By JB Clark
TUPELO – Among the hundreds of people who toured Universal Asset Management’s airplane hangar and disassembly facility Saturday were many curious children who loved planes – children CEO Keri Wright said she hoped would grow up with a love of aviation and become pilots.
Wright and her staff opened up their facility at the Tupelo airport to show community members what happens to all the planes community members see flying over their homes or parked at the airport.
Amy Benjamin of the East Union community brought her family to tour the facility. She said they saw the planes in various states of disassembly when they travel to the furniture marker but always thought it was just an airplane graveyard.
“We learned today they do lots of recycling and send the parts back out all over the world,” Benjamin said. “We learned a lot that we had no idea happened here.”
Wright led one of the many tour groups through their disassembly process and then through a Boeing 747 from Fiji.
“I thought it was fantastic,” said Tom Kimmel of Tupelo. “I understood it was more than junking airplanes going into the tour but (Wright) said they sell or recycle over 70 percent of the planes and their goal is to recycle over 90 percent by 2015. I’m really impressed by that.”
The tour was the first time the company has opened its doors to the general public and Wright said she was pleasantly surprised by the turnout.
“I think it’s great we have the opportunity to share the love of aviation we have and let everyone see and touch the airplanes,” She said. “I didn’t expect this many people.”
The line for tours wrapped around the Universal Asset Management parking lot at 2:30 p.m. when tours began.
Along with the tours of the plane, participants were shown a video of how the planes are disassembled and then re-certified and redistributed throughout the world. They also were shown the furniture made out of parts that can’t be sold, much of which decorates the facility’s break rooms.
They will continue to do tours the first Saturday of each month in 2014 at 2:30 p.m.