Thursday, July 26, 2007

AMARC aka "The Boneyard"

While I was down in Tucson, I got to visit AMARC, Aerospace Maintenance And Regeneration Center. It is basically a big area of the Desert in Tucson, AZ where the military stores all it's extra planes until they are needed to fly again or they get scraped. As of right now there are approximately 4,200 planes in AMARC. Think about that number... of aircraft! Holy shit that is a lot!

The first section of pictures are planes that are technically still flyable. They have just been put into long term storage. Periodically (Every few years,) they take them out, check that they are still intact, wash them, then reseal them and put them back out in the desert.

These are some of the very last flyable F-14s in existence... but probably for only a few months. The only other country in the world that flys F-14s is Iran. Because the F-14s that are out in AMARC have to possibility to supply parts to the Iranian F-14s, they have all been ordered to be destroyed. From what I under stand it takes about a day to "dismantle" an F-14.

Holy smokes there are a lot of F-4's out here. My estimate is in thousands... but I don't know. Most of these still flyable F-4's will end up being made into drones and shot down as targets.

The Two pictures above are all T-37's. I am pretty sure that every jet I flew in training is out here somewhere. I hope they end up flying again some how.

Hueys! I am not worried about these guys at all. I am sure that we will sell them to some South American country... I thought about trading transmissions with some of these guys though... Also, note the impressive number of F-4's behind the Huey. I think there is no way to exagerate how many F-4's are out here.

Now for the "never going to fly again" section. These planes are all either being cannibalized for parts or are slowly making there way to the crushing and shredding equipment for processing.

F-111's! Though they were crazy on maintenance, I have heard from a somewhat reliable source that when they are completely clean they can play around with MACH-4 type speeds. I don't know that for sure, but they did have a "Skin Temperature Limit" so that if you flew to fast for to long, the friction of the air on the skin of the aircraft would make the skin to hot... It would seem that must be an impressive speed.

These C-141s are just waiting to be chopped up and made into popcans. They cut them up by taking a big crane and dropping a slab of plate steel vertically. Then the plane is towed off by a scrap metal company.

F-18's being cannibalized. B-52's and B-1's in the back ground getting the same done to them.

This picture is truly DEATH ROW for airplanes. Click on this picture and zoom in to see the details. By the time you read this the F-14's on the right side of the picture will be nothing more than entries in log books and stories in bars. In the center you can see chopped up B-52 sections. They are cut up and left out there for a few months so the Russians can count them with satellites then they are scrapped also. The B-1's are probably just being cannibalized right now...

C-5's I have always thought these things on the ground look more like ships at anchor than real airplanes. Either way, they are impressive... for now.

This is the back half of a fuselage of a PBY Catalina. It was a WW2 amphibious patrol plane.

All sorts of shit in here...

These look like T-2 Buckeye cockpits as well as some A-7 or A-8 cockpits

The craziest part about seeing all this is that every one of those planes out there had had countless life and death struggles happen in its cockpit. Aircrews have risked their lives to bring them home, maintenance guys have sacrificed blood, sweat, and little kids baseball games along with countless anniversaries all to keep them in the air... now they all end up here.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Lets take this bird on the road!

As Chestocrates has just demonstrated, even the most incredible photo stories get almost zilch for comments... I decided to make one anyways.

Cooler - Check
Lawn Chairs - Check
Weather Report - Ah... fuck it... we are going to give it a go anyways.

Holy shit we are high! Way up here with the clouds instead of the fence posts! Who's idea was it to fly IFR anyways? "It is easier" they say... "you barely have to navigate" they say, "you don't have to worry about hitting trees." they say... (I don't usually have a problem with any of those selling points.

What they don't mention about Instrument Flight Rule(IFR) flying is sitting on the "hold short" line for 50+ minutes waiting for your take off clearance! At least these cats are getting into the air...

Departure: "Blade 72 climb to 14,000'"

Flight Engineer: "Sir, we can't make it there today... it is too hot! The best we will make is 11,500.

Blade 72: "Negative ma'am, unable... request 10,000"
Departure: "The minimum I can give you is 13,000 I have other traffic lower."

(Massively Pregnant Radio Pause)

Meanwhile I try to think of ways to sweat talk her into giving us a lower altitude.

Departure: "Blade 72, do you want vectors back to Hill AFB?"

Blade 72: "Negative Mame, Cancel IFR."

Departure: "Roger Blade 72, Cancel IFR, Descend to 6000, turn left to 270,
Report "lagoon" insight."

Blade 72: "Blade 72 WilCo" (means "will comply")

In the cockpit of Blade 72: "What the fuck is the lagoon? We are over the great salt lake! Everything looks like a damn lagoon! Where the fuck are we?

