Arizona's incredible Boneyard is purgatory for aircraft

This is the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, AMARG, aka The Boneyard, where planes of all types await their fate under the Arizona sun.

Geoffrey Morrison
Geoffrey Morrison is a writer/photographer about tech and travel for CNET, The New York Times, and other web and print publications. He's also the Editor-at-Large for The Wirecutter. He has written for Sound&Vision magazine, Home Theater magazine, and was the Editor-in-Chief of Home Entertainment magazine. He is NIST and ISF trained, and has a degree in Television/Radio from Ithaca College. His bestselling novel, Undersea, and its sequel, Undersea Atrophia, are available in paperback and digitally on Amazon. He spends most of the year as a digital nomad, living and working while traveling around the world. You can follow his travels at BaldNomad.com and on his YouTube channel.
Geoffrey Morrison
1 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, aka, AMARG, aka The Boneyard. 

For the full story behind this tour, check out The Boneyard: thousands of aircraft in a desolate desert, awaiting their fate.

2 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

After security

After the short ride from Pima Air & Space museum, you have to exit the bus and wait in a small garage before you're allowed access (by going back on the same bus). Then the tour begins in earnest. 

3 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


There's quite a mix of aircraft at AMARG. Most of them are siblings to active models.

4 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Lockheed C-5 Galaxy

Behold, the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy: One of the largest military aircraft ever

5 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

On display

The first part of the Boneyard tour goes past static displays of some examples of the aircraft elsewhere in the 4,400-acre facility...

6 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

As far as the eye can see

...But look in any direction, and it's just aircraft, aircraft, aircraft.

7 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

USN, retired

Navy aircraft get a bit extra treatment to prepare for their long sleep: fresh water wash to rid them of any salt leftover from their service.

8 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

P-2 Neptune Sub hunter

The P-2 Neptune, patrol and sub-hunter.

9 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

F-15 Eagle

To me, the F-15 is still a "new" plane, and it is still in service, but the oldest ones were built in the early '70s.

10 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Gives new meaning to the world 'stealth'

This is said to be the F-117 stealth fighter. (Get it?)

11 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

A-7 and F-4

An A-7 Corsair (left) and F-4 Phantom, two very long lived aircraft. 

12 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

F-14 Tomcat

Check out these two big F-14 Tomcats. This fighter was state of the art when Tom Cruise flew it in "Top Gun" back in 1986, but it was retired from US Navy service more than 10 years ago. 

13 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Say hello to the Hog

The beautiful A-10 Thunderbolt II, aka Warthog, is shown here in the foreground. Under the tarp, a F/A-18 Hornet

14 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Fighters and fighers

A careful eye will spot an F-16 Falcon, one of several I spotted on my tour.

15 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

F-101 Voodoo

In service in the US from the late '50s to the early '70s, it's doubtful the F-101 Voodoo is going to make a comeback. 

16 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

STOL transport

A super-rare YC-14 prototype, designed for short takeoff and landing. Only two were made. The other is at Pima.

17 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Trainers and turbines

A lonely trainer, with a few of the hundreds of sealed-up jet engines.

18 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Ready and waiting

With just a bit of work these can be ready to power their original aircraft. 

19 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Choppers, choppers everywhere

Easily parked next to each other, it seems like there are even more helicopters because they're so close.

20 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Rotors removed

The rotors are kept separate.

21 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


If I had to guess, there were more C-130 Hercules than any other aircraft at AMARG.

22 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Row upon row

Which makes sense given they rival the B-52 Stratofortress for longevity. Both have been in production -- and active service -- since the 1950s.

23 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


Containers galore with... other things inside. 

Actually, I'm pretty sure these hold smaller jet engines.

24 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


More F-16s. This looks almost like a whole squadron has been mothballed.

25 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


Though first built in the 1970s, the F-16 is still being manufactured today, and is one of the most common military aircraft in the world. Still slick looking too. 

26 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Ready for sleep

An F-16 getting ready to go into storage. 

27 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


When there are so many, they seem smaller. Make no mistake, these transports are massive aircraft. 

28 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Titan II, is that you?

That sure looks like a disassembled Titan II, similar to the one in the silo at the Titan II Missile Museum

29 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Corsair II

The A-7 was still in use in Greece in 2014, 23 years after they were retired from the US Air Force.

30 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


Some airframes go in pieces, as other aircraft need their parts to keep flying. This is a big part of what makes AMARG so useful. It's a lot cheaper to remove and refurbish a part than make or buy a new one (if that's even possible). 

31 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


Well that's not something you see every day: A RB-57F Canberra.

32 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

B-1 behind

Even missing part of its empennage and some body panels, the B-1 supersonic bomber is still a gorgeous aircraft. 

33 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

How many?

According to Wikipedia, 100 B-1Bs were manufactured. If that's true, it appears that a sizable percentage of that total lives here at the Boneyard.

34 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

4 by 18

A few more F/A-18 Hornets nose-to-nose with one of their predecessors, the F-4.

35 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

How old?

These C-130s look brand new, other than the white protective coverings.

36 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

And even more

There have to be hundreds here.

37 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Air Guard

One from the Tennessee Air National Guard.

38 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


Along with the weather, the densely-packed soil in this part of Arizona is another benefit to the AMARG location.

39 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


Though aging, the A-10 is still such a useful and popular plane, it's not surprising to see one up on blocks with its parts missing to help its still-flying siblings.  

40 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


Speaking of aging and being useful, the mighty B-52. Even the newest are 55 years old, and they're expected to stay in service into the 2040s.

41 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Midsized cargo

I believe this is a C-135 Stratolifter -- but don't quote me on that.

42 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Stripped for parts

And another likely C-135. But this one is being stripped for parts.

43 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


So many E-2 Hawkeyes.

44 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


Though primarily aircraft storage, there are a few hundred ground vehicles as well.

45 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


The iconic Huey. Lots of iconic Hueys, as a matter of fact.

46 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


And of course, its thinner sibling, the Huey Cobra.

47 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Big 'Bs'

This is such an incredible juxtaposition. Next to the C-5, the B-1 looks positively tiny. Except it's not, it's nearly as long as a B-52! The C-5 is really just that massive.

48 of 48 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

So they sit

The bus brings us back to Pima Air & Space museum, while the aircraft remain in the sun.

For the full story behind this tour, check out The Boneyard: thousands of aircraft in a desolate desert, awaiting their fate.

More Galleries

My Favorite Shots From the Galaxy S24 Ultra's Camera
A houseplant

My Favorite Shots From the Galaxy S24 Ultra's Camera

20 Photos
Honor's Magic V2 Foldable Is Lighter Than Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra

Honor's Magic V2 Foldable Is Lighter Than Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra

10 Photos
The Samsung Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus Looks Sweet in Aluminum
Samsung Galaxy S24

The Samsung Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus Looks Sweet in Aluminum

23 Photos
Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra Now Has a Titanium Design
The Galaxy S24 Ultra in multiple colors

Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra Now Has a Titanium Design

23 Photos
I Took 600+ Photos With the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Look at My Favorites

I Took 600+ Photos With the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Look at My Favorites

34 Photos
Do You Know About These 17 Hidden iOS 17 Features?
Invitation for the Apple September iPhone 15 event

Do You Know About These 17 Hidden iOS 17 Features?

18 Photos
AI or Not AI: Can You Spot the Real Photos?

AI or Not AI: Can You Spot the Real Photos?

17 Photos