More than 4,400 U.S. military aircraft are housed in the largest plane graveyard in the world located in the Arizona desert. It is now available for viewing with astounding detail through Bing’s high definition interactive map.
The Independent reported that the map shows planes of all shapes and sizes neatly lined up in rows along on the red soil of the southwest. Through the zoom feature, it is revealed that the retired fighters are covered in white, protective sheeting to shield them from the Arizona sun.
Commonly referred to as The Boneyard, the graveyard is located on the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Anything from enormous cargo planes, bombers, F-14 Tomcat fighters and numerous others are taken care of by the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG).
“As long as there are aircraft flying, military and commercial aircraft boneyards will always be necessary to keep other planes in the air,” said aviation author Nick Veronico, who has visited the aircraft graveyard. “Each of the storage yards typically performs a variety of functions from storing aircraft that are temporarily out of service but expected to return to the fleet, to reclaiming useable parts which are inspected, overhauled, and then held until needed by active aircraft, to dismantling of the aircraft carcasses.”
According to The Independent, several of the decommissioned planes date back to the Cold War or Vietnam, including retired B-52 bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons. These bombers were stored with their wings removed and placed on the ground in order to show Soviet satellites that the aircraft had been taken out of service.
Earlier this month, the first retired B-52, nicknamed the “Ghost Rider,” was brought back to life. After receiving upgrades, the 53-year-old Stratofortess took off and returned to duty. It had been in storage for around seven years at The Boneyard.
In 1946, AMARG was established in order to store planes at the end of World War II. Tucson was chosen because of its low humidity, high altitude, minimal rainfall and hard, rich-red alkaline soil. The graveyard is spread over 2,600 acres at Davis-Monthan.
When aircraft arrive, AMARG goes through the meticulous tasks of washing the planes, draining and cleaning their fuel tanks and sealing their ducts after ammunition and ejector seats have been removed. While some are used for salvaged parts that are sent out all over the world, several are wrapped and kept near perfect for speedy reinstatement if needed.
The Boneyard is surrounded by homes within the city of Tucson. It has been used as the backdrop for several films, most recently “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” as well as television programs and music videos.