Anyone done the boneyard tour in Tucson? [Archive] - Glock Talk

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Texas T
04-12-2004, 22:17
I'm almost ashamed to say it, especially being a Tucson native, but I've never taken the tour. I've driven by the planes for years, and when my mom would drive me on base to go to kindergarten (late 50's) we would sometimes have to wait just inside the main gate as they towed another aircraft from the flight line to graveyard.

I'm going home at the end of the month for my mom's birthday and I plan on doing the tour while I'm there.

Anyone been on it?

M2 Carbine
04-13-2004, 12:38
T, take lots of pictures:)

No, I haven't toured it but I'de like to.


When Ft Wolters was closing I flew a Hughes TH-55 to there.
They may still be there.
It was sure impressive from the air.

They loaded us on a C-47 and flew us back to Mineral Wells in some really bad weather.
Only time I've ridden a C-47.

Texas T
04-13-2004, 12:57
T, take lots of pictures:)
I had planned on it, but your comment reminded me that I need to get a larger memory card. And a second set of batteries. :)

Only time I've ridden a C-47.
Never been in one myself either, but I'm pretty sure that my dad had some time in them. I used to remember hearing the "gooney bird" comments a lot when I was little.

JCM298
04-13-2004, 18:21
I took my kids there many years ago. Transportation was an old, really old, military school bus. The kids loved it but I did not like the ride quality. I understand that the tour vehicles have been improved.

Before I retired, a Security Police sergeant took a couple of us on an "un-official tour" and it was very enjoyable. He took us off the beaten track and we saw some planes that are not on the regular tour.

The Pima Air and Space Museum is worth the trip, too. When they first started putting planes there, I'd slip off I-10 and go snooping. The security guard liked the idea of seeing a marked car in the area. That came to a stop when they finally got the entire property fenced,

John

Texas T
04-13-2004, 21:08
The Pima Air and Space Museum is worth the trip, too.
Been there, done that, a couple of times. I was in a car club back in the 70's that included a member that worked in the restoration shop so I got in for free.

I have not taken the missle site tour yet. Not this trip but maybe in the future.

The security guard liked the idea of seeing a marked car in the area.
TPD?
South Tucson?
Pima County?

dlupini
04-13-2004, 23:41
I have done the tour, it is great. lot of neat stuff to look at, definitly worth the time. It is the 2nd largest standing AF in the world, so you can imagine the size.

BTW: they hate it when you call it a "bone yard" it is AMARC. They feel the term "bone yard" portrays the planes as not being worth anything any more. When in actuality most of the planes in the yard can be "regenerated" and flown in 7 days or less (that's in a combat situation).

Texas T
04-14-2004, 03:58
Originally posted by dlupini
BTW: they hate it when you call it a "bone yard" I'm just showing my age. ;a

DaddyDett
04-14-2004, 05:15
I would like to go back and see it as an adult.
In the early 60's I was a dependant living in Tucson. My Dad used to take us out there to go through the planes on Saturday and Sunday mornings, particularly the aircraft types he had flown.
DaddyDett

Texas T
04-14-2004, 19:23
Originally posted by DaddyDett
I would like to go back and see it as an adult.
In the early 60's I was a dependant living in Tucson. My Dad used to take us out there to go through the planes on Saturday and Sunday mornings, particularly the aircraft types he had flown.
Not sure if this link will work, but this is a satellite shot of the hanger my dad used to work out of... 1950's - 1961. There used to be two of them. This one is still standing. If the link does work and you "back away" on the image you can figure out where it sits...
The very NW corner of the base.
http://terraserver.microsoft.com/image.aspx?t=1&s=10&x=2544&y=17804&z=12&w=2

JCM298
04-14-2004, 19:44
Texas T,

DPS,

John

Wulfenite
04-14-2004, 20:54
Originally posted by Texas T
[B]
I have not taken the missle site tour yet. Not this trip but maybe in the future.

I did the missile site tour a few years back. It was kinda fun. I've got gobs of hours in Titan I bases but never the Titan II that you have down there. Ours was a special tour so we got to go to the lower levels of the silo that are not open to the public.

Bullman
04-15-2004, 21:01
You know, I don't know anything at all about this boneyard so let me ask a question or two.

