Summer is hot on our heels as temperatures have been soaring toward triple digits here in the Bay Area. The sudden warm up this week gives us the perfect opportunity to feature this month’s scorching photo taken above California’s high desert.
On a recent flight, we had the opportunity to land at the Mojave Air and Space Port. Upon arrival, we quickly realized, it is not just another desolate airstrip in the middle of desert, but, rather a piece of history that happens to be home to one of the aircraft graveyards on the West Coast. On a remote corner of the airfield, Mojave has become the final destination for thousands of commercial aircraft for many decades. From various generations of 747s, to Tri-Jets, biz-jets, and even some classic fighters, some aircraft may be parked for short term storage but most have retired from service and are being parted out or scrapped.
The Mojave Air and Space Port has evolved tremendously since its opening in 1935. A small rural airfield that once served the gold and silver mining industry, has today, emerged as the leading aerospace test center for commercial operations in North America. In 2004, the airport became “America’s First Inland Spaceport.” The National Test Pilot School, one of the only accredited civilian test pilot centers in the U.S. is also located on the field.
There are many tenants at Mojave playing a vital role in the Aerospace Industry. One of the most notable is Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites, which is well known for the development and journey of the Model 76 Voyager and SpaceshipOne. In 2005, Rutan joined forces with Richard Branson to create The Spaceship Company to build a fleet of WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo reusable space-transports to support the Virgin Galatic human spaceflight program.
As we piled in the airplane to continue our journey home, we even got to witness the high altitude flying Scaled Composites Proteus return from a mission and taxi back to base. If that wasn’t exciting enough, as we headed for the runway, a friendly voice from the tower informed us that to our right was the last flying Lockheed L-1011 TriStar, the “Stargazer” – the mother ship that carries the Pegasus Rocket.
If you’re drivin’ or flyin’ by, I would highly recommend you to explore Mojave.
P.S. The chili at restaurant is good too! Even on a hot day.
Have a great June,
Tayler B. Schmitt