Tier Point Run to Grand Cayman in Dec 2013

Bit scary this - my first overseas trip by air on my own! At 47! I’ve always had someone in tow to rely on for finding my way around, or picking up things from hotel rooms when I have left them, and there’s no one but myself to rely on.

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One of the many aircraft seen at SCLA Boneyard
One of the many aircraft seen at SCLA Boneyard
One of the many aircraft seen at SCLA Boneyard
One of the many aircraft seen at SCLA Boneyard

Guide to the Southern California Logistics Airport (SCLA) Boneyard

By Nige on Sat 16 Dec 2023 at 22:32
Type: Post
Story: Tier Point Run to Palm Springs in Dec 2023
Tags: Hertz | Hilton | Reviews | SCLA | Southern California Logistics Airport | Trips | USA | Victorville

The Southern California Logistics Airport (SCLA) has become known world-wide as a major airliner boneyard.

Although restricted to the public, there are viewpoints around the airport that allow visitors to see abandoned aircraft.

With a camera/mobile phone and a good zoom, you can get some decent shots of individual aircraft if you so wish. I’ve always wanted to go, but have never had the opportunity until now.

So, this is what I found when I visited in Dec 2023.

A view of abandoned aircraft in the northern boneyard
A view of abandoned aircraft in the northern boneyard
A view of abandoned aircraft in the northern boneyard
A view of abandoned aircraft in the northern boneyard

Background

The SCLA is located near to Victorville in California on the edge of the Mojave Desert. SCLA is located on the site of the former George Air Force Base.

The George Air Force Base was converted to SCLA to provide major corporations with logistics needs and access to a global logistics gateway to the Western US.

The SCLA has been used extensively during Covid, where airlines stored their active aircraft for extended periods, whilst everyone was in lockdown.

It was also one of the places that was used to hold 737 MAX8 aircraft, whilst that was subject to intense review.

The SCLA has been used in numerous movies over the years, including Contact, Face/Off, Space Cowboys and Ocean’s Eleven.

You can see lots of aircraft at SCLA
You can see lots of aircraft at SCLA
You can see lots of aircraft at SCLA
You can see lots of aircraft at SCLA

Location

SCLA is about 7 miles northwest of Victorville, 50 miles north of San Bernardino and about 90 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

It is located just north of Air Base Road/Air Expressway.

Many of the streets around SCLA are accessible by car, but there are active business and industry areas which are restricted – just follow the signs and don’t go anywhere you shouldn’t!

Note: there are no organized tours are available at SCLA.

The northern SCLA boneyard storage area
The northern SCLA boneyard storage area
The northern SCLA boneyard storage area
The northern SCLA boneyard storage area

Areas of Interest

There are two areas of interest around SCLA if you want to get close-ish to the aircraft stored on the site:

  1. SCLA Main – the area immediately around SCLA – there are some amazing views of aircraft close to the SCLA just by driving around the streets and parking up. All of these roads are paved and in a good state of repair.
  2. SCLA North – the northern part of SCLA – this gives the closest view to the mass of aircraft in long-term storage and visible from above. The final few miles to access the northern viewpoints are via dirt track/gravel/sand tracks, so bear that in mind when considering whether it’s worth the risk using your rental car.

I’ll focus on these two areas separately.

1. SCLA Main

The immediate area around SCLA is the easiest to access and I’ve been explicit about where the best viewpoints are.

A high-level view of the route to visit the main viewpoints around SCLA
A high-level view of the route to visit the main viewpoints around SCLA
A high-level view of the route to visit the main viewpoints around SCLA
A high-level view of the route to visit the main viewpoints around SCLA

1.1 Driving Route

The driving route I took to reach the main viewpoints can be seen in the image here.

This driving route isn’t complicated, so no need to worry. Everything is easily accessible.

Remember to look for signs and follow any instructions provided by those signs.

E.g. if you come across a sign that says you are not allowed to go any further, then please don’t! You are probably not quite in the place you thought you were!

A brief summary of the driving instructions is below:

  1. I approached SCLA from along Air Expressway from Victorville (point A on the map).
  2. I turned right at the junction with Phantom West (point B on the map), heading north.
  3. I drove down a number of roads on the left side of Phantom West, parked up and walked to the fence to take photos. See later for a more detailed description of each viewpoint.
  4. When I eventually reached the junction of Phantom East and Perimeter Road, I turned left to drive north up Perimeter Road.
  5. Just past the High Desert Power site, there’s an access point (point C on the map), which starts off as paved road, then very quickly turns into a dirt road. If you are following this guide, make sure you don’t drive into the High Desert Power site! You can see the security barrier from the road. If you can see a security barrier, you haven’t quite gone far enough north on Perimeter Road.
  6. From this access point, I drove towards the fence on the dirt tracks.
  7. Once I was done here, I headed back to Perimeter Road and then doubled-back on my tracks and headed back to the junction of Air Expressway and Phantom West (point B on the map) and turned right.
  8. The second right turn at a set of traffic lights took me on to Adelanto Road and I drove north for a short distance.
  9. This takes you to the final viewpoint (point D on the map).
A low-level view of the main viewpoints around SCLA
A low-level view of the main viewpoints around SCLA
A low-level view of the main viewpoints around SCLA
A low-level view of the main viewpoints around SCLA

1.2 Viewpoints

That gives you a high-level view of the driving route, but where can you see the aircraft?

