Old Airplanes Find New Life in Tucson”s Famed Boneyard

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Retired F-16 Fighting Falcons sit at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group’s Aircraft and Missile Storage and Maintenance Facility on Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ, on August 2, 2017. The AMARG is the largest aircraft storage and preservation facility in the world (U.S. Force photo by Staff Sgt. Perry Aston).
Retired F-16 Fighting Falcons sit at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group’s Aircraft and Missile Storage and Maintenance Facility on Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ, on August 2, 2017. The AMARG is the largest aircraft storage and preservation facility in the world (U.S. Force photo by Staff Sgt. Perry Aston).

November 19, 2019 | Originally published by Date Line: November 19 on

As boneyards go, this place is pretty lively.

Before many Tucsonans have even started their morning commute, a pair of aircraft mechanics are already crouched over the open cockpit of an F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet, disarming the ejector seat and removing the explosives.

Nearby, a towing crew pulls a Navy P-3 Orion anti-submarine aircraft over to the “flush farm” to be drained of its fuel. Then, they hook up to a different F-18 and haul it to the “wash rack” for perhaps the last thorough cleaning it will ever get.

Meanwhile, about a mile away, a small army of specialty painters fans out across a dirt lot to spray protective coating on row after row of mothballed C-130 Hercules transport planes.

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