When you are a person who has an affinity for aircraft, there are a few places in this world that make your heart sing. I always get a kick out of watching airplanes fly over. Does not matter whether I know what type they are or not. I like those fabulous flying machines. I walked hallowed ground today. I also road a bus through it.
Today we drove from Phoenix to Tucson. Just on the south end of the city is the Air Force Base, Davis-Monthan. Nearby that, is Pima Air Museum. The largest Private Collection of aircraft in the WORLD. We managed to get there at 930. We both bought hats to wear for the day…Cora got a little burn on her scalp yesterday and did not wish to repeat the process. I just wanted a hat.
We walked into the first hangar. In there were several civilian jobs. Soon it became apparent it would be best if we just hit the aircraft I have been wanting to see. So we did. There was the Martin PBM Mariner, the one and only example of its kind left…some 2-3000 were built and served all over the world. It is a huge flying boat.
They also had on display the tail section retrieved from Lake Washington, near Seattle a few years ago…it was a bungled operation to raise the entire plane. I am still peeved with the idiots who did it.
Outside was the first of three Constellations. The first of several iterations of Boeing’s 707, and a few other aircraft. We saw more aircraft than Cora would probably care to count. She was a trooper, by the way. She did this for me. She walked around and took pictures when I wanted and some when I did not know she was. She let me be myself and enjoy myself doing it. It probably helped that while we walked around outside, several F-15 Eagles took off and then some A-10s. The Eagles returned and did some interesting formation work, plus breaks that you just don’t see civilian planes do. A break is a change in direction, usually away from the planes you are in company with. These F-15 pilots did not simply lazily roll over to turn, they flipped their planes on their sides and raced around corners. Cora seemed to enjoy their antics just as much as I did.
We saw several rarities. There was a C-133 and a C-124, both transports from the 1950s with numbers fewer than 15 remaining.
The same can be said for the B-58 Hustler and the B-36(4 remaining).
I don’t know how many A-5s are left, but this is the first one I have seen.
The only downside or bummer of the day was that one of our camera batteries had apparently failed to charge. And to top it off the only time we found that out was when the other died. So we hurriedly charged it in the diner and then let the other charge while we took our AMARG tour (which, they said today, stands for Aerospace Maintenance And Regeneration Group, I think I had “Aircraft” as that first “A” yesterday).
The AMARG tour was AWESOME!! We got on the bus and road over to the air base. Then they drove past lines and lines of aircraft. Some await scrapping and others will fly again. F-4 Phantoms may be target drones, but F-14s, which were recently (2006) taken out of service are being disposed of quickly. The reason for this was a silly mistake made by our government some thirty years ago. We sold, then New, F-14s to Iran. Their avionics (basically flight electronics) were different, but they were mostly the same airplane. Well, shortly after they received some odd number…30, 40? 100? The Shaw came to power and began his hate America thing. Our technicians were still there showing the Iranians how to fly and maintain them. Well, when the Shaw began his diatribes and anti-American stuff, our American technicians took some important little pieces with them and went home. That, and the fact that the US has kept F-14 spare parts from going on the market, has kept the Iranians from using these top of the line aircraft.
There were some oddballs on what they call Celebrity Row. One pair was the YC-14 and YC-15. They competed with each other during the 1970s to try to replace the C-130...guess which one is still flying...Yep, the C-130 is still here, 50 years after production began...they still make it.
We had a great time and are near exhaustion tonight…we took off by seven this morning…got gas and coffee, we did not make it back until almost 8(?) tonight.
An interesting thing with AZ is that the freeway speed limit is 75mph in places…usually people ignore that and go 85 or 90! The mileage on our rented Nissan Sentra was dismal at those speeds. We hear sounds that make us wonder if it will make it. It has sensitive brakes and throttle. It is not our Camry.
On the way back we drove through Tucson looking for the In ‘n’ Out Burger…a treat we have not had in over two years! We found it and ordered their biggest burgers! Then about 40 miles down the road we decided we were thirsty and decided to stop. It was at another mall…and there was another California favorite of ours…a Rubio’s! If we had not had the big burgers and the milk shakes we could have had some street tacos…ohhh, the humanity!