The 309th AMARG (Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group) It is the largest aircraft graveyard in the world and is located in the United States. Covering an area of more than 10 square kilometers, they rest in peaceabout 4,000 aircraft of 80 different types, everyone has a story to tell. A bird’s-eye view of the vast promenade with its perfectly placed defunct artifacts or remains gives the misleading impression that they are paper airplanes. At the foot of the desert, you’ll discover artifacts that fought in World War II, more modern aircraft used by the US Air Force in recent years, and even NASA spacecraft.
A walk among the deceased planes is a journey through the country’s wartime history. There are models like the B-52 Stratofortressan iconic Cold War bomber now scrapped under the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). After being stripped of its engines and other parts that could be reused, the device went through the executioner’s guillotine, a sheet of steel that was heavier than 6,000 kilos was lifted by a crane and cut into five parts.
Models of the F-4 Phantom supersonic fighter-bomber from the Vietnam War also rest here. However, the most famous is undoubtedly the C-5M Super Galaxy cargo plane, which despite the fact that it sounds like the latest version of a mobile phone, is one of the largest aircraft in the world with a length similar to a football field and the height of a 6-story building. It’s valued at $268 million and is powered by four turbofan engines mounted under its wings. It’s the largest aircraft the US Army has in its fleet, which is why it boasts of having 52 active units remaining. It was designed to carry large, heavy loads, including more than 90 soldiers and up to two main battle tanks.
In the cemetery at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, about 600 people work who correctly document and store the arriving “corpses”. They also oversee the 7,000 engines that are dormant there and the more than 400,000 reusable parts that come in very handy when live planes “fly through the box.” As well as having inert planes here, spare parts are also stocked to extend the life of planes still flying, which has saved the Army millions of dollars.
Planes dying in this part of the country is no coincidence. Arizona’s dry climate and mild winters slow wear and tear on aircraft, keeping parts in good condition and reusable. For optimal preservation, the engines and windows are covered with tape that prevents the ingress of sand and dirt from the desert, allowing for years of storage.
Lying before “his funeral”. Inspected and the exterior of the cabin, the engine air intakes and other openings are sealed with a thin layer of Spraylat, a non-porous, easily removable, latex-based surface coating that serves as a temporary protection. The thin white layer reflects the sun’s heat, keeping the aircraft at nearly the same temperature as the outside temperature.