The Pima Air and Space Museum and the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group set a new record for tours administered in the month of July.
The non-profit museum and D-M’s “Boneyard” brought in 2,060 visitors, surpassing the previous record of 1,740 set in July 2008.
The PASM, run by the Arizona Aerospace Foundation, operates tours through AMARG Monday through Friday year round. Bus tours run twice daily throughout the summer, and four times per day during the cooler winter months.
“It’s all about the heat,” said Yvonne Morris, Arizona Aerospace Foundation executive director. “Our tourism season peaks in the wintertime because we get a lot of snowbird visitors from out of town.”
AMARG opened in 1946 as a housing location for B-29s and C-47s. D-M was chosen for the group due to the low humidity and hard soil. Today, AMARG stores nearly 4,000 aircraft and 7,000 engines on more than 2,600 acres of land for all branches of service. About 15 years ago, the museum, D-M and AMARG worked out an agreement which would allow PASM to run the bus tours through the boneyard.
The tours cost $7 for adults, $4 for children and run about 90 minutes. Guests cannot leave the bus during the tour, but can take photos through the bus windows. During the tour, the guide goes over the history of AMARG and PASM as well as each aircraft and how and why they are preserved.
“We drive this highway all the time and never knew what [the Boneyard] was,” said Ovida Scales, a tour participant. “We had some extra time and thought we’d stop for the tour.”
Cecil Scales, a former Navy-Air aviation electrician and tour participant, said he was glad to hear the aircraft are preserved and still used for parts even after they are decommissioned.
Morris expressed that most of those who visit Monday-Friday, are from outside Tucson’s local area. When Col. Robert Lepper, former AMARG commander, realized this, he started to work with the base commander and Morris to make a day available where AMARG and PASM could reach the local community.
“We have wanted to do Saturday tours because we knew we could reach Tucsonans,” Morris said. “Last year we ran our first ‘Labor Saturday’ tour and it was a big success, so we are repeating it this year.”
According to the museum’s press release, the once-per-year Saturday tour will operate August 30 with four different run times. Last year, tickets sold out.
For more information on AMARG, visit http://www.dm.af.mil/units/amarc.asp or http://www.dm.af.mil/library/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=529.
For more information on PASM and tours, visit http://www.pimaair.org/.