Exploring the Yanks Air Museum Boneyard

We’re all familiar with the idea of old cars going off to the scrap-yard when they’ve reached their “use by” date. Whenever we board a plane headed off on a holiday jaunt, how many of us think about what will eventually happen to the plane that we’re on when its useful life is over? In the spirit of “planes, trains, and automobiles,” today we’re going to have a bit of a look at a boneyard, courtesy of the Yanks Air Museum, located in Chino, California. If you want to see more photos and read more about the boneyard, you will find that information here at CNET.

For those of you who looked at that first photo and thought that what you saw looked vaguely familiar, you were probably right. That is the nose of a legendary B-52, one of the stalwarts of the US military. This next pair couldn’t have more different roles. The craft on the left is a Curtis C-46 Commando. This example dates from the late 1940s, and it once saw service with another lost US giant, Pan Am. The plane on the right is a Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer, which was utilized as a patrol bomber during both World War II and the Korean War.

However, this particular PB4Y-2 was not used in combat but served with the US Coast Guard. The view from those forward windows must have been outstanding, and it is easy to see why these were a favorite craft for search and rescue operations. Nestled next to it is a Douglas A-4 Skyhawk. Developed for the US Navy and the Marine Corps, it was capable of being carrier-launched and could reach a top speed of 670mph. Amazingly, the A-4 Skyhawk first took to the skies in 1954, and examples are still in use by the Argentinean Air Force today.

The NASA badge should be a giveaway because this is no ordinary aircraft. This is actually a Bell Aerosystems LLRV or Lunar Landing Research Vehicle. These were used for training purposes by NASA as they prepared for that “one small step for man.” The purpose of these was to study and determine the flying and landing requirements that would face the Apollo Mission Commanders as they prepared to land the Lunar Excursion Module on the surface of the moon. Powered by a single jet engine which was designed to lift 5/6 of the vehicle’s weight, the rest of the lifting and maneuvering work was performed by a hydrogen peroxide rocket. This combination best simulated the weights and handling characteristics that the astronauts would face when they reached the moon. Don’t be distressed by the thought that such a priceless piece of American space history has been consigned to a boneyard because this is believed to be a replica.

The boneyard isn’t just the final resting place for all things airborne, because there is a fair collection of older trucks, pickups, and other defense force vehicles. There is also this, which had our intrepid explorer mystified for a while. I guess that this is a craft that flies, in a fashion. This is what was known as a PACV (Patrol Air Cushion Vehicle), or, to you and I, a hovercraft. Developed in the 1960s, and used in service between 1966 and 1970, there were six of these vehicles built. Three were used by the US Army, and the remaining three by the Navy. Following the end of their service with the defense forces, the three Navy vessels were used by the US Coast Guard for search and rescue operations until 1975. Of the original six craft, only two exist today. One of the Army vessels is located at the US Army Transportation Museum, in Fort Eustis, Virginia. What you see here is the only remaining Navy vessel. it isn’t clear what the plans are, but you would hope that it is destined for restoration at some point.

That’s just a brief snippet of what is lying around in the Yanks Museum Boneyard. As someone who is fascinated by all things aviation, I would love to explore this amazing place. The best that we can do is to look at the photos and to enjoy the video that you will find below.

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Comments

  1. Moparman Member

    Fascinating!! I, too, am drawn to aviation and this lights my fuse just as an old junkyard full of cars does!! I’d LOVE to be able to tour this one as well!! :-)

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  2. Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

    I wonder what the story is behind the Harrier in the last photo :-)

    2
    • unclemymy Member

      Well, the most notable part of the story would be that it is an A-6 Intruder, not a Harrier. An unlucky pilot who made that mistake would be unhappy with his sink rate as he tried to transition :-)

      11
      • bruce baker

        Good eye too. As soon as i read the word Harrier from Jamie Palmer, i said what Harrier? Jamie check out the old Movie “Flight of the Intruder”. Or try those Aircraft Quizzes Found on YouTube. I like the one with a photo of SR71 on the cover , as i only got 3 wrong my first try. I think they were incorrect on the U-2 though . Dragon Lady would of been correct if they had mention TR-1 instead of just U-2. I was working at plant 10 Palmdale the day when the U-2 TR-1 was first aloud to be photographed. Yeah with a cute petite/lightweight civilian female model sitting on my hands just barely above the port main wing. I told my Coworkers what just happen, as they all grabbed me away from a sink saying “are you crazy don’t wash your hands”. I broke the news to them she was not nude. All 3 three of them said “soooo” an smelled my hands. I told them to grow up but they still wouldn’t let me wash my hands that day at work.

