Those who have met me know I hate the heat, with a passion. Summer to me is an unending nightmare, constant heat day and night with no escape outside diving headfirst into water or a freezer. Like a snowman if left exposed for too long i melt, my enthusiasm escaping like water down a drain. That’s why i live in London, its never sunny and always cold, we don’t get summer. Perfect. As such the last place you would expect to find me is the polar opposite of this, a desert. There are only two things capable of convincing me to visit such a place, one, a million dollar house with a pool, the other, an aircraft boneyard boasting over 200 planes in all shapes and sizes. Needless to say this story isn’t about the house.
Located 8 miles northwest of Victorville, California, the former George Air Force Base is now the resting place for some of the worlds defunct and disused giants of aviation. This is due to the perfect environmental conditions of the area, the lack of moisture in the air prevents the aircraft from rusting meaning parts can be salvaged and sold back for use as opposed to just scrap. Although no longer functioning as a military complex it is fully active as the Southern California Logistics Airport, meaning frequent patrols and some serious punishments were you to be caught within the fence.
Being somewhat of a local, Brad had his eyes on the aircraft boneyards for a while, scouting and investigating the area on several occasions, a lack of community and potential partners in crime resulting in no actual attempts. Until now. Hot off the heels of Indianapolis, Spandex and the East Coast Power-slide myself, Brad, Marc and Witek were in town and ready to crack some nuts.
Given our target was situated in the desert, the usual problems of public visibility were avoided, the surrounding area sparse and uninhabited. Unfortuantley this lack of public presence did create a slight problem, we had nowhere to leave the truck. leaving your vehicle unattended in the middle of the night close to an airport into today’s social climate, not a smart decision. As such we were forced to park almost two miles away, hiding the vehicle among a collection of small ruined buildings. Bags packed we set off through the moonlit desert, cautionary warnings of rattlesnakes and scorpions our only advice.
I like the nocturnal desert, its cool, peaceful and your usually left to your own devices. Armed with a camera and a crate of beer i could happily pass the time doing nothing but taking in the atmosphere and photographing the stars. But tonight we were out for action, there was no time for photogenic pleasantries. Our minds focused we continued on, reaching the perimeter fence without hindrance and headed towards our access point.
Suddenly the fence flashed brightly, confused we turned to see the bouncing headlights of an approaching security vehicle. Our hearts sank, we were in the middle of no-mans land, stranded, our only means of concealment rested in a limited collection of pathetic looking shrubs and thorns. We had no choice, is was that or certain arrest. Diving for the nearest bush we made ourselves as small as possible and prayed.
As the vehicle drew closer, capture seemed imminent, their lights piercing the bush like water through a sieve. I glanced at my companions collectively huddled together, patches of white, red and blue glimmering like a cheap disco. We quietly waited fearing the sound of brakes, a sound which thankfully never came, the occupants more interested with the fence than the surrounding desert. As they drove into the distance we breathed a sigh of relief, that was far to close for comfort, the fact they even managed to sneak up on us baffling.
Resuming our assault we sprinted for the fence, our clothes and bags ripping and tearing as we attempted to navigate the razor wire. Although safe in the knowledge the security patrol had several miles of ground to cover before returning we didn’t dawdle, running for the nearest aircraft once we were safely over.
Like a kid in a candy store, we were spoilt for choice, row after row of slumbering giants stretched as far as the eye could see, cargo, passenger, private, MD-11′s to 747′s, Boeing’s to Lockheed’s, if commercial aircraft are your thing this is the place to be. We wanted to see them all, explore them all, but knew this wasn’t to be. Access was only possible thanks to the cover of darkness, should the sun rise we would be spotted no matter where we were, this gave us five hours.
We wasted little time, savoring every second. For those few hours the boneyard belonged to us, our own personal aviation playground.