Mojave Air and Space Port (MHV) in California


The Early Days of Flight at Mojave

Aerial view of the Mojave air field in 1943

The City of Mojave is located in the California desert about 95 miles north of Los Angeles, near Edwards Air Force Base, on Highway 58 between Barstow and Bakersfield.

The Mojave Airport was first opened in 1935 as a small, rural airfield serving the local gold and silver mining industry.

With the advent of World War II, the U.S. Marine Corps took over the field in 1942, and expanded it into a training facility known as the Marine Corps Auxiliary Air Station (MCAAS) Mojave.

During World War II the field trained thousands of Navy and Marine pilots for combat, using SBD dive bombers and F4U Corsairs.

MCAAS was decommissioned in 1946, and became a U.S. Navy airfield. At the end of 1953, the USMC reopened MCAAS Mojave as an auxiliary field to MCAS El Toro. In 1961, Kern County obtained title to the airport.

Entrance sign at the Mojave Air & Space Port ... "Imagination Flies Here"
Entrance sign at the Mojave Air & Space Port ... "Imagination Flies Here"

 

Mojave Airport (MHV) Today

Today, the Mojave Air and Space Port and industrial park is home to more than 60 companies engaged in flight development, highly advanced aerospace design, flight test and research, the wind industry, heavy rail industrial manufacturing, and airliner storage and reclamation.

The tower at Mojave Airport in the California desert
The tower at Mojave Air and Space Port in the California desert (photo courtesy of the Mojave Air and Space Port)

Tenants include the National Test Pilot School, Virgin Galactic, BAE Systems, Orbital ATK, Scaled Composites, ASB Avionics and many more. Related facilities include the Stuart O. Witt Event Center, Monster Fitness and the Voyager Restaurant.

The airport is assigned FAA Identifier MHV, and is located at 2,787 feet above sea level. Runway 12/30 is 12,503 feet in length, 200 feet wide.

It is the first facility to be licensed in the United States for horizontal launches of reusable spacecraft, being certified as a spaceport by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2004. The development and launch of the experimental SpaceShipOne was arguably the biggest "first" in the history of Mojave Air and Space Port.

Mojave is also the location of the filming of many major film productions. The Mojave Air and Space Port website offers details about movie production and includes an extensive location/set gallery.

 

FAA Diagram of the Mojave Air and Space Port

FAA Diagram of the Mojave Air and Space Port

 

Aerial view of the Mojave Air & Space Port with airliners in storage (Mojave Transportation Museum)
Aerial view of the air field with airliners in storage (Photo courtesy of the Mojave Transportation Museum)

 

Airliner Storage and Reclamation at Mojave

The Mojave airport is also a storage facility for commercial airliners, due to its vast area and dry, low-humidity desert conditions. The area is located in a remote area away from large metropolitan areas and other major airports.

Large Boeing, Airbus, McDonnell-Douglas, and Lockheed aircraft owned by major airlines are stored at times at Mojave.

Some aircraft reach the end of their useful lifetime and are scrapped at the Mojave aircraft boneyard, while others are refurbished and returned to active service.

Boeing 747 airliners from Atlas Air and Southern Air in storage at the Mojave Airport in the California desert
(photo courtesy of the Mojave Air and Space Port)
Boeing 747 airliners in storage at Mojave Airport in the California desert

Airbus airliners stored at the Mojave Air and Space Port in the California desert
(photo courtesy of the Mojave Air and Space Port)
Airbus airliners stored at the Mojave Airport in the California desert

 

Boeing 747 being reclaimed at the Mojave Airport boneyard in California
Boeing 747 being reclaimed at the Mojave Airport (courtesy of the Mojave Air & Space Port)

The Last Qantas Boeing 747 Sent to Mojave in 2020

Qantas Boeing 747 "Wunala" departing Sydney, Australia on July 22, 2020
Qantas Boeing 747 "Wunala" departing Sydney, Australia

During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Qantas Airlines is sending its fleet of Airbus A380s and Boeing 747s to desert storage in the Western USA.

The last 747, VH-OEJ, named "Wunala", left Australia in July of 2020. Operating as Flight "QF7474", it flew from Sydney Airport on July 22, with its takeoff witnessed by hundreds of spectators and airplane spotters. The aircraft was a 747-438(ER), delivered to Qantas in July of 2003, making the plane 17 years old. The last leg of the final flight was made on July 24, 2020, flying from LAX to the Mojave Airport.

Crew of Flight QF7474 before departure from Australia on July 22, 2020. Qantas’ first female Captain, Sharelle Quinn, who has flown with Qantas for 36 years, was in command of this final 747 flight (Photo courtesy of Qantas)
Crew of Flight QF7474 before departure from Australia on July 22, 2020

 

Read more about Qantas farewell 747Qantas Farewells "Queen of the Skies"

Touring the Mojave Air and Space Port

Aircraft scrapping at Mojave Airport in CaliforniaAircraft scrapping at Mojave Airport in California
Photo by the AirplaneBoneyards.com Staff

The Mojave Air & Space Port does not offer tours to the public. However, they do invite visits during the monthly “Plane Crazy Saturdays" to see the airport, static displays and possible fly-ins. Contact the Mojave Chamber of Commerce for dates and details.

