America’s Boneyard: Davis-Monthan AFB

This article authored by: Rob Hallberg

Tucson Arizona Air Force BaseIf you live in the Tucson area, you are probably no stranger to the Aircraft “Boneyard” on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.  “Boneyard”, of course, refers to the large number of aircraft that sit in storage at Davis-Monthan.

The “Boneyard” is under the command of the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) , which is the sole aircraft boneyard and parts reclamation facility for all excess government and military aircraft. AMARG is also responsible for converting old fighter jets, such as the F-4 Phantom, into aerial target drones (As an aside, it’s a little sad for me to hear of their retirement. I remember when they were first brought into service and National Geographic published a photo showing the F-4 and all of its armament).

Many of the aircraft are visible on the West side of Kolb Road just North of Irvington. The planes are visible all the way to Escalante, and if you take a left there you can see them on the south side of Escalante.  AMARG’s typical inventory comprises more than 4,400 aircraft which makes it the largest storage and preservation facility in the world.

Calling it a “Boneyard” is somewhat of a misnomer, as the name implies a cemetery or where planes go to “die”. But some of these planes may be returned to active service.  AMARG classifies each aircraft according to its potential and future use:

Type 1000: These aircraft are set up for long-term storage, as they have a high potential for being returned to Davis Monthan, Tucson AFBservice and no parts may be removed from them.

Type 2000: These aircraft are used primarily for parts to keep other planes in service.

Type 3000:   These aircraft are on a “flying hold” and are kept in near flyable condition for transfer to another unit or sale to another country.

Type 4000: These are excess aircraft which may be gutted for spare parts and eventually sold, broken down into scrap and recycled.

Tours of the Boneyard are held during the week but not on the weekends due to Base Gate Restrictions.  During peak season (1/15 through 4/15), tours start at 10:00am, 11:30am, 1:30pm and 3:00pm. Tickets are $7.00 for Adults and $4.00 for Children under 13. They may be purchased online and here is a link for more information:  Boneyard/AMARG Tour.

Rob and Catherine Hallberg are Associate Brokers with Long Realty, a Berkshire-Hathaway Affiliate and Southern Arizona’s largest Brokerage. Since 2008, they have been ranked in the top 5% to 8% of all U.S. REALTORS®. Send Rob and Catherine an email for a fast response to your questions; for an even faster response, Call (520) 407-8667.

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