  3. Gaspumpchas

    I was able to tour an aircraft junkyard In Tucson next to Davis Monthan. Place was in the process of going out of business and I had to talk my @$$ off to get permission to walk around but was able to. Saw a flying boxcar being dismantled. Also there was the fuselage from a NASA “vomit comet” there, the one they used to simulate weightlessness. Place has since been closed. I did score an aluminum hubcap from a 727 that has the Boeing logo cast in! Very cool once in a lifetime experience!!
    Cheers
    GPC

    18
  4. Rick

    So much history and so many future man-cave tables if the general public was allowed to purchase anything!

    8
  5. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    GREAT video, Adam!!! Did you get to tour the restoration area too? Definitely a “bucket list” place for some of us.
    FYI-they are currently restoring a Waco CG-4 Combat Glider, one of a very few new in existence. When you see it you’ll understand why most of the paratroopers preferred jumping from an airplane… the motto of many squadrons was “we fly the crates they come in!”

    I’m sure you’ll need some cheese for all the whine you’ll receive because you’ve dared to venture away from cars(or muscle cars, or a specific make, model, year and particularly optioned muscle car) but I say keep ‘all this kind of stuff coming! Anyone that focused on one subject probably dated (dates?) the exact type of girl over and again..and how boring is that?🙄

    9
    • KarlS

      @Navadahalftrack, my father was a glider pilot during WWII and spent many a Tuesday working on that one at Yanks before he passed away a few years back. He also flew C-47s, like the one which Yanks has in their museum and it was fitted with Dad’s squadron insignia on its nose. He was pretty proud of that.

      2
      • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

        You’ve just incentivized me all the more to go see it, KarlS. As well, you’re the first I’ve corresponded with that had family in gliders. FYI https://www.ww2gp.org does outstanding research of the pilots (both tug and glider) and their missions if you don’t already know all the official details.
        Thanks again, KarlS.

        1
      • Alford Pouse

        Near Lehighton, Pa was a farm with a glider from WWII in the woods. From what I was told numerous surplus gliders still boxed up were sold off. Most of which were scrapped after useful parts were removed. Seems many who purchased were after the crates to be used for buildings, storage sheds, etc. The glider the farmer I spoke of is gone now but it did give a kid a chance to play out his pilot fantasies when we visited.

        2
      • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

        Alford, that’s a great story-thank you for sharing it. You’re absolutely right: Practically every crated Waco glider left after The War was sold not for the glider as a means of transportation but for for the containers they came in, which made for terrific chicken coops, storage sheds and the like.
        I hope you had many a flight of fancy in that Waco-what a cool way to spend the day as a kid!

        2
  6. geomechs geomechs Member

    I missed the boneyard tour from the PIMA Air Museum to the yard itself northwest of Tucson. It was Martin Luther King Day and the bus wasn’t operating. Quite disappointing. I hope to get back there and try it again. The tour through the museum itself is amazing just the same. I could spend days there. That’s the first time I saw an SR-71 Blackbird in the flesh…

    7
    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      That being the case, geomechs, in your travels I think you’d thoroughly enjoy the Evergreen Museum in McMinnville, OR.-there’s another Blackbird, last I saw nestled under the wing of the Spruce Goose!

      8
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        The Spruce Goose! That’s another item on my bucket list. I went to Long Beach to see it but it had just been shipped out to places north. I want to see the Spruce Goose then tool on over to Tillamook to watch the ‘Pigs and Fords’ races. Now that I’m about 90% retired I might be able to see some of those things. Of course it still takes money…

        7
      • grant

        Evergreen is awesome! Toured it last summer with my daughters, who were very patient as their dad geeked out. The Blackbird is on the other side (space side) of the museum from the Spruce Goose. Interestingly, the museum doesn’t own it, and it’s on a planned maintenance schedule. Might have been patter, but I have it on good authority that it could be airborne in a matter of days. Find Sylvia and she’ll give you the most comprehensive guided tour. Lots of planes, old engines, rocket parts, ect. Even a few old cars (model A, model T, and a few muscle cars.) My favorite exhibit was the Huey as my dad flew them. For three of us it was $100 to walk in, but we spent all day there and it was worth every penny.