Do they have any WW2 stuff in this Boneyard? Is any of this stuff salvagable, do they let people buy old junk planes to see if they can be made airworthy again privately?

Just curious, and like they said, take some pics! :)

DaddyDett
04-15-2004, 21:15
Bullman,
At one time, yes they did have "warbirds".
Mostly the aircraft sold were to foreign countries.
As to what policy is now, I don't know.
Perhaps contacting Dept. AF PIO in D.C.?

Texas T,
We rotated in to D-M in July of '61.
My Dad was a Flight Surgeon, flying bombers. I am not sure of the type at that time, but do know he later flew B-52's out of Walker AFB NM.
DaddyDett

Texas T
04-15-2004, 21:47
Originally posted by JCM298
DPS Two of my instructors at Pima College (Crim Justice) were with DPS but I can't think of their names to save my life. One was a sgt and the other a Lt (later promoted to Capt) who taught my traffic law class. This would have been mid-70's so they may have been folks you knew.

My DPS ridealongs were much more interesting than my TPD rides. :)

Better war stories too. ;f

I tested for DPS around 1977 or so. Did great on the written, good on the orals, okay on the physical agility (although I puked my guts out afterwards :)), but got nailed on the physical two weeks before the academy started because of my eyesight. They didn't have LASIK back in those days and my eyes were just too bad to get accepted. :(

They changed the testing procedure after that class to put the physicals up front instead of at the end of the process. I knew going in that my chances of passing were not great but "nothing ventured, nothing gained".

Texas T
04-15-2004, 22:01
Originally posted by DaddyDett
We rotated in to D-M in July of '61.
My Dad was a Flight Surgeon, flying bombers. I am not sure of the type at that time, but do know he later flew B-52's out of Walker AFB NM. We rotated to Andersen (Guam) in '61 for our first tour over there. 63-65 at Westover. 65-72 back on Guam. I didn't return to Tucson until Feb 72 and then left again in 82. I only get home for visits maybe once every two years.

In 61 the B-47 was the mainstay bomber as production on the B-52 was still ramping up. I don't think a B-52 wing was ever positioned at D-M, but the 303 Bomb Wing flying the B-47 was. The B-47 went inactive about 1964 so if he was flying the Stratojet he would have transitioned into the B-52 about that time.

My dad would have been a radio operator on the KC-97 at the time your dad was flying the bombers, so it's likely that they "hooked up" together at some point in time. ;f

Texas T
04-15-2004, 22:05
Originally posted by Bullman
Do they have any WW2 stuff in this Boneyard? Is any of this stuff salvagable, do they let people buy old junk planes to see if they can be made airworthy again privately? There are a number of private contractors in and around the area that buy planes, but primarily to part them out and melt them for scrap. The AF does have periodic auctions but I don't think it's likely that you'd be able to purchase a complete aircraft.

If you were seriously interested in a warbird you'd be better served to check out one of the warbird restorers out in CA. I think Chino CA is the home to one of the better known organizations but you'd need to google it to get the details.

Texas T
04-22-2004, 22:22
Just got a note from my mom; she said there was a show on TV tonight about the boneyard and specifically about the Phantoms. They are getting them flight-ready, testing them, and then setting up the remote controls and using them for target practice.

What a shame. I'd sure love to have one if I ever won the lottery.

Now I ask you... is this a cool picture or what? ;f

http://www.blueangels.org/Tbirds/1971/backside.jpg

Bullman
04-22-2004, 22:49
I bet the ground is coming up to meet them AWFULLY fast!;f

Texas T
04-23-2004, 20:25
Made my reservation... 10 am on the 29th. I'll be back home on the 1st and will try to get some photos posted soon after.

Texas T
04-29-2004, 18:03
Posting this from my Treo - took the tour this morning. It's about 1 hr in length and covers almost the whole property. I took about 70 photos but they are all from inside the tour bus. I'll try to get them posted when I get back to TX later this week.

JCM298
04-29-2004, 18:25
Texas T,

Welcome home,

John

Texas T
05-01-2004, 21:52
Thanks, John. It was good to spend a couple of days with my mom.

While there we got to visit with one of my dad's fellow crew members from Korea. If you review the Korea thread there is a B-29 crew picture in the first posting. He is the 4th from the end on the left side; has his head down a little bit.

