On to the next one. As airline's reach for new heights both literally and figuratively, brand new aircraft with greater efficiency and passenger amenities are the next great leap. That leaves the question: if it's on to the next one, what happens to the last one? About 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles, in the middle of the dry, cactus laden and barren Mojave desert you will find the graveyard where almost every airplane on earth goes to die.
Victorville, California. Odds are if you've never driven between Los Angeles and Las Vegas you've never been anywhere near it. Why would you? The scorching conditions which have inspired many a Western movie are far better suited for airplanes than people. When a new plane comes into service it receives the water cannon salute, gets a big birthday cake and passengers have a mini party celebrating the new marvel of aviation. With every beginning comes an end. As the new plane takes excited passengers to a thriving city, the plane that used to make the flight takes off, with empty cabin for a destination where no one is waiting. For most planes, Victorville is the final stop.
All those glorious old jumbos just weren't made for todays world and before their 20th birthday, most will be retired. It's not all doom and gloom for aircraft arriving at Victorville however. Well maintained planes have much to offer and you never know which cheap world leader or airline upstart would rather buy a reliable used bird than something fresh off the lot. In many cases, even though the frame will never fly again, the "guts" of the plane can be very valuable on something new. The circle of life I suppose. If you want to feel this experience in the best way possible other than physically going, watch this video. it's fantastic.
If you've seen the movie Independence Day starring Will Smith as a fighter pilot defeating the alien race single handedly you know that beautiful old jumbo jets aren't the only thing to be found in Victorville. Sadly, due to the fact that the facility is part of a semi top secret air force base visitation is extremely limited. I must say, the video certainly did the trick for me. How about that salute from ATC? Nearly (does) get a tear every time.
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