Tucson’s Airplane Boneyard a Creepy Piece of History

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Transports in the desert.

There’s this really creepy, weird place down in Tucson, Ariz. Most people call it the Boneyard. The official name is the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center, or AMARC. In short, it’s where airplanes go to die.

I just wrote a piece about it for Associated Content. That’s where you can get all the official-speak – how to get there, what to bring, what to see. But since this is my own blog, I want to give you a little something different, plus bigger photos!

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I'm guessing these are various types of C-135s.

I want you to picture thousands of acres. Then imagine rows of aircraft dating from post-WW II to practically present day. Dozens of B-52 Stratofortresses. Old Boeing 720s. Even the odd B-1B bomber! Helicopters, light transports, they’re all here baking in the sun.

This place just staggers my imagination. If this is where planes die, can you imagine how many are still flying? Can you imagine how many of these could find a second life better than being chopped up and turned into cans?

And the Boneyard is a starkly and oddly beautiful sight. If you’re riding the Fantasy Island mountain bikes trail network, the Boneyard is a backdrop for quite a bit of the ride. It makes me feel like Mad Max will soon coming roaring through the desert. No matter how many times I see it, I just wish I could spend a day walking among all these planes.

The Boneyard is a huge, impossible-to-miss piece of the military’s buying power and scope. I’m going to add a little something to that: Along I-17 and Highway 79, thousands of people pass decommissioned ballistic missile silos and never even notice them. In some ways, that’s more chilling than seeing thousands of aircraft strewn through the desert.

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The Humpiest Hotel Ever?

Ahhhhh! There are some things in this world that are simply dripping in cool factor. No, this is marinated in cool, so much that the awesomeness infuses every morsel.

I’m talking about the 747 that’s been turned into a hotel! I know some people might think “hey, why would I want to spend more time on an airplane?” Well, I just happen to love airplanes and flying, so half the fun is getting there. And I can think of little that’s cooler than smartly reusing something.

My buddies over at SpotCoolStuff.com dug this one up, and what a stellar find it is.

As I mentioned in a response to their blog entry, I live in Arizona. We have two massive airplane graveyards (The AMARC in Tucson and Pinal Air Park) and a third smaller one in Goodyear. Each has its share of civilian heavies, C141s and even B-52s. Can you imagine the possibilities if we stopped cutting them up and started doing something really cool with them? In many cases, they’re only getting cut up enough to be rendered unflyable. Here’s a way better way to do that!

Several people have also turned retired 727s into homes. How cool!