When Flying Is No Longer An Option (Jet Planes in Backyards)
Derelict Plane Spotting is one of the highlights of urban and country exploring, and probably one of the most rewarding exploring activities (for example, you can climb inside the cockpit and relive your childhood pilot dreams). Ships have "shipwrecks" (see our highly popular Shipwrecks article), and while abandoned planes are not usually called "wrecks", just rusted carcasses - they still hold certain fascination, mystery and historic significance ready to be discovered:
There can be little doubt that one of the most coveted status symbols for aviation enthusiasts is displaying their favourite plane in their own back gardens. It may sound crazy but the fact is that many old fighters and other aircraft come available for public purchase after they are withdrawn from service. So while many are melted down to make coke cans and others grace national museums, a select few end their days happily corroding away in the gardens behind suburban houses, farms and so on. Here's a selection to enthrall and amuse:
They don't come much more impressive than this! Waking up every morning and glancing out the window at the English Electric Lightning, the Cold War interceptor that could out-climb far more modern aircraft for many years, must be a pretty unique way to start the day:
Lightning in a garden (not just any garden; this is Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson's garden... somehow I knew he had something like that in his backyard):
"In fact, the same plane that featured in the video above is now owned by Neil Airey of ‘Lakes Lightnings’. Neil’s house in the picturesque Lake District of England is not only home to this Lightning, but also two other Lightning cockpit sections (one kept in the garage on a trailer and making regular appearances at shows), a complete Hawker Hunter and a Harrier T4 cockpit – making it one pretty unique garden! The aircraft can be viewed by prior arrangement at firstname.lastname@example.org:
Extend Your House Into an Airplane!
(images credit: Neil Airey of Lakes Lightnings)
Hunter in a backyard:
Gloster Meteor - Britain's first jet power fighter plane:
De Havilland Vampire - Britain's first jet power fighter plane - is positively smiling! -
(images credit: Demobbed, Mark Ray, Martyn Morgan, Phil Adkin)
RAF Binbrook in Lincolnshire, UK, was the home of the Lightning. Although closed since 1988 when the aircraft was withdrawn, it is to many an old spotter still the spiritual home of the Lightning and as such, this one is well cared for in the garden of house in Binbrook village. The black tail denotes that this plane was once flown by the squadron boss:
The ultimate driveway accessory! If you've always wanted to drive a Jag but find the cost a bit steep, how about one of these? This is a Seepcat Jaguar, a recently retired Anglo French ground attack jet. Upon retirement from service, an aircraft's price tag tends to drop from tens of millions of pounds to a few thousand in scrap metal value. As a result, this will now cost you less than the car variant (albeit a new one) and looks great on the drive. With its wings clipped off, it's a perfect fit!
Anyone who enjoys planes might want to consider living in one. Read our previous coverage of houses and boats made from converted aircraft - Part 1 and Part 2
In the unlikely event that you decide to stay in a rundown motel somewhere in the East Europe outback (the exact location is Istra airfield, near Panevezys in northern Lithuania), why not one with old fighter planes dotted about the grounds? Is this a plane spotters paradise or an eerie glimpse back to the Cold War?
The plane on the right (above) is in fact at Bangalore Science Museum, but it has the look of a garden and the old fighter seems curiously out of its element sandwiched on a grassy area between two roads.
At the bottom of the garden - what must the neighbours think?
The fuselage of this Fed Ex plane appears to be a fixture in a "Cast Away themed garden show". By all accounts, the wrecked plane serves as a tunnel through which keen gardeners at the show can pass from lush flora to a sandy beach (see below left).
If you need more space in your second floor apartment but can't build an extension, why not just do what this household in Russia has done and attach the forward fuselage of an old plane to the outside of your building? Whatever happens, though, don't forget that all important support under the nose wheel! -
This is only the first part of our Derelict Plane Hunting Series - stay tuned fro more! In the meantime, go exploring and spotting more winged (rusted) pieces of history - just don't go digging too far:
"Tom Moran launched Urban Ghosts Media in August 2009 after completing a fast-track journalism course in his hometown of Sheffield, UK. UGM is an alternative travel site with a focus on fascinating forgotten places and hidden history - the kind of places you'd love to check out but aren't necessarily at the top of your summer vacation list! Tom also contributes to British online newspaper The Daily Dust."
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