        7
      • Chevy Guy

        Yep. I live 20 mins from the McMinnville Museum. The Blackbird SR-71 spy plane is moved to the space part of the museum, and the Spruce Goose is still There. They have several helicopters and a corsair and a whole bunch of awesome planes and awesome U.S. Veterans to talk to! Very interesting!

        https://www.evergreenmuseum.org/

        5
      • Gaspumpchas

        Nevadahalftrack, I’m told , as you said, the gliders were sold for dirt for the lumber in crates. In Northeast PA, these gliders were all over the place in the woods. Enterprising Pat Bilbow, built dragster chasis in Wilkes-Barre, and he used the tubing from the glider frames for this dragster . Seems the tubing was ultra high quality Chrome Moly, which is the material of choice. His total output al Lyndwood welding was over 400 chassis and spare parts. Goes to show everything recycles!!!

        2
      • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

        That’s really cool! Thanks, gaspumpchas, next time I write to the Glider Pilots Assoc. I’m going to pass that along (the folks at nwwiigpa.org are fantastic people)..
        FYI,Turns out that one of the Waco training modules is on display at Travis AFB Air Museum if you’re in that neighborhood.

        1
  7. Bob S

    Back in 1972, while I was flying as an exchange pilot in the USAF, I got to tour the yard at Davis Monthan in Tucson. It was an incredible experience, as I got to see a monster lineup of B-52s being stripped for parts, all the remaining B-58 Hustlers, and a large assortment of other aircraft, some of which were actually being taken out of mothballs and restored to duty.
    It was an unforgettable experience. I regret that I never got to the boneyard in Chino, but that was another place I would like to have seen.
    I think there are videos of the DM yard on the internet, and for any aviation buff, they are well worth taking the time to watch.
    Bob

    5
    • Gaspumpchas

      Great commentary on DM BobS. Interesting thing is, this is one of the biggest money generating operations in the US, they sell planes and parts to over 36 countries. During the tour they told us they would buy retired commercial aircraft, as some of them used the same engines as the C-5 Galaxy. Remove the engines, freshen ’em up and have a ready to install package for the Galaxy! Take the tour if you are visiting Tucson!!!

      Cheers
      GPC

      2
  8. ccrvtt

    This is just the sort of thing to take BarnFinds to the next level! Keep up the good work!

    11
  9. dirtyharry

    I live a few miles from the Chino Airport. Here is a link for an overhead view of the yard:

    https://virtualglobetrotting.com/map/piccadilly-lilly-b-17-at-chino-airport/view/google/

    Right now, there is a B-17 parked out front, that they want to restore to flying condition. You can see a link for “Piccadilly Lilly,” on the same link. They have an annual air show and it is not uncommon seeing every aircraft from WWII flying in for the show. Recently they lost one of the last remaining flying wings which was entirely restored in Chino.

    5
    • KarlS

      Yes, there are two air museums at the Chino Airport – the Yanks Museum and, where the B-17 is, the Planes of Fame Museum. Both are great to tour. Each year in May there is a huge airshow that both museums participate in.

      1
      • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

        I hope you and dirtyharry both got to see the commemorative jump I was told was going happen on June 6, the 75th anniversary of the Invasion of Europe at Normandy. It was supposed to be a show worth seeing.

        1
  10. Rube Goldberg

    Hate to be a wet blanket, but I see a lot of our tax dollars here,,,isn’t there a huge airplane junkyard in Tucson?

    4
    • Steve R

      What are they supposed to do with planes that have reached the end of their useful life, either through technical innovation or the number of duty cycles?

      4
    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      “Strip it and scrap it”: one of the reasons there are B-52’s in the air being crewed by kids whose fathers and even grandfathers flew beforehand-in some instances the very same air platform! That’s why the place you’re talking about(Davis-Monthan)existed!
      The planes at this PRIVATELY owned museum were bought or donated with money from folks with the same love for aircraft that many have for cars, painted art, music and whatever.

      8
  11. geomechs geomechs Member

    Definitely a great video! It just added another item to my bucket list. Sure am getting a lot of them. They’re growing as fast as my wife’s Honey Do list, which, since retirement, has now reached the size of a Chicago phone book…

    7
  12. ken tilly

    I went to see the Spruce Goose back in 1989 when it was still at Long Beach next to the Queen Mary. Absolutely the biggest thing I have managed to scratch off my bucket list. Having said that i would love to go and see it again at the Evergreen Museum, however, now that I live across the pond it’s not likely to happen in the near future.

    5
  13. NotSure

    Cool place.
    Thanks to Adam for this great write up!