The places I found that were easily accessible, with places to park your car for a few mins in order to be able to view aircraft through the fence, can be found in the image here. I’ve labelled these 1-11.

If you have a mobile phone, then you can easily position your lense to look through the gaps in the fence.

If you have an SLR camera, then it’s going to be slightly more difficult, since your lense is likely to be larger.

Some people advise carrying a ladder with you, so you can take photos over the fence. Not sure I would do that to be honest!

A list of the viewpoints is provided below. I’ve just added a single photo against each one. I took a load more, which you can find at the end of this guide!

A couple of Asian aircraft visible from Innovation Drive
A couple of Asian aircraft visible from Innovation Drive
A couple of Asian aircraft visible from Innovation Drive
A couple of Asian aircraft visible from Innovation Drive

Viewpoint 1. Innovation Drive

Heading up Phantom West, the first turn on your left is Innovation Dr.

I drove to the end of the paved road, there’s a fence on the right hand side, just past a building.

I parked my car in the street and I walked up to the fence to have a look what I could see.

Probably not a great deal to see from here, but it was my first opportunity to see some of the aircraft.

An active aircraft parked up near Boeing
An active aircraft parked up near Boeing
An active aircraft parked up near Boeing
An active aircraft parked up near Boeing

Viewpoint 2. Boeing Car Park

Back to Phantom West and I turned left. The next road on the left didn’t look that interesting to me and it’s advertised as Boeing at the entrance, so I drove on past.

The next road on the left, which is opposite Mustang Street provides access to a Boeing parking area. The car park was almost empty when I was there, and there was an active aircraft visible.

I parked up for a few mins so I could take a photo.

An aircraft on display on Cargo Lane
An aircraft on display on Cargo Lane
An aircraft on display on Cargo Lane
An aircraft on display on Cargo Lane

Viewpoint 3. Cargo Lane

Back to Phantom West and I turned left. The next road on the left is Cargo Lane, which has an aircraft positioned next to the road.

I turned in here and parked up along the road to take a photo of the aircraft.

Active aircraft on display from Cargo Lane
Active aircraft on display from Cargo Lane
Active aircraft on display from Cargo Lane
Active aircraft on display from Cargo Lane

Viewpoint 4. Cargo Lane Fence

I carried on up Cargo Lane, right up to the fence at the end of the road.

There were quite a few active aircraft hanging around here.

More aircraft laid to rest at the main entrance to SCLA
More aircraft laid to rest at the main entrance to SCLA
More aircraft laid to rest at the main entrance to SCLA
More aircraft laid to rest at the main entrance to SCLA

Viewpoint 5. Main Entrance/Worley Boulevard

Back to Phantom West and I turned left again. I ignored the next road on the left and carried on to Worley Boulevard, which appeared to be the main entrance onto the apron at SCLA.

I parked up nearby on Readiness Street and walked over to the main entrance, where I found some interesting artefacts on display and got some photos of activity on the apron.

An abandoned 747 viewed from Readiness Street
An abandoned 747 viewed from Readiness Street
An abandoned 747 viewed from Readiness Street
An abandoned 747 viewed from Readiness Street

Viewpoint 6. Readiness Street Car Park

I stayed on Readiness Street and slowly drove northeast.

About 400 yards up this road, a car park appeared on the left-hand side, with easy access to a large stretch of fencing.

This provided me with a wide view of what’s going on and allowed me to see quite a few abandoned aircraft.

A Delta aircraft visible from the end of Readiness Street
A Delta aircraft visible from the end of Readiness Street
A Delta aircraft visible from the end of Readiness Street
A Delta aircraft visible from the end of Readiness Street

Viewpoint 7. The End of Readiness Street

I got back on to Readiness Street and continued driving northeast until I reached the end of the road.

Turning left around the side of the last building on the left, I found another small parking area.

I parked up and took a couple of shots from this vantage point.

A Neos aircraft which was either still in service or was waiting to be stored
A Neos aircraft which was either still in service or was waiting to be stored
A Neos aircraft which was either still in service or was waiting to be stored
A Neos aircraft which was either still in service or was waiting to be stored

Viewpoint 8. US Army Reserve Preservation Center

From the small car park at the end of Readiness Street, I drove back towards Readiness Street and drove straight across the street. I followed my nose, bending around a building to the left.

That took me to the US Army Reserve Preservation Center and on this side of that building, there’s a road to the left that provided access to the fence and another small parking area.

The view of the boneyard in the north of SCLA from Aviation Drive
The view of the boneyard in the north of SCLA from Aviation Drive
The view of the boneyard in the north of SCLA from Aviation Drive
The view of the boneyard in the north of SCLA from Aviation Drive

Viewpoint 9. Aviation Drive

I headed back onto Phantom West and drove eastwards until I reached the junction of Phantom East and Perimiter Road.