The Voyager Restaurant is located in the airport terminal building, under the old tower adjacent to transient parking. It is open 7 days a week, for breakfast and lunch.

During official, major events, visitors should enter the airport property from the south on Airport Boulevard at the Highway 58 entrance. They will be directed to specific areas for parking and viewing.

Also, the airport offers a Mojave Air and Space Port Virtual Driving Tour. The virtual tour includes 9 stops around the facility that highlight its major attractions. Very well done!

For directions to the Mojave Air and Space Port, see the interactive map at the bottom of this page.

As always, we recommend obeying all warning signs and avoiding restricted areas.

For more information, contact the East Kern Airport District, 1434 Flightline, Mojave, CA 93501. Phone 661.824.2433. Or visit the official website of the Mojave Air and Space Port


Another Major Desert Boneyard: The Southern California Logistics Airport (SCLA) in Victorville

The Southern California Logistics Airport (SCLA) is located in Victorville, California. Also known as Victorville Airport, it is home to many aviation related businesses, including Southern California Aviation, a large transitional facility for commercial aircraft.

The City of Victorville is located on Interstate Highway 15 between the San Bernardino area and Barstow. SCLA is about 7 miles northwest of the city. The facility is located on the site of the former George Air Force Base, in active service from 1941 to 1992.

During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, airlines from around the world are parking some of their fleets at Victorville.

For example, Qantas Airlines is sending its fleet of Airbus A380s to Victorville for storage.

... about the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville


Map of major aircraft boneyards in California relative to Los Angeles

Map of major airplane boneyards and storage facilities in California

Photos of the Mojave Airport in California

Welcome to the Mojave Airport sign ... circa 2004
Operated by the East Kern Airport District, and home to the Civilian Flight Test Center
(Airplane Boneyards staff photo)
Welcome to the Mojave Airport - Operated by the East Kern Airport District, and home to the Civilian Flight Test Center

Convair 990 Jetliner gatekeeper on display at the entrance to the Mojave Airport
NASA's N810NA Space Shuttle landing gear system test aircraft (Airplane Boneyards staff photo)
Convair 990 Jetliner gatekeeper on display at the entrance to the Mojave Airpor

Lockheed L-1011 "Stargazer" of Orbital ATK parked at the Mojave Airport in California
(photo courtesy of the Mojave Air and Space Port)
Lockheed L-1011 "Stargazer" of Orbital ATK parked at the Mojave Airport in California

Rows of airliners in storage at the Mojave Airport in the California desert
(photo courtesy of the Mojave Air and Space Port)
Rows of airliners in storage at the Mojave Airport in the California desert


McDonnell-Douglas jetliners being disassembled at the Mojave Airport in the California desert
McDonnell-Douglas jetliners being disassembled at the Mojave Airport in the California desert

Airliners of the world being reclaimed at the Mojave Air and Space Port in the California desert
Airliners of the world being reclaimed at the Mojave Airport in California

Aerial view of the Mojave Airport with dozens of jetliners in storage (Mojave Transportation Museum)
Aerial view of the air field with airliners in storage (Photo courtesy of the Mojave Transportation Museum)

Close-up, aerial view of airliners being disassembled and reclaimed at the Mojave Airport boneyard in California
Close-up, aerial view of airliners at the Mojave Airport boneyard in California

Aerial view of runways and airliners in storage at California's Mojave Air and Space Port
Aerial view of runways and airliners in storage at Mojave Airport


Mojave Air & Space Port in the News

Mojave Air and Space Port votes to adopt Rutan name change
Antelope Valley Press - 12/08/2021
History of Mojave, California
Mojave Desert News - 08/17/2021
Memories of the Mojave Air & Space Port boneyard
Antelope Valley Press - 01/03/2021
Lufthansa Sending Boeing 747s to Retirement in the Mojave Desert
Simple Flying - 11/04/2020

Revamped Plane Crazy is returning

Read the story at Antelope Valley Press - 6/19/2020

Oldest Qantas 747 Retires to the Desert

Boeing 747-438 VH-OJM of Qantas has operated its last revenue flight, and is being retired to the Mojave Airport.

Read the full story at Australian Aviation- 7/31/2017

Bigger Than the Spruce Goose

A look at Paul Allen's giant Stratolaunch rolled out at the Mojave Airport.

Read the full story at KQED- 6/2/2017

 

Historic US Route 66 in California

History of the City of Mojave, California

Mojave, California was established in 1876 when the Southern Pacific Railroad laid out the original plat for a town on its line between Los Angeles and San Francisco over nearby Tehachapi Pass. Mining and transportation have played key roles in Mojave's history, and gold was discovered in 1894 on Soledad Mountain and at other nearby locations.

Borax also played a role in Mojave's history, especially between 1884 and 1889 when the famous 20-Mule Team Wagons hauled borax between mines in Death Valley and the railroad in Mojave, a 160 mile, 15-day trip.

Links and More Resources about Mojave

Special Report: How Airliners Are Scrapped and Recycled

Mojave Air and Space Port

 

Mojave Transportation Museum

 

Mojave Chamber of Commerce

 

Visit Mojave

 

Kern County Tourism Bureau

Interactive Map of Mojave California

Map of locations of active and post-WWII airplane boneyards and plane storage facilities in the United States and worldwide

click to view interactive map of airplane boneyards and aircraft storage facilities in the United States and around the world


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