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Dyess Air Force Base

Abilene, Texas is home to two major air facilities.

Abilene Regional Airport in Abilene, Texas ... boneyard with Saab 340 airliners

Dyess Air Force Base is an active, strategic United States Air Force base located in the southwest area of the city. It is home to the 7th Bomb Wing, which flies the B-1B "Lancer" bomber, and supporting personnel and groups. Its history dates back to 1942 when it was established as Abilene Army Air Base (AAB).

Dyess features a "Linear Air Park", a collection of about 30 military aircraft from World War II to the present. It is located along the base's main road, Arnold Boulevard. Among the aircraft displayed at a B-52, B-47, B1B, F-100, F-105, KC-137, KC-97, C-130, and others. Contact the air base public affairs office regarding access to the park, and requesting tours.

Abilene Regional Airport (ABI)

Abilene Regional Airport is in the southeast section of the city, covers an area of 1,686 acres, and serves the commercial air needs of a large portion of central Texas.

Its modern terminal building has seen many expansions and improvements over the past decade. The upper level houses airline ticket counters, a restaurant, gift shop, airport offices, and two departure gates, each with Jetway boarding bridges. The lower level has two baggage carousels, and car-rental agencies. The airport features 7,000+ foot runways.

American Eagle Saab 340 Storage Facility

Abilene Regional is also home to Eagle Aviation Services, Inc., a heavy-maintenance base for all American Eagle aircraft. All airplanes in the American Eagle fleet are maintained at ABI.

In addition, ABI is the storage locale of about 20 retired Saab 340B aircraft from American Eagle (AE) Airlines, built between 1990 and 1993. The turboprops are parked in a north corner of the airport’s property, along Navajo Trail, near the intersection of Loop 322 and State Highway 36. Reports are that they will remain there until they are sold. Other AE Saab 340s are stored in Arizona.

American Eagle started using the 34-seat Saab aircraft to make short regional connector flights in the mid-1980s. They were in active service until about 2002. The American Eagle fleet of Saab 340s once numbered as many as 115.

When American Eagle started looking for a place to store the Saabs, the decision was made to store the planes in Abilene as they would be close to the maintenance base where they could be kept in condition to be sold. While not as dry as airliner storage facilities in Arizona or New Mexico, Abilene's climate is dry enough to preserve the planes.

The Saabs are parked in an area of the airport on concrete pads, actually the foundations of hangars destroyed years ago by windstorms.

As done at other aircraft boneyards, the engines are “pickled,” meaning fluid and oil is pumped through the fuel system to prevent corrosion. Other parts such as flight controls and landing gear are also lubricated. Some of the floor boards are removed to allow the cabins to be ventilated, and reflective material covers the windows to keep the light out. Seats are removed from their tracks so the metal does not corrode, and open entry points that could potentially allow access by birds or other wildlife are sealed with plastic. 

Saab 340 History and Production

The first flight of the 340 was in January, 1983, with final assembly being done in Sweden. A total of 159 340A were built, along with 200 340B models and an additional 100 340B-Plus aircraft. Most models featured seating for 34 passengers, although configurations with 30 and 36 seats were also produced.

Aerial Views of American Eagle Saab Storage Area at Abilene Regional Airport

Aerial view of American Eagle Saab 340 airliners stored at Abilene Regional Airport (Bing Maps)
Aerial view of American Eagle Saab 340 airliners stored at Abilene Regional Airport (Bing Maps)

Photos of Abilene Airport airliner storage courtesy of the PlanesOfthePast Staff

American Eagle Airlines Saab 340 airliners in storage at the Abilene Airport in Texas (October 2012)
American Eagle Airlines Saab 340 airliners in storage at the Abilene Airport in Texas (October 2012)
American Eagle Airlines Saab 340 airliners stored at the Abilene Regional Airport in Texas (October 2012)
American Eagle Airlines Saab 340 airliners stored at the Abilene Regional Airport in Texas (October 2012)
American Eagle Saab 340B airliners parked at the Abilene Regional Airport in October 2012
American Eagle Saab 340B airliners parked at the Abilene Regional Airport in October 2012
Rows of American Eagle Saab 340 airliners, Abilene Regional Airport, October 2012
Rows of American Eagle Saab 340 airliners, Abilene Regional Airport, October 2012
American Eagle Airlines Saab 340 airliners ... some with tail sections and engines removed
American Eagle Airlines Saab 340 airliners ... some with tail sections and engines removed

Interactive Map of the Abilene Regional Airport area (Courtesy of Google Maps)

Map of locations of active and post-WWII aircraft boneyards/storage facilities in the United States (courtesy of Google Maps)

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