Inside The US $35 Billion Boneyard: Where Planes Come to Rest, and Then Fly Again

The Boneyard is not a cemetery for aircraft but a storage and preservation facility for retired military aircraft. Located in Tucson, Arizona, it covers an area of about 2600 acres and stores roughly 4000 aircraft and parts worth 35 billion dollars. The dry climate and alkaline soil protect against rust, but the desert’s heat threatens the aircraft’s electronics.

The facility provides various services, including preservation, inspection, cleaning, and converting fighter jets into drones. Airports are inspected, washed, drained of fuel, and refueled with lightweight oil to preserve aircraft. They are also sealed with a black water-based latex called Spraylat and covered with a barrier paper to protect against dust and birds. A white coating is applied on top of the black layer to reflect sunlight and prevent the internal temperature of the aircraft from getting too hot. The aircraft is then tied to the ground to avoid damage from strong winds.

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