Aircraft engineer Dan Baker expected his career would let him see the world. And since starting as an apprentice aged 16 with British Airways in London, it’s taken him to Africa, the Caribbean, New Zealand and the Middle East, where he worked for Emirates.
Now he’s in a desert of a different sort — Australia’s vast red center. With the coronavirus pandemic upending global aviation and putting millions out of work, Baker has found an unlikely job in Alice Springs, storing and maintaining scores of grounded jumbo jets.
“I had to do a bit of looking up to see what life would be like,” Baker, 49, says of his new surrounds, a remote town of 25,000 better known as a jumping off point for famous sights like Uluru and the Olgas. “So far, it’s been great.”
The Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage facility (APAS) makes a strange and eerie sight, with the flat landscape punctuated by familiar tall tail fins against a brooding desert sky. More than 100 planes are stored at the purpose-built facility adjacent to the airport, which can keep jets maintained and ready to be brought back into service when needed. Despite spiraling Covid-19 case numbers in Europe and the U.S., some are returning to the skies.