Final Destination: The Aircraft Boneyards

Images of mankind’s conquest of air and space which have outlived their purpose.

         The human mind’s mood swings will always be a great mystery. At one point in time mankind is preoccupied with the principles of powered flight until the Wright Brothers showed the world how it can be done. Decades after, the advances in aviation as it was initially established took a speedy course that shaped the rest of history earning its purpose in the First World War. Barely four decades after Kitty Hawk, the Second World War ushered mankind to the peak of aviation technology which further determined the balance of power among nations. After the war, the Cold War assumed its own route and with the start of the Jet Age, the world’s great powers were back on the drawing table designing and building aircraft that ensure air superiority for each side (US and Russia). Despite average conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan (and other places I failed to elaborate) the rest of the world managed to enjoy conditional peace the way we are having now. But of course everything could be a matter of a moment’s notice when this peace will be disturbed. The question is where were those elaborate flying war machineries ended up after serving their purpose, or those fleet of aircraft from airlines which have ferried passengers from airport to airport? Let us take a peek at those caches of human engineering gone out of purpose.  

309th Aerospace Maintenance And Regeneration Group (AMARG) is a US Air Force storage and maintenance facility in Tucson, Arizona, USA located in Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and was popularly refered as “The Boneyard”. It stores most of the US military aircraft inventory taken from active service including fighter planes of World War II and the Cold War (wikipedia).

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Aerial View of AMARG

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Count how many aircraft were there and how much each aircraft cost and you will think what I’d been thinking

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Huey helicopters and F-4 Phantoms, the field sprouted rows of aircraft, not plants

Pinal Airpark is an airport at Pinal County, Arizona, USA and serves as “boneyard” for commercial aircraft. It serves the same purpose as AMARG but is specifically intended for civilian commercial aircraft like decommissioned fleet of airlines. Although the majority of the aircraft belonged to Northwest Airlines, several airlines were represented in the facility identified by the airline logos which still adorn most of the aircraft’s vertical stabilizers (wikipedia).

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An aerial with majority of widebody airliners, sad to think that these aircraft had flown millions of passengers from airport to airport before eventually making their final landing here

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Medium sized airliners and business jets, the ill fated Beechcraft Starship and Beechcraft 1900

Mojave Air and Space Port at Mojave, California, USA also provides residence to decommissioned widebody airliners. Despite of this, the airport was identified as a civilian spaceport by the FAA where the famous civilian space ship “Space Ship One” had undergone flight tests and its historical launch to outer space (wikipedia).

Russian Boneyards were not as varied and wide as in the US but below were a few of the aircraft which made contributions during the Cold War

Dyagilevo, an airbase in Ryazan, Oblast, Russia has a museum and space for storage of these ill fated aircraft

A Tu-95 Bear one of the world’s fastest propeller driven aircraft which played a major role during the Cold War

This Myasishchev VM-T Atlant used to piggyback the Russian space shuttle Buran during the active years of Russian Space Program

A Tu-16 Badger, a high altitude bomber used to carry Soviet cruise missiles during the Cold War

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More Tu-16s

A hoard of aircraft parts and twisted bits of something

Remains of an AN-22 Cock, once one of the world’s largest military aircraft before the C-5 Galaxy came to service, at present it is still the world’s largest turboprop with some in service as cargo aircraft with Antonov Airlines

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Other Posts on Aviation Technology:

Vertical Take-Off and Landing Aircraft

Ten Weird Aircraft Designs

12 Fastest Warbirds of World War Two

Scaled Composites

The World’s Biggest Airlifter Flies Again


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18 Responses to “Final Destination: The Aircraft Boneyards”
  1. joyhyena29 Says...

    On March 29, 2010 at 4:10 am

    nice one^^

  2. CHAN LEE PENG Says...

    On March 29, 2010 at 5:21 am

    These aircrafts as well as their facts are interesting. A great share here.

  3. Atanacio Says...

    On March 29, 2010 at 10:21 am

    almost picture perfect entry

  4. Hazel Crowther Says...

    On March 29, 2010 at 10:49 am

    Good research and very interesting.

  5. Sharif Ishnin Says...

    On March 29, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Fascinating write up. I did’nt know they were so many bone yards around.

  6. Goodselfme Says...

    On March 29, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Aviation has always interested me. You presented this info very well.TX

  7. Snooky Says...

    On March 29, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    I am within reasonable driving distance of two of these and never knew they were there.
    Briiliant article.

  8. Sourav Says...

    On March 29, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Wow… this is interesting!

  9. CA Johnson Says...

    On March 29, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    This was really interesting. I didn’t realize that there were so many different aircrafts. I learned something new today.

  10. Citra Florenca Says...

    On March 29, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    Unbelievable and interesting. Great article!

  11. qasimdharamsy Says...

    On March 30, 2010 at 4:00 am

    Interesting piece….

  12. bestone Says...

    On March 30, 2010 at 8:06 am

    very good collections

  13. XXElleXX Says...

    On March 30, 2010 at 9:48 am

    A great article Will on aviation heritage … most of these aircraft would have to be preserved for future generations to enjoy :-)

  14. 8Shei8 Says...

    On March 31, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Great photos! Well researched article.

  15. Ruby Hawk Says...

    On March 31, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    Oh, my goodness, what a waste. I can’t imagine so much waste. Surely something could be done with all these planes besides letting them rot away.

  16. Bo Russo Says...

    On April 3, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    I agree with Ruby, I thought a lot of them were crushed and reused metal. I knew such places existed but the numbers are staggering, great piece though, for sure.

  17. RS Wing Says...

    On April 4, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Real eye opener. I always wondered where these aircrafts went. Definitely makes one think after seeing so many. Great pics here. I know your passion for flying as this piece shines with a finely crafed article. Really great read and write Will.

  18. tony. Says...

    On January 16, 2011 at 10:31 am

    if you use google earth, the big ariel pic of the bone yard( pic 2) is only small as to how big that place actually is. i was absolutely shocked when i found it and just how much area it covers. whats even more staggering is how many aircraft are there. im with you on the amount of money that is sitting there on aircraft, as most or the biggest majority of them are jet engined. whats worse is that this bone yard is only 1 of several around the world.

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