TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — You may drive by them all the time---the thousands of planes in storage at AMARG on Davis Monthan. Now a large new batch of planes is headed for retirement there. KGUN9 On Your Side’s Craig Smith has more on 75 years of work at what some call the boneyard...and he talked with the General who commands AMARG and much more of the Air Force system that keeps planes flying.
A lot of the history of modern aviation has passed through AMARG at Davis Monthan Air Force Base. Now the latest planes to come in here are the B-1s as the Air Force retires part of that bomber fleet.
B-1 bombers began arriving at Davis-Monthan a few weeks ago to head for long term storage at AMARG, the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, the main Air Force location to store planes and use them for parts to keep other planes flying.
The Air Force plans to retire 17 B-1s and keep 45 flying to make room in the budget for a new stealth bomber that’s under development.
AMARG is the formal name for what’s informally called the boneyard---and it’s marking 75 years since the first plane rolled in.
In 1946, what was then the Army Air Corps decided Davis-Monthan’s desert environment was ideal for preserving planes.
The first planes coming in were B-29 bombers-- critical for winning World War 2, but obsolete as the jet age zoomed forward.
From roughly nine hundred planes stored the first year, AMARG has grown to 32 hundred planes with plenty of room for more.
She says it’s about a two billion dollars business that saves money for taxpayers by recycling parts to keep other planes flying and by modernizing planes to keep them effective in their fast moving world.
General von Hoffman says, “It's such a multifaceted organization here. People think of it as the boneyard which is storage. It's definitely one of the mission sets, but like I mentioned, being able to keep existing aircraft that are out in the field, at the highest capability and at the highest structural soundness and airworthiness is what they do here as well. “
And like many planes stored at the Boneyard some of the B-1s may come out of retirement to fly again.