AMARC, the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center, 1999

Outside Tuscon, Arizona in the Sonora Desert is AMARC, the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center. Here the U.S. Air Force mothballs planes until they either need them again or it's time to salvage them for parts. Whenever the U.S. sells surplus planes to foreign governments part of the sales pitch is that there will always have a ready supply of spare parts. Some are turned into pilotless drones and used for missile target practice.

There are about 4,000 planes in storage, most now from the Vietnam era. I only wish I'd been able to go in the 60's when there were still planes from World War II there. You can also see the photographs I shot of AMARC in 1999.

I've been collecting the stories people have sent. Here are a few:
"Every pilot I have ever talked to wants to visit but never does. It's kind of like an elephant graveyard, mysterious, exciting, a place where all kids dreams go. I think that's why not many of the pilots I've talked to have ever really tried to visit. I saw a documentary on the aircraft graveyard. They showed a part where they cut up the B-52's, all my pilot buddies were silent, I think if each of them were alone, they would have been crying."

"It shows the incredible creativity as well as the incredible destruction man is capable of."

When you're finished looking at these photos you can find out about tours of the boneyard given by the Pima Air Museum at the official AMARC homepage.