The lifespan of airplanes is something that rarely crosses one’s mind as they gaze into the sky and notice a metal bird. We are familiar with the sites of airplanes on a tarmac, but what happens to the old planes that are no longer safe to use?
“They’re literally torn apart by an excavator on a slab of concrete in the desert so that the metal can be sold and turned into soda cans,” says Mike Kelley.
Photographer Mike Kelley was taken to an airplane boneyard in the Mojave Desert and was flabbergasted by the imagery of such large structures baking away in the sun. “It was utterly surreal to walk among these enormous airplane carcasses,” he remembers.
This site sparked the idea to show lesser known life of an airplane. “Not many people get to see the life of these airplanes outside of a cursory view from inside a terminal, I love showing these alternate views that reveal the patterns, scale, and complexity of it all,” explains Kelley.
Kelley’s photos are works of a million wonders- from the design of the planes, to the architecture of airports seen from above- this series of photos is just as exciting visually as it is stimulating to learn more about the lifespan of planes. However, the series came at a personal cost for Kelley, “At one point, I had shoulder length hair, but this project made me cut it off because it got so tangled.”
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