a short 20-minute drive to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

The remains of a derelict aircraft in a field
The remains of a derelict aircraft in a field

Aircraft Cemetery, Poltava, Ukraine

The Aircraft Cemetery in Poltava, Ukraine has a long history. In the former Soviet Union, this was the site of the military flight training school, Pokryshkin, where some of the best pilots in the communist state were trained. The fall of the USSR saw the Ukrainian military start to decline and in 1990 many of the country’s warplanes were transferred to Kazakhstan, leaving only the aircraft factory and pilot school behind. The school continued to operate in an independent Ukraine until 1994, when all flights stopped. The airbase officially closed in 2001 due to a lack of funding.

Today, the Poltava Aircraft Cemetery is a haunting reminder of the now-disbanded USSR’s power and influence over much of Eastern Europe. The most common sight at Poltava are the numerous Aero L-29 Delfín corpses, manufactured by Czechoslovakian aviation company Aero Vodochody, but you can also expect to see other attractions such as several decommissioned Mil MI-8s and a hangar full of USSR aviation relics.

To visit the Aircraft Cemetery in Poltava, charter a private flight with ACS and land at Poltova Airport, which is a short drive from the Aircraft Cemetery.

A look inside the cockpit of a derelict airplane at an airplane graveyard
A look inside the cockpit of a derelict airplane at an airplane graveyard

Alice Springs Airport, Northern Territory, Australia

Alice Springs Airport in Australia’s Northern Territory is one of the youngest airplane graveyards in the world. It officially opened in 2014 after signing a 10-year contract with Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage and, like Davis-Monthan, was chosen for its exceptionally low humidity and warm climate. The entire facility covers an area of around 110 hectares, but only 10 are currently being used to store derelict aircraft.

The variety of aircraft on show here isn’t quite on par with larger sites like Tucson’s Boneyard, due to the fact that Alice Springs stores a large number of intact aircraft in addition to derelict ones. The site stores aircraft that are awaiting resale or not currently being used by their airlines, so there’s a lot of traffic in and out. In its opening year, as many as 25 planes had already moved through, with only nine being stored permanently.

To visit the Alice Springs Graveyard, simply charter a private jet to Alice Springs Airport and you’re all set. Contact us to plan your route and choose an appropriate craft for your journey.

Get in touch with us via our website if you need help with any other aspects of your world tour of airplane graveyards, or would like to find out more about chartering a private jet for any other purpose.

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