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The Chilling Pandemic Note Delta Airlines Pilot Left in Plane That Was Parked for 435 Days

The Chilling Pandemic Note Delta Airlines Pilot Left in Plane That Was Parked for 435 Days

The chilling pandemic message that a Delta Air Lines pilot left attached to a tray table of an Airbus A321 aircraft sent into long-term storage as the pandemic first struck has been unearthed 435 days later. The ‘time capsule’ was discovered after demand picked up so much, the Atlanta-based airline decided to reactivate the plane.

First Officer Chris Dennis attached the note to the tray table of ship 3009 on March 23, 2020, after parking it amongst row upon row of other Delta planes at Victorville airport in Southern California – the famed desert plane boneyard that has been the new home to hundreds of surplus planes from airlines around the world.

Chris picked up the trip from Minneapolis–Saint Paul International to Victorville just as the pandemic was first decimating the airline industry and at first, he didn’t realize that the flight was to put the aircraft into long-term storage. “It wasn’t until we were on final approach headed in for landing when it hit me,” Dennis explains.

“The VCV instructions noted to go behind a ‘follow-me vehicle’ that brings you to a parking spot. As we crossed the runway: Delta aircraft. It’s hard to fathom how many aircraft Delta has until you see that many of them parked in one place.”

“I thought about how many people’s jobs rely on just one of those airplanes,” Dennis said. “From the Reservations agent, to the ticket agent, to the pilot, flight attendants, mechanics, the ramp crew. Then you go a level deeper: the rental car agency, the hotels, the tourism companies.”

Ship 3009 was scheduled to be parked for 14-days. But 435 days later, on June 1, 2021, a different Delta pilot, First Officer Nick Perez dropped the tray table and found the message that Chris had left.

“Hey pilots – It’s March 23rd and we just arrived from MSP. Very chilling to see so much of our fleet here in the desert. If you are here to pick it up then the light must be at the end of the tunnel. Amazing how fast it changed. Have a safe flight bringing it out of storage!” the message read.

Not that ship 3009 was left alone all that time. Engineers had to pay it regular visits and during its stay in long-term storage, engineers ‘borrowed’ some parts for other planes in service – in fact, 120 different parts in total were loaned to other aircraft during its stay in the desert.

Ship 3009 might now be out of longterm storage but there are still plenty of aircraft stuck in desert awaiting demand to pick up still further – mostly international travel which is still heavily impacted by continuing travel restrictions.

Photo Credit: Felipe Sanchez /

View Comments (3)
  • The headline on this article was nothing but click bait. The note wasn’t “chilling” at all. Just a reflection on how sad this guy felt at having to leave his ship in the desert. I hate this kind of shabby journalism.

    • Um, who cares if the word “chilling” is in the title or not…? Just because they used the wrong adjective doesn’t make the entire article clickbait. Cool your jets.

  • As a Delta Flight Attendant , it is such a blessing that we are coming to the END of the Pandemic ! Thankful for the vaccine and for all the frontline workers who made a difference ! Love my Delta ! Thankful for all who work so hard to make our planes safe and our passengers happy ! These Pilots , I know must have been so disheartened to think they were parking it in the desert !
    Thankful we are slowly coming back to Normal. Delta is a great company that stands with their Employees.

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