Another Final Trip: Lockheed C-141B Starlifter 64-0649 making it's way to a nearby metal processing company in March 2005. By keeping the C-141 fuselages on their operational landing gear makes the job of transporting them the short distance to the shredder that much easier. You can see that the USAF markings have been painted out as part of the de-miling process.

Picture 2004 Philip Michaels


  

It was inevitable that owing to the rapid retirement of so many Lockheed C-141 Starlifters to AMARC it would not be long before the large scale scrapping of the type began. With no airframe life remaining there is no chance of them returning to the USAF active inventory and with so relatively few C-141 left operational there is no requirement for a large number of reclamation aircraft at AMARC.

Due to the size of the C-141 initial scrapping is being carried out in situ using the same method that has been used on the scrapping over the years of the mighty B-52 Stratofortress. A crane with a slipper gear raises a 13,500lb guillitine blade to a height of approx 60 foot and then drops it, severing the aircraft with ease. This technique appears simplistic but it proves extremely effective.

Picture Gallery
   C-141B 64-0649 Final Trip
   NC-141A 61-2777 Final Trip
   65-0239 C-141B 62ndAW
   65-0234 C-141B 62ndAW
   Rear view of 61-2777
   Front view of 61-2777
   NC-141A 61-2776
   C-141 waiting to be cut
To make their removal more manageable three or four cuts are made to each aircraft , one to each wing, one to the tail section and sometimes one cutting off the nose section. HVF West, a local metal processing company, are responsible for the removal and processing of the remains at their facility located a few miles from the AMARC main gate. Here the aircraft sections are ground down into very small metal fragments which will be ready for smelting down into ingots for recycling. HVF West have been heavily involved with AMARC for a number of years, most notably with the disposal of the B-52 bombers cut up as part of the START II agreement.

The C-141 cutting work was started during July of this year targeting the older arrivals over in the reclamation area. By mid August areas 23 and 24 have been cleared of the type, many examples from area 3 have also been cleared. It is unknown how many have been marked for disposal but there could be another 100 destined to this fate.

Hopefully homes will be found for a few of these aircraft at museums or acting as gate guards although their size makes this extremely a difficult and costly option. Some C-141 nose sections have been seen intact and plugged up using wood in an attempt to preserve them, maybe this signifies that at least parts of some of the aircraft will be saved. It would be a shame for nothing to be left for all the service the C-141 Starlifter has performed for the Air Force over the last 30 years.

The entire C-141 fleet is to be drawn down by the end of 2006.

To read more about the history of the Lockheed C-141 Starlifter click here.