Great airplanes never really die.
Some say that is because they were never alive--but the men who fly them know that isn't true. Breath and heartbeat may be denied them, but personality is not; each individual airframe, each type, each family of aircraft has its own individual personality and family characteristics.
Disregard them at your peril . . .
And when old age comes, as it must, obsolescence need not be the end.
One hundred miles north of Los Angeles, at Mojave Airport, there is a place where 727s, 707s, L1011s, Electras--and even DC-3s--go, not to die, but to await new life.
Some are flown there. Some arrive, ignominiously, as truck cargo. But all are welcome.
Hot weather and dry air make the high desert a perfect waiting place, while scavengers begin their work.
First the avionics, instruments and engines for resale and reuse; then the less gentle dissections: "leading edge" items like wing-tips and flaps, may fly again as replacements for such parts as are no longer being manufactured.
And finally comes the scrap heap.
But still the tale goes on. Modern metallurgy has its own story; used steel and aluminum that once has flown may fly again. And again. The sky is still there and still wide. The engine sounds that fill it may be shriller, now, than in years past.
But they go higher, too.
And airplanes--great airplanes--do not die.