American Way cover story, Nov. 15, 2010
As I gaze in the distance, a hot blast of wind and dust whips across my face, clouding my vision. My eyes tear up as I strain to see. What is that scrawny creature tucked into the shadow? The blistering desert sun doesn’t help. I move closer, then watch a gangly coyote emerge from the underbelly of an airplane fuselage and amble away. For just a moment, this seems like his natural habitat. A typical desert scene. Until I look around and regain my senses.
I have come to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group in Tucson,
Covering four square miles and chosen for its dry climate and hard ground, the boneyard is an aviation lover’s dream, including everything from B-1 bombers to C-9 medevacs and aging stars: a helicopter that ferried former President Dwight Eisenhower; an A-4 Skyhawk, the type of plane once piloted by then Navy Cdr. John McCain; and the last chopper to leave Saigon, in 1975. Some will be used for parts, some will be refurbished and used again, some will be converted into drones, and others will end up in museums (including the nearby
Much like an ancient city or ancient burial ground, the
That landing pad is
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