The queen of the skies is rapidly approaching retirement with most airlines. In fact, all major US passenger operators retired their fleets over the past few years. Today, the only way to dependably see a passenger carrying Boeing 747 is to look for foreign flagged carriers like British Airways, Korean Air, or Lufthansa.
As you probably remember, Delta retired their 747 fleet back in early 2018. TWA retired their fleet of 747 classics back in 1998. But there is one airport where both Delta 747-400s and even a classic TWA 747 still sit nearby each other. Unfortunately, they aren’t parked at a gate waiting for their next flight from JFK to Paris. Instead, they are retired in the desert and far from airworthy. The Marana Pinal Boneyard located just outside Tucson, Arizona is the perfect resting place for retired airliners. The climate is dry with plenty of space to park fleets of jets who are aged and superseded by more efficient technology.
You would think by now that a TWA 747-100 that has been retired for over 20 years would be fully broken up by now. But the value of the contents of the jet is so minimal that it has been rotting in the desert for quite a while. It’s only residual value is scrap.
On the other hand, the Delta Boeing 747-400s have a little more value (but not much). The engines and avionics still have value. Certain parts like the landing gear and other systems will be picked apart as spares before the aircraft is eventually crushed for scraps.
A flyby of the Airpark by Youtube user Crowd1011 shows the massive scale of the stripping and storing effort that takes place.
Other aircraft at the Marana Pinal Airpark include former Northwest 757s as well as an Air China 747-400 and an assortment of 737s both classics and NG. In the video below taken by Youtuber FlyFrontier259, you can see the lineup of jets taken while taxiing. While avgeeks cannot go out on the ramp, there are great viewing spots from nearby public roads. There is also a public park with a retired MD-80 on stilts.