Thursday 5 January 2017

The Aircraft Boneyard

Today is the birthday of a special guy from back home.  RJ is part of our family, and he likes to read our blog to see what we are up to.  RJ is 10 years old today.  Happy Birthday Buddy.  The reason I mention him, is because I bet he likes airplanes so he might be interested with our travels today, as we checked off another item on my bucket list.

You have heard, of course, about aging elephants that wander off to die in a specific communal place, a kind of elephant graveyard. It’s sort of the same concept in south central Tucson, in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, where old airplanes instead of old pachyderms come to rest.
The Davis-Monthan Air Force Base contains a storage facility known to many as the “boneyard.” The facility functions as a holding place to store planes until their ultimate fate has been determined.  Most of the aircraft are of military origin and I wasn't aware of the amount of different aircraft they use.  Of course the B52 is my favorite because I saw many of these fly over my old farm near Belmont Manitoba Canada, on the north end of their low level turn while on training flights from Minot Air Force Base.  I remember their shadows covering a large part of our yard as they went over.  Back in those days there didn't seem to be a problem with US military aircraft in Canadian airspace. 
On our bus tour of the boneyard, we saw hundreds of the B52's that are in storage there.  We were not allowed to get off the bus but did slow a slow drive past all the interesting areas.  I won't bore you with the facts.  If you want to read and see more there are all kinds of sites to visit on the web. 
These B52's have been cut up and laid out in a way that the Russian satellites can confirm that they have met the SALT 2 disarmament treaty with Russia.  Apparently only the Model 464-16 Stratofortress was used for nuclear weapons so those are the only ones they destroyed.
B52's cut up to satisfy Russia
As we drove we saw lots of aircraft just sitting there awaiting their fate or glory.  Some will see return to flights while others will be destroyed.
C5 Galaxy

C130 Hercules
After the boneyard tour we spent the rest of the afternoon at the Pima Air and Space Museum.  They have over 150 aircraft on display and is a mind boggling place.  The museum is dog friendly so Charlie got to come along.

One of the aircraft we saw which was not part of the museum was the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital. This aircraft flies all over the world providing eye care to people less fortunate than us.  It is manned by volunteers who donate their time to the humanitarian cause. Take some time to read up on it on the link.  I'm not sure why it was sitting here, but it was.

We saw some of the wrecked aircraft that an artist had worked on to make it look like and eagle.  Very interesting.

All of us got an airplane experience of our own.  Even Charlie.

After a long day of walking we headed back to the Ponderosa to relax.  Our view tonight.

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