Just outside Tucson, Arizona in the Sonora Desert is the famed Airplane Graveyard-Bone Yard at Davis Monthan Airforce Base. The Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center AMARC is where the U.S. Air Force mothballs planes until they either need them again or it's time to salvage them for parts. Whenever the U.S. sells surplus planes to foreign governments part of the sales pitch is that there will always have a ready supply of spare parts. Some are turned into pilotless drones and used for missile target practice.
The Airplane Graveyard, is not just a fence around piles of out dated scrap metal, millions of dollars of surplus parts are salvaged to keep other active aircraft flying. You can think of this place as a huge warehouse for all types of spare parts which saves taxpayers millions of dollars every year. Many people think the government sells flying airplanes to the general public, this is not true. Anything the government sells, which could cause potential injuries, like a life raft, pilot helmet, or a flying aircraft will be demilled before it leaves the base. Demilling which stands for de-militarize, includes slashing rafts with a razor knife, crushing helmets, or in the case of an airplane chopping the wings off, or cutting the fuselage into three pieces. Some of the aircraft stored at the Bone Yard are turned into remotely controlled drone aircraft like what was done with the F-106 drone program.
There are over 4,000 planes in storage, most now from the Vietnam era. I only wish I'd been able to go in the 60's when there were still planes from World War II there.
Here are some collected story from visitors:
"Every pilot I have ever talked to wants to visit but never does. It's kind of like an elephant graveyard, mysterious, exciting, a place where all kids dreams go. I think that's why not many of the pilots I've talked to have ever really tried to visit. I saw a documentary on the aircraft graveyard. They showed a part where they cut up the B-52's, all my pilot buddies were silent, I think if each of them were alone, they would have been crying."
"It shows the incredible creativity as well as the incredible destruction man is capable of."
"The airplane graveyard is just so erie, you almost can't help but feel sadness to such powerful machines be stripped of their beauty."
The Pima Air & Space Museum located at 6000 East Valencia Road, is now offering tours of Davis-Monthan's AMARC Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center. The tours have proven popular, so reservations are strongly recommended to guarantee seating. Seven days notice is preferable when making a reservation.
For more information: 520-618-4806 or www.dm.af.mil/tours.htm
This was reprinted from http://www.thepepper.com/tucson_airplane_graveyard.html