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:

(English Electric Lightning Jet, image credit: Simon Thomas)

(MiG-25RB at Monino, Russia - photo by Artem Anikeev)

(Romanian Air Force MiG-17, in Otopeni, Romania; photos by Lia Stelea)

(Dakota Plane in Ratanga Theme Park, photos by Danie van der Merwe)

Have Your Garden BBQ Inside the Cockpit!

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sound crazy but the fact is that many old fighters and other aircraft come available for public purchase after they are withdrawn from service.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:

(image credit: Demobbed, Phil Adkin)

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 lakeslightnings@hotmail.co.uk:

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:

(image credit: Demobbed, Mick Boulanger)

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:

(image credit: Paul Kyte)

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!

(image credit: Demobbed)

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?

(image credit: Jörgen Städje)

Here's one that is peculiarly, and certainly precariously, placed. Despite appearances, this T-33A Shooting Star is a fixture at the National Weapons Museum, Albania (left image):

(images via)

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?

(image credit: Phillip Capper)

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:

(original unknown)




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Anonymous erik_chipchase said...

My friend was visiting in Albania, and saw the Lockheed T-33 some years ago.
The Albanians said it was a spy plane, for the imminent American invasion of Albania......

Anonymous Julian said...

Moreton-in-Marsh in Gloucestershire, UK, houses the National Fire Training College, which used to be an RAF base. Near the fence on the North side there's the skeleton of a Hawker Hunter. Just looks like it was thrown into the woods. Quite eerie...

Blogger Skipweasel said...

Great stuff - but the dH Vampire wasn't the first British jet fighter - that was the Gloster Meteor.

Dad was fighting in Burma when the Meteor started flying and remembered rumours of "A plane without a propellor, which whistled like a kettle". Which rumours he dismissed, as did most who heard them.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spooky. I actually used to play in the lightening pictured at the top of the page.

Anonymous The Metal Fab Guy said...

Cool Stuff. I love it when they turn an old plane into yard art. what fun for the kids!

Anonymous Taavi said...

The MOTEL is not somewhere in Russia, but in Lithuania. I used to work with a company in Kaunas and travelled past it every couple of months. Trying to remember where it was ... it could also be in Latvia ;-)
Anyway, touring from Estonia to Lithuania on E67 it is on your right at some point of this 600 km stretch.

Anonymous James said...

You should check out this link, there are a ton of abandoned USAF airplanes on it:



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