Pima Air & Space to host special Saturday AMARG tour

Pima Air & Space to host special Saturday AMARG tour
Visitors waiting for AMARG tour (Source: Pima Air & Space Museum)
Visitors waiting for AMARG tour (Source: Pima Air & Space Museum)
Just some of the planes stored at AMARG (Source: Pima Air & Space Museum)
Just some of the planes stored at AMARG (Source: Pima Air & Space Museum)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - For only the second time ever, the Pima Air & Space Museum will be hosting a special Saturday tour of the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG).

The event is happening on August 30.

According to PASM officials the tour generally is sold out during its normal weekday operating hours.

AMARG or the 'Boneyard' as it commonly referred to by Tucsonans, is responsible for the storage, regeneration and 'recycling' of all U.S. military branches, federal agencies and NASA's aircraft. According to AMARG the facility has in its inventory more than 4,000 aircraft, housed on 2,600 acres.  Five elements make up the Boneyard's mission:

-aircraft reactivation (also called “regeneration”) – meaning returning aircraft to flying status

-aircraft overhaul—or limited depot-level maintenance

-aircraft storage—perhaps the most visible mission

-aircraft parts reclamation

-aircraft disposal

Having a closer “inside-the-fence” view of the vast array (for comparison, at AMARG there are more planes in one location than exist on the entire continent of Australia) has always been in high demand. In 1999, D-M in conjunction with AMARG awarded operation of tours to the Pima Air & Space Museum. These tours run during normal business hours: Monday through Friday, not including federal holidays. However, “normal business hours” are when many Tucsonans work.

Thanks to the coordination of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, AMARG and the museum, with volunteer airmen manning the security gates, on “Labor Saturday” - the Saturday of the Labor Day Weekend - Pima Air & Space Museum is offering docent-guided bus tours of the “Boneyard.”

Prices are: $7 for adults (age 13 and older); $4 children ages 12 & under.

Admission to Pima Air & Space Museum—only $12.25 for Pima County residents—is not required, however per U.S. Air Force security requirements, all persons 16 years of age and older must present their government-issued identification (driver's license, passport or military ID) at least one hour before the tour start time at the museum admission area. Additional security procedures for entering a U.S. Air Force Base include:

-No carrying of firearms, weapons, illegal substances, backpacks, camera cases, and other non-essential items on the AMARG tour.  

-Carry-on items may include a small camera without the case, and a small purse or fanny/belt pack. 

-All carry-on items will be visually inspected before boarding the bus. 

The bus will stop for photo opportunities on base however everyone will remain on the bus and all photos taken through the windows.

The air-conditioned bus tours, to be offered at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., take approximately 75 minutes. 

The museum recommends using their NEW online advanced-purchase service at pimaair.org/visit/buy (click on the BUY TICKETS photo) or telephone ticket service 1-888-71-tickets. An email address with a printer or a smart phone/tablet is required to print out/display purchased tickets. A nominal service fee is charged per ticket for the advanced-purchase service. A limited number of walk-up tickets will be available for purchase on Saturday, August 30 beginning when the museum opens at 9 a.m. 

This event was designed to thank the local Tucson community for their support and for embracing the "Boneyard" as a local icon for more than 68 years. It is hoped that this outreach opens the door for many hard-working neighbors to take advantage of a rare opportunity to view the broad range of aircraft and items of interest the Aerospace Regeneration and Maintenance Group workforce maintains, and experience firsthand this nation's past and present air power display.       

"It's always wonderful to respond to one of our most frequent visitor requests: to have 'Boneyard' tours on a Saturday," stated Yvonne Morris, Executive Director of the Arizona Aerospace Foundation that operates the Pima Air & Space Museum. She continued, "We are extremely grateful for the extra effort DM, AMARG, individual airmen, museum staff and volunteers put forth—especially giving up their Labor Day Weekend—to make this possible for Tucsonans. It's a great example of Tucson's cohesive caring community."

Saturday "Boneyard" tours were previously offered only once before, on "Labor Saturday" 2013, and sold out. 

Tucsonans with questions can call the Pima Air & Space Museum's general information line (520) 574-0462 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Reservations are not taken, the only options are online/888-telephone purchases and day-of walk-up.

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