I turned left and drove just beyond High Desert Power and turned left on to the dirt track.

All of this area provides a good overall view of SCLA and I got my first view of the large boneyard, accessible from the north.

There is apparently a road in this area called Aviation Drive, but it isn’t easily identifiable on the ground. This whole area is just dirt, but it’s easily drivable.

One of many FedEx aircraft that have been abandoned at SCLA
One of many FedEx aircraft that have been abandoned at SCLA
One of many FedEx aircraft that have been abandoned at SCLA
One of many FedEx aircraft that have been abandoned at SCLA

Viewpoint 10. Aviation Drive

Staying in the same general area, I drove a little further up Aviation Drive and took some more photos from this slightly elevated position.

Parts of abandoned aircraft visible from Adelanto Road
Parts of abandoned aircraft visible from Adelanto Road
Parts of abandoned aircraft visible from Adelanto Road
Parts of abandoned aircraft visible from Adelanto Road

Viewpoint 11. Adelanto Road

The only other place worth spending a few mins at to take a photo or two is to the west of SCLA.

I drove back to Phantom East and then turned right to retrace my steps.

Once I reached the Air Expressway, I turned right and drove a couple of blocks to Adelanto Road, where I turned right.

A short distance up there, I saw some parts of abandoned aircraft on the right-hand side.

That was about it for me in the main SCLA area.

2. SCLA North

The SCLA North area holds the largest number of abandoned aircraft at SCLA.

A high-level view of the route to visit the boneyard to the north of SCLA
A high-level view of the route to visit the boneyard to the north of SCLA
A high-level view of the route to visit the boneyard to the north of SCLA
A high-level view of the route to visit the boneyard to the north of SCLA

2.1 Driving Route

The driving route I took to reach the north of SCLA can be seen in the image here.

This driving route is fine until I reached point F, where I joined Colusa Road. This was all dirt track/gravel.

I found it ok, and I was prepared to take the risk, but others may not be so gung-ho!

If you break down on a dirt track road, a rental company may not look very favourably on coming out to rescue you!

A brief summary of the driving instructions is below:

  1. I approached SCLA from along Air Expressway from Victorville (point A on the map).
  2. After about 2 miles or so, I turned right at the junction with Highway 395 (point E on the map), heading north.
  3. After about 4 miles, I turned right onto Coluso Road (point F on the map) heading east.
  4. I drove very slowly down this dirt track/gravel road. I wanted to be careful to avoid any damage to my rental car.
  5. After 2.7 miles or so, I reached Topaz Road (point G on the map), although there’s no signpost, so I relied on my sat nav telling me where I was.
  6. I turned right on to Topaz Road. I was now on a sand track – to be honest, I was more comfortable driving on this sand track than the Coluso Road dirt track/gravel track.
  7. After about 1 mile heading south down Topaz Road, I reached the fence on the north side of SCLA.
The first aircrafts to be visible from Topaz Road on the right hand side
The first aircrafts to be visible from Topaz Road on the right hand side
The first aircrafts to be visible from Topaz Road on the right hand side
The first aircrafts to be visible from Topaz Road on the right hand side

2.1 Viewpoints

I haven’t made a note of any specific viewpoints on this northern section of this guide.

I stopped at numerous places along the sand track along the top of the northern fence, walked up to the fence and took photos. I’ve included a few below:

These aircraft are the first to be visible from Topaz Road on the right hand side.

The first aircraft I saw when I reached the fence a the north end of SCLA
The first aircraft I saw when I reached the fence a the north end of SCLA
The first aircraft I saw when I reached the fence a the north end of SCLA
The first aircraft I saw when I reached the fence a the north end of SCLA

Once I reached the fence at the north end of SCLA, I had to follow the sandy track around to the left.

The track continues alongside the boneyard for about half a mile.

Another aircraft visible from the north end of SCLA
Another aircraft visible from the north end of SCLA
Another aircraft visible from the north end of SCLA
Another aircraft visible from the north end of SCLA

There’s a real mix of abandoned aircraft at SCLA – it makes for an amazing view with the desert backdrop.

More aircraft visible from the north end of SCLA
More aircraft visible from the north end of SCLA
More aircraft visible from the north end of SCLA
More aircraft visible from the north end of SCLA

By the end of the fence on the north side of SCLA, I had seen enough of abandoned aircraft.

I was now more focused on getting back to the road, which was 3.5 miles away across more sand/dirt/gravel track.

I needn’t have worried too much. I took my time and my rental car breathed a big sigh of relief when I got back to Highway 395.

All Photos from My Visit

Summary

That concludes my visit to the SCLA boneyard in Dec 2023. It was a real experience for me. Interestingly, I didn’t see anyone else doing the same thing as me on the day I visited. If you have half an interest in aircraft, this is well worth a visit.


Follow the whole story here: Tier Point Run to Palm Springs in Dec 2023


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Author Bio: About Nige

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Nige is one of the co-founders of The Billingham Blog and works as a freelance management consultant. He loves to fly in his spare time!

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