Visit the Pima Air & Space Museum in Arizona
Located at the Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, Arizona, the Pima Air & Space Museum is home to nearly 300 aircraft, as well as the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame. The museum is closely associated with the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG), keeper of the largest aircraft preservation and storage facility in the world, often referred to simply as the ‘Boneyard’ as it is the final resting place for many aircraft. Visitors to the museum can enjoy a bus tour of the 2,000 acre Boneyard where they will hear interesting stories about some of the 4,000 aircraft stored there.
The term ‘Boneyard’ may give the impression that the aircraft at the 309th AMARG serve no purpose, and indeed a large number are no longer of any use, but some of the planes will be restored and possibly fly again – at least at air shows and special events – while other aircraft may yield valuable parts to use in restoration projects.
Among the aircraft in the Boneyard is the only airplane in the world to have received an honorary Purple Heart – a prestigious US military decoration awarded to men and women wounded or killed in armed conflict. The C-130’s engine and wings were damaged by gunfire during Vietnam, and as technicians were battling to fix it, they were fired at again. They managed to get the airplane going, took off and landed in the nearest safer spot, thereby saving lives – and the airplane.
Another airplane of interest is a Navy LC-130F which was stuck in Antarctica for 17 years, often buried so deep in snow that all that was visible was the tip of its tail and tips of some of the props. After being dug out of the snow, the LC-130F was repaired and continued in service for another ten years before being brought to the Boneyard in Arizona.
Visitors to the Pima Air & Space Museum can take their time viewing the indoor and outdoor exhibits, as well as viewing the restoration work taking place in Hangar 5. The Dorothy Finley Space Gallery offers the opportunity to look inside a training example of an Apollo space capsule, experience interactive exhibits, see a moon rock and learn about the history of the space race. Other exhibits include WWII barracks, aviation ground support vehicles and outside airplane exhibits.
Opening times and tour times are seasonal, so it’s best to check the Pima Air & Space Museum website when planning your visit.