    7
  14. That AMC Guy

    This is the most interesting aircraft boneyard I’ve seen around:

    https://www.scifiairshow.com/commercial

    1
  15. scottymac

    Interesting no one has mentioned the best airplane museum in the country, the U.S. Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB near Dayton, Ohio. Next on my personal list is Pima near Tucson, the Strategic Air Command Museum in Nebraska, then the Udvar-Hazy Annex (?) of the Smithsonian Museum near Dulles Airport in Virginia. I’ve driven by Chino and Davis-Monthan and got threatened by a gate guard at Marana, Az., trying to see what they had there. Mojave is good if you like airliners, got to see one of the last Convair 880s there. I remember how tickled I was to see row after row of Ba-146s parked there, they were such a PITA trying to space them with real jets going into O’Hare.

    2
  16. Jack Quantrill

    When the Goose was in Long Beach, you entered the darkened dome, and after a couple of minutes , they turned on the bright lights, bouncing off the big bird. I almost fainted. It was pure white, and the interior of the dome was flat black. a stunning sight. They wanted to dismantle the plane, and sent parts around the country to other museums. Glad Evergreen got the whole thing. I get goosing bumps just thinking about that plane!

    5
    • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

      My Dad sat me down as a young lad and told me all about Hugh’s Spruce Goose and we spotted it in Long Beach Harbor sometime around 1969-1970. It was kismet that I grew up near Washington DC and my parents parents were in Dayton Ohio so I visited Wright-Patterson (simply Wright Field when my dad was young) and the Smithsonian museum as a kid every year on class field trips and family vacations. As an adult, I watched the Air & Space move to Reston, Virginia where the tour experience got even better.

      2
  17. Steve

    Just an FYI, the C-46 was a 1930’s vintage design, not late 40’s. I was stationed at Ft. Eustis in the summer of 1965 and I saw that ground effects machine every day while marching to aircraft mechanics classes. Not a very good photo here, but it was 2 place, around 15 ft. in diameter, built in Canada, I believe by de Haviland. Looked like a little flying saucer. Often wondered what became of it?

    2
    • bruce baker

      Buffalo Airways still flies two C-46’s on Ice Pilots on the WEATHER Channel. Or maybe not now in 2019, yeah being these are old Reruns.

  18. Reg Bruce

    Love it! And I think that it’s entirely appropriate for vintage airplane stuff to appear once-in-a-while on BF because I’ll bet that the majority of gear heads are into planes as well as cars.
    I live in Ohio and I’ve been fortunate enough to visit the Air Force museum in Dayton on several occasions. I’ve also managed to do the SAC museum (about 10 years ago) and the PIMA museum in Tuscon (last Thanksgiving). They are all “do not miss” places if you are at all into planes — especially military ones.
    A note of caution though, I couldn’t get in to do the Davis-Monthan tour because (quote) “We require a 9-day waiting period after you apply to visit here while we check your credentials etc. to verify that you aren’t a security risk.”
    Hmmm…. Wasn’t expecting that. Bummer because I didn’t have that amount of time left on my trip — but you bet I’ll be ready next time!
    RB

    3
    • scottymac

      Reg Bruce: Since you’re from Ohio, too, you would probably enjoy reading the story about Walter Soplata, if you google his name.

      little_cars: I don’t travel so well any longer, so will probably never get to see the Goose, but a couple years back, I made it to EAA AirVenture and got to tour the Martin Mars. Probably as close as I’ll get, quite the thrill!

      http://airshowstuff.com/v4/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/IMG_3381-846×400.jpg

      2
  19. Alford H Pouse

    Across the street from Chester County Airport in Pa there was another airport that was involved in the recycling of old planes. When I was a kid Dad would stop by to let me check out it out. Old cargo, passenger, war planes. One of the B-17s he had there is still flying. I think it’s with the EAA.

    2
  20. Kirk Ericsson

    What a great side bar or addition to the barn finds page.

    Thank you Adam

    1
  21. Wayne

    I was able to spend a whole day at Pima. (It was not enough time!) I would do it again in a heart beat. The Wings museum by the Seattle airport is cool too. But one that no one has brought up is the Hill Air Force Museum north of Salt Lake City UT. I ran up there for a few hours before I had to catch a plane back to Reno. I almost did not make my flight. This is another place I would do again. It would take me easily all day. Just the aircraft parked outside will take me many hours to see. Great stuff!

    2
    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      Road trip!!

      2
  22. Jetfire88

    For those of us nearer the middle of the country, make sure the SAC Museum near Omaha is a must!

