Airplanes. Love ’em or hate ’em, they have…no opinion about you. Those birds (aviation-speak for planes) though, golly are they hard workers– I prowl aviation forums often, and regularly see members commenting about their last chance to fly a DC-10 (last one manufactured around twenty-four years ago; go to Bangladesh if you’re interested), or even a Boeing 707 (planes would be no less than thirty-three years young! For passenger-use, I think Saha Airlines of Iran and a couple of Sub-Saharan African airlines still operate them). I was excited to fly a Soviet-made jet (saying that makes them at least twenty years young) in the DPRK, and now am trying to collect new types of aircraft on which to fly. Do you delight in the security checkpoint circus and special meal trivia too? Too as in, excluding me…
Once they are determined to be way past their prime, most of the obedient birds are sent to boneyards (the term for planes) to bask in the dry (to hinder corrosion) fields and deserts of California and Arizona. The largest in the world might be, according to PopSci.com, right outside of Tucson, Arizona, and primarily used for military aircraft.
That’s good and well and all, but what about the bad eggs of the sky? You might know them as the ones that get tired of being blamed for delays, and/or bored of flying between Philadelphia and Harrisburg (or according to Sipse, coming in 2013, Beijing to Cancun?) East Asia seems to have found a use for them, reducing their fuselages and liveries (the paint job) to mere attractions, as advertisements or landscaping. Let’s take a gander at a few places that, with a scoche of help from Google Maps, you too can visit:
I’ve stayed in the Kameido (亀戸) section of Tokyo a couple of times, as although it’s not near any of the tourist “downtowns,” it’s close enough, affordable and with plenty of restaurants and shopping around. Oh, and a cockpit in someone’s front yard soaking it all in. Bonus points for not having the whole plane. There may be a cliché about how you can decipher who is a tourist and who is a local– the tourist is looking up– there’s no other city I’d rather spend my time craning my neck in to create a a block-by-block map of than Tokyo. There might be a dragon climbing down the side of one building, a monster with licorice for teeth welcoming you (and others) into another, and a giant bowling pin (representing an adults-only bowling alley…perhaps in two years). Peculiarities are guaranteed, and knowledge of Japanese will only make you question why you now know what that word on a sign means.
Image Location : Airplane 1
Ridong International Brand Home Center. I’m sold. With a livery unintentionally but mysteriously evoking the colors of the flag of New York City (or the Irish Sunburst), this company in Zhuhai (珠海), China (on the border with Macao) really wanted to show residents… how civilized the plane looks in a parking lot. (Links thanks to NYC.gov and flagspot.net) If none of your money is counterfeit at checkout, they let you walk up the steps to the only part of the plane without windows. In true Chinese fashion, as I was strolling on the sidewalk, a car was tailgating me. Regardless of its dubious placement, it caught my attention, and because I can only ride the free casino shuttles in Macao so much, it is my number one attraction in the Zhuhai-Macao border control area.
Image Location: Airplane 2
I took the Taibei metro up to Danshui (淡水) in June 2008. No real reason, other than to have Danshuians set off fireworks right by my ear. Thanks for that. The short walk through the mangroves and peanut-sesame chew were two high points, and the other, this 737. It looks less cared for (probably was a member of the China Airlines of the 1990s) on the outside, but I can’t comment on the interior as time was stretched that day. However, if you like to eat Western food, seafood and sing karaoke, there are plenty of other restaurants in the world that aren’t in Taiwan. Regardless, this restaurant and the Zhuhai furniture parking lot deserve credit for being prominently random in their respective google maps entries.
Image Location: Airplane 3
UPDATE: OCTOBER 2012
I forgot that I saw the”Lucky Felicidad” plane while visiting the city of Chiba, Japan (Chiba city is in Chiba prefecture, which borders Tokyo to the east; Narita Airport is in this prefecture) in March 2011. There are probably tens of..tens of planes astride roofs in Japan, a country where if you clamor for the bizarre, it is likely all around you. This might be the most popular attraction in Chiba city, right after the commuter rail platforms leaving it. Oh wait, they’ve got a swell monorail too, if that counts.
Image Location: Airplane 4
Have you seen these four planes or any other ones in your travels? If you have, please let us know in the comments with a link to the location, if possible.