Wood Brothers Racing Visits “The Boneyard”
Phoenix, AZ (November 6, 2008)-The Phoenix area has much to offer outside of Phoenix International Raceway with its vast desert landscape and presence of the U.S. Air Force. Jon and Keven Wood, drivers of the no. 21 Wood Brothers Racing U.S. Air Force F-150 and team visited the air plane Boneyard in Tucson and had an eye opening experience.
The team arrived at the Davis Monthan Air Force Base AMARC (Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center) just outside Tucson, AZ in the Sonora desert to see, for the most part, the final resting place of some of the most admired and respected aircraft the United Stated has used in military history. Driving out, looking over the flat desert land surrounded by red rock mountains, acres upon acres of airplanes were in view including C-5’s, Fighters and B-52 Bombers, amongst many others.
Tour guide, TSGT Scott Fredrick reported that not all of the aircraft were there just for scrap metal and parts. The storage area has an inventory of over 42,000 and was split in half by a public road that runs through the center. One side is where planes were regenerated, cleaned up and sent back out to be flown again. They may be sold to U.S allies around the world or go back into commission in our own services including the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marines. None of the aircraft are sold to the public, however, some are donated to museums for display.
The base was chosen in 1964 for the storage area due to its climate, meager rainfall and low humidity. This climate would allow for the planes to be stored there indefinitely with little corrosion. There is also a thick layer of hard clay, known as caliche, that allows the heavy planes to be stored on the desert without a concrete pad or steel for parking.
This unique experience of this trip is to hear the history behind the planes, Keven Wood described his observation. “You hear some of the history behind some of the planes, it’s really interesting. I mean, it’s not a plane just sitting there. The plane has history behind it.” He commented on the acres of B-52’s that sat in the field, “The thing that stuck out the most was the way that they leave the planes [B-52’s] out for the spy satellites to see. Just knowing that Russia is watching us and they know that we know. That was just really wild having those chopped up planes sitting there and they can’t even throw them away, I mean, they have to leave them sitting there.”
The bus stopped at a sleek F-15C jet that was sitting among other jets. It didn’t seem any more special than any other; but this one had a story that is engrained in modern American history. Tour guide, Teresa Vanden-Heuvel, explained this particular plane was one that was first to respond and attempt to intercept the commercial airplane that flew into the World Trade Center on 9/11. However, it was too late; once it arrived, the second plane had already hit the New York City landmark.
The next stop was at the number of C-5’s that were out of commission and used for parts. The huge fuselages stood in the desert like dinosaurs. Some with noses missing, wings cut off and tails dislodged, the team was able to climb into one that had been retired. One could only imagine the airman who once flew on a mission to Vietnam or Korea. Truck chief Dwight DuBois spoke about his thoughts on climbing into the massive plane, “I had been in a C-17 before but, going in that C-5, the thought I had when I went up the ladder was I wanted to know where it had been, what kind of combat it had been in, just the history of it. It was exciting to go up in there and look out, just imagining what those guys went through pushing stuff out and getting it to the war and the whole deal. I was really wrapped up in it and just really excited. I don’t know how to explain it but,it was just an awesome opportunity to get to do that,” said DuBois.
The value of airplanes that currently sits on the base is worth 35 billion dollars but nothing is wasted. Parts and pieces are reused and recycled. Vanden-Heuvel explained the landscape constantly changes with old moving out and new aircraft moving in. Planes that are currently used in Iraq and Afghanistan may also meet their fate and retire at this serene place in the future.
Dwight spoke for the entire 21 crew, “Coming from a military background, it was an opportunity of a lifetime to do that. The whole experience of getting out there and being able to see the different kind of planes and the history the plans have being in the war and doing different combats; I’m just thankful for those guys to take their time and do all of that for us,” DuBois spoke of Frederick and Vanden-Heuvel. As far as a crew member we don’t really get to do things like that. I know everybody on the team really appreciated it and wanted to thank everyone once again.”
Watch Jon Wood and the Wood Brothers Racing no. 21 U.S. Air Force F-150 will compete in the Lucas Oil 150 on Friday, November 7th at Phoenix International Raceway live on SPEED at 7:30PM ET.