Aircraft Boneyards


Perhaps the largest surplus aircraft storage area (known as a "boneyard") in the world is located at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. This facility stores, refurbishes, and scraps retired aircraft for all military services, and the vast acerage is full of old Air Force and Navy aircraft. These planes are generally kept until there is no longer any need for their parts, and the remnants are then scrapped or donated to museums. Some of the most common sites at present include the F-4 Phantom II, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-14 Tomcat, and C-141 StarLifter.

Some commercial airliners are also stored at Davis-Monthan's AMARC facility, but these are elderly airliners that were retired and purchased by the military for spare parts. For example, a number of Boeing 707 aircraft were purchased to supply parts for the related KC-135. Otherwise, Davis-Monthan is not the primary boneyard for commercial aircraft.

Several other facilities throughout the southwestern United States are used to store commercial aircraft for various periods. Close to Davis-Monthan and located 30 miles north of Tucson is the Pinal Airpark, home to the Evergreen Air Center. A large storage location is at Mojave Airport, a 3,000 acre facility located near Edwards Air Force Base in the town of Mojave, California. Further south is the Southern California Logistics Airport situated on the site of former George Air Force Base in Victorville, California. Other southwestern airports with large boneyards include Phoenix Goodyear in Arizona, Abilene Regional in Texas, and Roswell International in New Mexico.

Commercial airliners stored at Mojave Airport
Commercial airliners stored at Mojave Airport

These sites and others like them are used for temporary storage of surplus airliners during periods of decreased air travel, such as during the recession of the early 1990s or in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Aircraft sent to these locations usually remain there for a few months or years awaiting sale to other airlines or to scrapyards. To learn more about "boneyards" up close, we recommend taking a guided tour of the AMARC facility at Davis-Monthan. Tours are scheduled every weekday through the Pima Air & Space Museum.
- answer by Jayme O'Sullivan, 10 June 2001


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