Our last day in Tucson was spent at the Pima Air and Space Museum where we took a tour of the famous military aircraft boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base which is adjacent to the museum. This base is well known as the main storage facility for most military aircraft that are not in service. The aircraft stored here are not necessarily doomed to never fly again. They are being held in reserve in case the need should arrive, or in some cases are being stored as a source for replacement parts that are no longer available. In fact, they have received some new aircraft that have never been put in service as they weren't presently needed. Tucson's dry climate and alkali soil made it an ideal location for aircraft storage and preservation. I came across an excellent you tube video of a similar bus tour which you can view here, or I'm posting some of the better pictures I was able to take from inside the bus. The tour is coordinated through the museum and cost $10/each.
Today (Saturday), we drove about 50 miles north on US Highway 70 to the White Sands National Monument. White Sands is better known for being home to the US Army Missile Test Range where many important events have occurred, including the site of the first atomic bomb detonation, but we were there to view the snow white sand dunes of the White Sands National Monument. Actually the name White Sands is a misnomer in that the sand is not sand at all, but is fine particles of gypsum. Gypsum is a mineral prevalent in the mountains surrounding the area and the water running from the streams in the mountains carries the gypsum into lake beds that dry up. When the water in the lake evaporates, the gypsum forms crystals and is blown by prevailing winds until the cystals are formed into tiny granules that resemble sand. The wind carries the granules into the valley forming dunes that are forever changing. The gypsum granules, unlike sand, are water permeable and will adhere together when wet and then stick together after drying making it easier to walk or drive on. We saw many folks sliding and playing in the sand, er gypsum, that were having a great time.
Our next stop is Carlsbad, New Mexico where we plan to explore Carlsbad Caverns. From there we're planning on cutting the trip short and start heading back home towards North Carolina.We want to be home for Thanksgiving and our time is running short since we are still over 1500 miles from home.
|Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson.|
|I can't recall the ID of each of these aircraft. Bet a lot of you folks out there in blogger land will recognize a lot of them.|
|Think these guys are C-130's. They told us these planes are still in production today.|
|Engines that have been removed.|
|Plane that was painted in Soviet camouflage .|
|They even had a Blue Angel plane.|
|A-10 Warthog. They had 3 squadrons of these stationed at Davis-Monthan AFB|
|The stealth F-117|
|These were tankers of some type. Must have been several hundred of them.|
|There were a lot of C-5A s|
|Highway 70 from Las Cruces to White Sands|
|Walkway into dunes.|
|Looks like snow.|
|Unusual but effective picnic table shelters.|
|The kiddies were having a great time.|