Behind a 12-Acre Salvage Yard in Atco

At Wade's Salvage, decommissioned aircraft mingle among vintage buses and abandoned household items.

Wade’s Salvage

Wade’s Salvage Courtesy of Wade’s Salvage

If 2020 has left you with a dystopian worldview, you’ll feel right at home at Wade’s Salvage in Atco. The 12-acre lot is piled high with the detritus of civilization: rusting iron headboards, discarded bicycles and window frames—and countless items of unknown origin.

But what sets Wade’s apart from most salvage yards are the grounded aircraft (or pieces thereof) that loom at every turn. On a tour, Gregory Sharp, nephew of owner Andrew Wade, points out the decomposing carcasses of F-86 Sabre jets from the era of the Korean War. Immense cockpits balance incongruously atop vintage buses. Jet engines serve as planters for weeds.

At 17, Wade, the son and then employee of the original owners, bought two wrecked airplanes for $40 at an auction. “That’s what started me in the airplanes,” he says. He continues to acquire decommissioned aircraft. Some are melted down; others live on for use as film and TV props. That arm of the business sprouted when a location scout for the film Eddie and the Cruisers decided the yard would be an ideal backdrop for the story of a defunct rock band.

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Since then, thanks to a relationship with the New Jersey Film Commission, props from the yard, and the yard itself, have had star turns in TV series and such dark movies as The Invasion (for a scene involving a space shuttle crash) and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

Wade continues to seek objects of historical significance, and of course, “more military stuff, more aircraft.”

Photographer Richard Lewis conducts occasional tours/workshops at the salvage yard. Contact [email protected].

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