A vist to several airports in northeastern Arkansas has revealed several airliners that have found new duties in life after retiring from flying. Some are obvious, some are not so obvious.
Our first stop is at West Memphis Municipal Airport in West Memphis, Arkansas. A 727-200 donated by FedEx to Mid-South Community College can be seen still in full FedEx colors. The aircraft is being used to support the college's aviation maintenance technology program. According to Aviation Week Intelligence Network's Fleet database, the aircraft is a 1979 model originally operated by Air Canada. Interestingly, the aircraft was flown into Stuttgart, Arkansas, and transported to West Memphis in pieces as West Memphis Municipal's Airport could not accomodate a 727 landing.
Our next stop is Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, where we find a retired Southwest Airlines 737-200 being used as a restaurant. According to Aviation Week Intelligence Network's Fleet database, this particular aircraft flew for Southwest Airlines from 1982 to 2004.
A drive down to the south end of the airport reveals an old Varig 777-200 fuselage stripped of all useful parts. According to Aviation Week Intelligence Network's Fleet database, this 777-200 was originally delivered to British Airways in 1995, but retired from service with Varig in 2006. Its placement on what appears to be permanent supports near the approach end of runway 4 suggests the airframe continues to be used for some purpose. An inquiry into the fuselage's purpose provided no details except that its use is "classified".
Photo credits: Brian Bostick