    Exceedingly easy to drive past on the zoomway, when you take the short drive there, you will be amazed. Don’t bump your head on the Blackbird when you walk in…

    https://sacmuseum.org/

    While you in the neighborhood, DO NOT MISS the Speedway Museum In Lincoln NE. After you visit, look at your t-shirt that says “Whoever dies with the most toys
    wins” and go home and throw all your stuff away. Speedy Bill won Big Time.

    https://www.museumofamericanspeed.com/

    Enjoy…

    2
  23. walt

    I love planes, went into USAF in Veitnam, after out lived on back of a Harley 4 years, moved up 2 40′ 5th wheel 4 35+years, now in a regular home. BUT always thought it would b so cool 2 live in a big airplane fuselage [like a B52]. How would I get it, how any sections 2 transport, the cost? So many ?’s but so cool. There is a place outside of Cinninati, Ohio where a dude has several acres & lives in a huge Flying Saucer with 3 landing gear legs, a ctr stairway entrance & space around bottom[ground -belly of saucer] was his carport w/2 Corvettes. Dream come true

    3
    • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

      I read somewhere there is (at least one) old fuselage/home somewhere in the united states that the owner converted with staircase near the landing gear. Wings were reattached once the property was prepped and the wings act as shelter for grilling out/beer cave/picnic area on one side and car parking on the other. I recall seeing photos of it in recent years and my only nit to pick was the fella did not have any propellers mounted (safety concerns? local codes?) or front nose piece.

      1
      • bruce baker

        Yeah there was a early 747 turned into a restaurant. Plus a 727 turned into a house in the middle of a green forest, but i can’t remember where. The 727 is the perfect house, because of the “D B Cooper staircase out the rear end.
        I would love to live in a full size stainless steel Star Ship Voyager or the mean Triple nacelle Enterprise D from “All Good Thing”. Money, & permission to build these ships up on hill tops is all that’s stopping me.

  24. JimmyD

    What a great video!! I don’t know much about the planes that I looked at but have always been intrigued by these awesome machines!

  25. Mark

    Great video. I love aircraft, being a pilot. The last military aircraft I got to fly was a military, (restored) Piper L-4.

    More aircraft “barn finds” please.

  26. David Frank David Frank Member

    California and Arizona have several great air museums. The “Planes of Fame” museum is also at the Chino airport is one of the finest in the country. https://planesoffame.org/
    It’s hard to imagine flying into Chino and not stopping in. Many of their aircraft are airworthy and are used in their airshows. The last time I saw the “practice lunar lander”, the real one, was years ago over at Palmdale sitting in the desert. I hope it eventually was preserved. Pima really is a great place, but it’s a bit sad seeing all those great old birds sitting neglected. They even have the latest Boeing airliners, including a 787. You’ll need to sign up early to tour the boneyard next door, though, because they need to do a security check first.

    • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

      What, no 737s?

  27. Reg Bruce

    A short addition to my previous post:
    When I was at the SAC museum (about 10 years ago) the SR 71 was outside on the tarmac and you could actually go up the attached ladder and peer inside the (closed) cockpit! How cool is that?
    I was surprised to find that they also had an Avro Vulcan at the museum. In response to my question about how it came to be there, the docent actually said very sardonically, “Oh, it was being used in the joint USAF / RAF exercises that we had here a few years back, and when they were over, the crew couldn’t get it to start. So they went home to England and just left it with us.”
    No, I can’t vouch for the veracity of that story but visions of Lucas Electrics were dancing in my head on the drive all the way back to Ohio.

    RB

    1
    • Alford H Pouse

      Every time someone mentions Lucas I flash back to my Sunbeam when the Lord of Darkness struck. Flipped the switch for lights and got smoke.

  28. Don Quirk

    I remembered Chino airport years ago, they had the plane used in the stills for 12 O’CLOCK high! Anyone else remember?

    1
    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      The movie or the TV show?

      FWIW-The movie was based on hat actually happened with the 8th Air Force over Europe and was even factually correct-as much as possibly fo a Hollywood Production..

  29. bruce baker

    Good eye too. As soon as i read the word Harrier from Jamie Palmer, i said what Harrier? Jamie check out the old Movie “Flight of the Intruder”. Or try those Aircraft Quizzes Found on YouTube. I like the one with a photo of SR71 on the cover , as i only got 3 wrong my first try. I think they were incorrect on the U-2 though . Dragon Lady would of been correct if they had mention TR-1 instead of just U-2. I was working at plant 10 Palmdale the day when the U-2 TR-1 was first aloud to be photographed. Yeah with a cute petite/lightweight civilian female model sitting on my hands just barely above the port main wing. I told my Coworkers what just happen, as they all grabbed me away from a sink saying “are you crazy don’t wash your hands”. I broke the news to them she was not nude. All 3 three of them said “soooo” an smelled my hands. I told them to grow up but they still wouldn’t let me wash my hands that day at work.

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