Next to an autobody shop, off of Ramkhamhaeng Road in Bangkok, an abandoned 747 and two smaller MD-82 planes sit derelict and lying in pieces. Besides the oddity of seeing huge planes lying by the side of the road, you also happen to be looking at a makeshift home.
Junked planes seems to have occupied the yard since at least January of 2010, being first reported as the nose sections of two Boeing 747s. In January of 2014 two MD-82 jetliners formerly operated by Orient Thai Airlines were added. (The MD-82 model was involved in a fatal 89 person crash at Phuket International Airport in 2007 which may explain why there were being scrapped.) By 2015 a 747 had been added as well as another more unusual addition. Three Thai families had made moved in turning the airplanes into their makeshift homes.
Said to be owned by a local businessman who has been selling off parts of the airplanes for scrap, the planes have been stripped of seats, interior paneling, TV sets, and overhead compartments. Flight magazines, oxygen masks, and life vests litter the grounds and interiors. The families who live in the scrap planes have done what they can to make it homey and added and decorated the interiors. Steps up into the planes have been made out of stacked tires, curtains cover the windows, and pictures of the Thai king are taped up inside.
The families that live there say it’s much better than living on the street, and that they can earn money both by bringing found items to a nearby recycling station and by charging an entry fee to tourists curious to visit the planes. The fee is not fixed and varies over time and reports range from 100 to 800 baht per person. Should you visit respect the locals and leave everything in its original state. If people’s curtains are down, or the doors are not open, do not bother them.
Once used to ferry tourists around Thailand, today these planes provide a more essential function: shelter and income to three poor Thai families.
While technically on private property, it seems as some sort of understanding has been reached between the families and the property owner. Should you be stopped by security 100 baht seems to make the property much less private.
Know Before You Go
The Ferry is the best way to get there. Go early to avoid the sauna-like cockpits, and be prepared to pay an ever-changing admission fee of 100 to 800 baht per person.