I found out that he was 6 years older than my dad and had also flown in WWII as a flight engineer and top turrent gunner on B-24's out of England. He only flew 5 missions and was shot down. He got out after the war, worked for Boeing for a while until Korea started back up and then he went back in on the B-29's.

He moved to the C-124 Globemasters after the war and stayed with them until the C-141 Starlifters came on line in the late 60's. So he flew in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. He'll be 80 yrs old this Sept and isn't in the best of health but his mind is still very sharp. He hates to see the 141's being tore up out at the boneyard since that was part of his AF life.

He has kept all his military records including every flight he's ever been on. That will be going to one of his daughters who is the same age as myself. He's promised to send me anything he finds of my dad, and even mentioned that a couple of nights before my visit (he did not know I was coming) he had a dream in which my father was part of. He was also part of the honor guard at my dad's funeral and we stayed with him and his family for a couple of days after the funeral, so they are pretty close friends in that respect.

Okay, enough of the maudlin stuff... on to the boneyard tour. Next post.

Texas T
05-01-2004, 22:19
Growing up in Tucson we just refered to it as the boneyard, but it was also called "masdac" because it's official term was MSDC or something to that effect. Now it is known as AMARC. I forget the exact definition, but the facility is a storage and disposition site.

There are six contractors that co-exist on the facility and when they are buying airplanes they are paying roughly .47 per pound. The contractors will typically strip the aircraft of everything that can be resold, and then they melt down what's left over into aluminim ingots. The aluminim can you're drinking that beer out of may have come from a melted down C-141.

The F-4 Phantom is the most common aircraft at the facility with over 700 on hand out of a total of approx 5000 aircraft. The planes I remember as a kid: C-124 Globemasters, KC-97 Stratotankers, B-47 Stratojets, etc are all long gone to the smelter.

What you'll see out there now are the aforementioned F-4, F-16, F-111, F-14, F-15, F-18, A-10 (60 are being put back into service), C-130, and many many more. I should have taken notes on all the different models out there. Numerous helicopters too. Incidently, there are six countries still flying the F-4 as an active duty fighter and I think Germany was one of those mentioned.

The planes are either "bagged" using a protective cover like what you would see on a custom car, or they use "spray lat", a vinyl/rubber type material that is sprayed over the aircraft and then painted white. A sprayed aircraft's interior is typically no more than 10 degrees above ambient.

The facility is broken down into four sections, but primarily into two groups; one that is "ready storage" and the other is to be sold. Those planes in ready storage are inspected every 180 days to ensure that the protection is actually protecting the aircraft. They are also pulled out of storage every four years, have all the protection removed, taken to the wash rack and cleaned, fire up the engine(s), ensure all the systems are functional, and then they put it back into storage.

There are engines that have been removed from some aircraft and placed into drums that are then sealed, vacuumed out, and the air replaced with nitrogen to avoid any corrosion.

There are Titan missiles in storage containers, there are wing pylons for the B-52 that enable them to carry clusters of cruise missiles on the wings. Did you know that a B-52 can carry 71,000 lbs of bombs? Did you know that an F-16 can carry a heavier bomb load than a B-29 did in WWII? Did you know that there are grandfathers, fathers, and now sons (or daughters) that have flown the exact same B-52? Did you know that the B-52 is expected to serve until 2040, and possibly until 2052, making it almost 100 years old since the first one rolled off the line?

It was disheartening to see several C-5A Galaxies out there, knowing that we don't have anything else with that kind of capability and you question why they would be taking this out of service.

There were about half a dozen B-1's in storage - what a beautiful airplane they are.

Anyhow, I'm back home, I've got a lot of photos I need to get uploaded so that you can see them, but remember that the photos won't be of very good quality since I had to take them from inside the tour bus and it was VERY dusty that day since the winds were gusting up to 50 mph and sustained at 20-30 mph.

Hey Dig and M2, they had one of the Marine 1 choppers there as well as the chopper than pulled John Glenn out of the ocean, so the helicopter guys were well represented. They have a main aisle called celebrity row where they have at least one example of everything that is out there in storage. There are two "plainclothes" jets out there; a 707 and a 727. The 707 (C-135) was used by special forces outfits to get into and out of airports where we didn't have a formal military presence. It is painted all white with a single blue stripe down the side. The 727 (the ONLY one the AF ever owned) is incognito; no one will tell the AMARC folks what the plane's purpose was... only that it is on a need to know basis and no one there needs to know. So unless you are privy to that info, your guess is as good as mine. I bet it would be interesting to see the insides of that plane.