(Looks out big window in the front)
"I know exactly where we are! We are right over Downtown Salt Lake City!"
(guess what gives it away)

The UH-1 cross country machine! This picture simulates the shaking and noise, but the heat and fart jokes you are on your own for.

Shortly after the previous picture was taken, we started getting some indications of impending transmission failure. We immediately landed in a gas station parking lot. It was the only flat piece of ground for miles and miles, shit, it was the only anything for miles and miles! As soon as we landed we used our Sherlock Homz skillz to figure out the gas station was closed. Gas was only 85 cents/gal. Just as we realized this, a dude walked out of the brush and started yelling at us that this was private property and that the signs were posted and that we needed to get off his property! I tried to explain that the helicopter was broken and we couldn't take off and that we hadn't seen the signs from 9000 feet. He was unmoved so I talked to him about llamas and the geyser that he was building long enough to distract him while the rest of the crew fixed the helicopter. We were soon on our way and the guy said that we could stay if we didn't get it fixed...

Finally back to civilization... sort of, pavement anyways... cracked pavement... with grass growing up in the cracks. This is soon to be "Brown Out" walking back from the A/C. It was a little warm at that dude's closed gas station parking lot.

Looking out at our next leg... I hope that transmission doesn't act up again!

This is what the famous monument valley would look like if it was full of smoke from the entire south west being on fire.

Speaking of fires... 68-10772 (72 for short) got to spend the night with this fire bomber! They didn't get along at first. The bomber tried to eat 72... but but she bit back. We found them snuggling the next morning on the tarmac. (On a side note, the transmission was acting up again which is why we spent the night. It was Winslow AZ. The absolute entire time I was there I had "Take it Easy" by the Eagles stuck in my head. I don't know how the folks that live there can take it. It must be maddening!)

While in Tucson I got to hook up several nights with the associate known as Lucas. Unfortunately I didn't remember to take any pictures... but imagine us eating food, drinking beer, advancing human knowledge ever so slightly. Also, I managed to deftly ovoid a relapse into my old profession of mover as Lucas moved apartments... in incredible heat.

72 is being a little bitch in this picture. More Transmission troubles! This emergency landing put us about 5 miles east of the famous Tombstone, AZ. We are starting to get good at these emergency landings... practice! Unfortunately we didn't bring a mechanic and tools on this one. We just sat around waiting to be rescued like damsels in distress.

All though... it did give us the chance to check out some desert wildlife. This is a millipede. I would hope he knows which end is the front!

Incredible beauty... incredible trouble! Luckily it was about to be sunset so we wouldn't have to look at the massive shit we were about to fly into!

Just happy to be here!!! the evening after surviving T-storms, Brown outs, anorexic-gnats ass fuel planning, all on the darkest night I have ever seen! (Clell/brown out is off talking pickles and cheese to his fiance)

Oh yea... and why we did this whole thing anyways? So dudes can get out to and back from places like this! Three off. Two on. what ever. It is about 130 deg F in this picture. The British Royal Navy dudes that we pulled out of here were very happy people!

HOLY SHIT! The proverbial "Bus Full of Nuns" has finally crashed! I thought it only happened in hypothetical verbal training scenarios! (do you see the SH-60? the LZ behind the bus is where "Brown-out" got his name several nights earlier.

This is the side of my head! ...and the Grand Canyon is in there too. I would have put a more clear picture of the GC in there, but there is no point. There is no picture of the Grand Canyon that can give you any impression. Just go see it.

Damn this country is full of rocks!

A forest fire at sunset! Making pretty sunsets for hundreds of miles east of here!

That was the last picture I took. Now back in Montana... 68-10772, you can have Monday off!

NOTE: I also went to AMARC, otherwise known as the aircraft "Boneyard." It is amazing in it self and deserves its own post... it will follow in a few days.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Montana survives Chestocrates and vice a versa...

Though the Montana landscape is quite impressive, the ten to one guy to girl ratio around here didn't go un noticed by Chestocrates.

Not pictured here:
(along with reason there is no picture of that event)

Canoe killing rapids (No way to take the picture and survive.)

The jerk cop (We didn't want pictures of that guy.)

Cowboys Dancing to Nine inch Nails (I am not making that up... though the picture would never work with out the sound.)

The entire town of Great Falls not celebrating the 4th of July (Couldn't get the angle right.)

Chestocrates looking up from some nachos and seriously asking "Do you suppose if that were the case, that we could even be conscience of what our bacterial masters and overlords intended? (No reason to take a picture of that, Chestocrates would just want to fuzz out his own face.)