Welcome to the boneyard, where US Air Force birds go to die


Air Force boneyards appeal to the child in us. The rows of rusted out planes look like old, forgotten toys, which a child could reach out and grab and lift into the air again.

The feeling is even stronger for airmen.

In an excellent article in Airman Magazine, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Matthew Bates describes retired Col. Bill Hosmer admiring a derelict F-86 Sabre:

"To retired Col. Bill Hosmer, it's still beautiful. He walks around the old fighter and stares in admiration. He slides a hand over the warped metal fuselage and a flood of memories rush over him.

'I haven't been this close to one of these in years,' he says. 'Of course, that one was in a lot better shape.'

So was Hosmer. Time has weathered and aged them both, the plane's faded paint and creased body match Hosmer's own worn and wrinkled skin. Even the plane's discarded wings stand as a metaphor for Hosmer's own life now – a fighter pilot who can't fly, standing next to a fighter jet with no wings."

An earlier version of this post was written by Geoffrey Ingersoll.

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