Anyone who knows the attractions around Tucson and has read this blog for a bit will have been expecting this post.  Davis-Monthan AFB is home to what is called the boneyard of military aircraft.  The dryness of the Arizona desert means that there is very little risk of oxidation and planes can be stored there for a long time without significant degradation of the materials.

There are two sections to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Restoration Group’s grounds on the air force base.  One section is filled with aircraft expected to fly again, the other is a scrapyard.  The aircraft there are will never fly again and are used as a source of spare parts for other planes of the same model.  The coach tours through both sections operated by the civilian aircraft museum across the street enters the base past countless Lockheed C130 Hercules all mothballed with the expectation of flying again.

We even saw one with a Norwegian flag on it.  Norway obviously decided not to operated this ‘plane for a while and are storing it in Arizona.  And on the topic of storage, you will have noticed that the aeroplanes in the picture above all have white markings on them.  This is a specially developed plastic/rubber/sealant material which is applied all points at which air or water (or sand!) could enter the body of the ‘plane to ensure it is airtight during its storage time.  The engines are all removed and stored in these tanks which have all the air pumped out them and replaced with nitrogen.

engines in barrels


Helicopters are also in storage here.  Their blades are removed, although I can’t remember where they are stored, whether it is inside or whether they have special containers for them like the engines.

helicopters sans blades


There are lots and lots of F16s at the boneyard too.  Many are already or waiting to be converted into remote-operated aircraft (drones) and used for fighter pilot training off the Florida coast.  One may as well have a full sized plane to have a practice dogfight with that can be shot down without human casualties.  You can tell those have have already been converted because their tails are painted orange.

F16s for drone and trainig


More on Saturday….

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