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I was looking at the boneyard at Davis Monthan Air Force Base and was wondering:
How are aircraft brought there, and then how are they placed so tightly together?

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Almost always a plane going to a boneyeard is flown to the general area. Typically they are taxied, towed or dragged away from the airport itself. CHEAP is the key word in any recycling / 2nd-hand operation. Planes at the end of their economic lives, that cannot be flown because of damage or lack of maintenance, tend to be moved out of sight, valuable bits and hazardous materials removed, and the hulk reduced to scrap using normal construction/demolition equipment. The scrappers near Mojave airport work the same way, in a bare dirt lot down the street from the storage adjacent to the airport.

I've been to AMARG*, at Davis-Monthan, to Mojave Airport/Spaceport and a facility for smaller, general aviation, aircraft, Cessna 150s through commuter and business turboprops/jets. The later had a large, grass, field, for last landings. Other planes arrived by truck, in pieces. Most airplane museums are near an airport, but exhibits are less likely to fly in.

A plane headed for a museum or restoration shop, even as a donor, is often disassembled and sent by truck, train or ship. But restoration isn't scrapping, the economics are different.

*AMARG, or the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (previously known as AMARC, the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center)

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Most are just flown in to Davis-Monthan AFB and then towed over to the boneyard where they're 'pickled'. There are a couple different levels of preservation depending on it's potential future (returnable to flight, parts, etc.). More information is available at the AMARC web site.

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  • $\begingroup$ Convenience is a driving reason many boneyards in the US (like Davis-Monthan, Roswell, and Goodyear) are collocated with airports. $\endgroup$ – Cody P Oct 5 '16 at 16:14
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The aircraft can be placed very tightly together when they're being towed -- far closer than would be safe if they were being taxied, and at least somewhat closer than would be normal for parking if the expectation was they they'd be towed/pushed back out in a day or three. The desert there is big, but it isn't unlimited, so there's nothing to gain by wasting parking space with extra unnecessary feet of space between aircraft that probably will never move again.

And by the time that they're being towed to their final parking spot, they aren't in a condition to taxi under their own power anyway -- engines have been purged of all fuel & oil (if not removed outright), etc.

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