They had an example of a Looking Glass C-135. I don't know how many different planes fulfilled that role 24/7/365, but I know that my dad made a few flights on one of them so that was of personal interest to me.

Okay, that's it for now until I can get the photos posted. Maybe tomorrow. It was a long day today; due to the weather in Houston we were 4 hours late leaving Tucson and it's time for bed.

T

ColoradoGlocker
05-01-2004, 23:36
.

Texas T
05-02-2004, 14:24
Okay, all the photos have been posted HERE (http://www.thorn.org/amarc.htm)

There are approx 80 photos, and although they are thumbnailed it may take a minute to load if you aren't on broadband.

I didn't remember all the names/models so please feed me your corrections when you find a problem. You'll see an email address on the site to do so.

JCM298
05-02-2004, 15:44
Nice series of photos. I drive past part of it every day on my way home from work.

You picked a fine day to go there. That was one of the windiest days we've had this spring. I work on Benson Hwy and from the 2nd floor, we normally have a good view of the Catalinas. The dust and wind that day blocked them out compeletly, at times.

We had lunch near the airport and one of my buddies was an ATC at D-M years ago. He expalined why a different runway was being used. That day, TIA was using Runway #5 because of the wind. We had a good view of planes making a final and watching them wave their wings because of the wind was interesting.

Air Guard units were practicing fire control techniques and they were here all week. Those C130's were really bouncing around as they landed.

Hope you had a good visit,

John

PS: I think some of your photos show Canberras.

Texas T
05-02-2004, 16:26
Originally posted by JCM298
You picked a fine day to go there. That was one of the windiest days we've had this spring. Yeah, but the day prior was my mom's birthday, and the day after I took her up to the ski lodge on Mt Lemmon so Thursday was the only day open to me. At least we had beautiful weather on the mountain.

I've never ridden the ski lift so maybe next year for that one. :)

Slabside
05-05-2004, 11:49
I've been to the boneyard three times. The last time was about 3-4 yrs ago. At the time, they had just started storing aircraft for the Army. They had rows and rows of Hueys and Loaches. A friend in Tucson is a retired CWO. He has buddies that work over there at AMARC. So, we got a better tour than most folks do. My first trip there, we got to see the slab cutting up the B52s into pieces, as per the treaty. Very interesting operation.

Yes, Pima Air Musem is well worth the visit. They have really grown in the past ten yrs. The collection is worth the time and money.

Thanks for the thread. Good to relive the memories.

Mr. Mysterious
05-20-2004, 22:59
That is so sad... I can't believe they are cutting B1's into scrap...I'll take one, it would make a might cool house.

The sad thing is that our junk would be wanted by nearly every country in the world. Seems so wasteful.

What is the reason for scrapping some of these? Too much time on the airframes or something?

Texas T
05-20-2004, 23:19
Originally posted by Mr. Mysterious
What is the reason for scrapping some of these? Too much time on the airframes or something? Doubtful. Especially on aircraft like the B-1. I seriously doubt that they have any real high time planes in the fleet. Same with the C-5A. Although it's been around for a while, have they really put that many hours on them?

I think it's more a reflection of downsizing; of doing more with less; and not having the funds to properly maintain everything that we have purchased over the years.

I think the SR-71 is a prime example of this; I forget how much those things cost to fly and maintain, but it was a huge number. The fact that they can (could) do some things better and more efficiently than any other piece of technology didn't seem to matter any more.

But for most of the planes being "put to sleep", they serve a higher purpose by providing parts to those aircraft that are still seeing active duty.

Texas T
05-20-2004, 23:22
Originally posted by Mr. Mysterious
That is so sad... You know... that is exactly the feeling that I had as I saw all the various planes sitting on saw horses, laying on the ground in pieces, etc. Sad.

Even more so because the planes I grew up with on the base as they were being moved to the boneyard have all been converted into soda cans decades ago; KC-97s, B-29s, C-124s, and many more that served their time at the end of WWII and into Korea.

;1