Boneyard: 25 Years of Aircraft Graveyards at Night by Troy Paiva


Troy Paiva – I’ve been using light painted, full moon-lit night photography to capture the abandoned American West for 25 years. Telling the story of the ghosts of America’s Western Expansion, from a post-wild west, post-Route 66, 21st Century perspective has become a never-ending source of inspiration.

My documentarian, yet surrealist–sometimes playful, sometimes haunting work examines the final days of decommissioned military bases, NASA installations, derelict ocean liners, Hollywood prop graveyards . . . and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of abandoned amusement parks, train stations, factories, hospitals, gas stations, hotels, even entire towns–and the intensely exhilarating, yet strangely comforting act of sneaking around in the middle of the night, creating art from their ruins.

Troy Paiva

Fireball XL5  | 2014 |  B-58, Mojave Desert

The one subject that I’ve obsessively shot since the very beginning: aircraft boneyards.

I was an airline brat in the ‘60s and ‘70s, my father was a flight engineer on DC-8s and later 747s for cargo airlines.  I grew up in a house obsessed with aircraft. I recognized early on that flight is one of mankind’s greatest achievements. Even back then, the public had already begun to take it for granted, but for me, the experience of flight will always be exciting.  Yes, I’ve had my share of horribly cramped 18-hour flights, loaded with screaming children and overflowing toilets . . . but the space-age, sci-fi fantasy still takes hold every time I step into the cabin.  A few hours later and I’m on a different continent, another world.  It’s something that just a hundred years ago would have only been the stuff of dreams.

Troy Paiva

Safe Return | 2009 | B-25, The Secret Boneyard

But even so, most people see aircraft as everyday immutable fixtures in their lives.  They have always been there, and they will always be there.  This work reveals the flip-side of that, the finite nature of even this amazing technology.  After a lifetime of exploring modern ruins, I’ve come to embrace the painful beauty in the impermanence of everything humans create.  Aircraft are no different.  It’s just that the boneyards are the most evocative of modern ruins.  Because of my own personal baggage . . . but also because aircraft epitomize a true high point in human accomplishment. [Official Website]

 And now look at them.  Forgotten.  Irrelevant.  Junk.

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