Pinal Airpark Airport (MZJ) and Marana Army Air Field in Arizona
Evergreen International Boeing 747s at the Pinal Airpark in Arizona (Staff photo)
The Pinal Airpark Airport, located in Marana, Arizona, northwest of Tucson, is a county-owned airport located just north of the Pinal/Pima county line along Interstate 10.
On the grounds of the airport are a variety of tenants, both private sector and government. One primary function is serving as a "boneyard" for civilian commercial aircraft as well as airliner storage and reconfiguration. Out-of-service airliners are stored there as the dry, low humidity of the Sonoran desert provides an ideal storage environment.
Marana Army Air Field in the Post-WWII Years
The Marana Army Air Field became the largest pilot-training center in the world during WWII, training over 10,000 flyers.
The field was closed after World War II and in 1948 Pinal County took possession of the property. From 1948-51, Pinal County leased the property to multiple tenants, and from 1951–56, Marana was reused as a contractor-operated USAF flying school, operated by Darr Aeronautical Technical Company.
During the Vietnam War, the airfield was dominated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and used as one of the Agency's primary facilities for global covert air operations. A number of CIA false "front" aviation companies operated there, including Intermountain Airlines. "Air America" had its roots at Marana.
In 1979 Evergreen International Aviation, a provider of passenger and cargo services, took over the facility lease. Three years later, in 1982, Evergreen Air Center opened its doors offering maintenance, initially on Evergreen’s fleet. In 2007 the company changed its name to Evergreen Maintenance Center and conducted business until its acquisition by Relativity Capital.
The last of the small Beechcraft Starship fleet was built in 1995, and by 2003 Beechcraft had decided that supporting a small fleet of airplanes was cost-prohibitive. Raytheon Aircraft thus began scrapping and incinerating the aircraft, with Pinal Airpark chosen as the locale for the work. Several Starships still survive today, some in airworthy condition.
Pinal Airpark Today
Today, the Pinal County Airport Economic Development Department is responsible for the development and management of two airports in the County. San Manuel Airport is a General Aviation Airport that is located in the town of San Manuel. Pinal Airpark is a reliever airport whose main tenant performs A&P service on aircraft for a multitude of customers, as well as aircraft storage.
For more information on the Pinal Aipark, visit the website of Pinal County, or contact Jim Petty, the Economic Development Director for the airport, at 520.866.6545.
Pinal Airpark is the home of Marana Aerospace Solutions, Evergreen Trade Inc., and the Silverbell Army Heliport (SAHP). The airpark covers an area of 2,080 acres, and sits at an elevation of 1,893 feet above mean sea level. It has one runway designated 12/30 with an asphalt surface measuring 6,849 by 150 feet.
Marana Aerospace Solutions
Marana Aerospace Solutions offers more than 600 acres of secured ramp and storage area for all sizes of aircraft at the Pinal Airpark.
Airliners in storage at Pinal Airpark in Arizona
Formerly Evergreen Maintenance Center, Marana Aerospace Solutions is internationally recognized as one of the world’s most reliable aviation service facilities.
It specializes in comprehensive full-life aircraft care, including heavy maintenance, overhaul, commercial storage, component repairs, paint, interior, detailing, and end of life options.
Marana Aerospace Solutions occupies 1,200 acres and is one of the world’s largest commercial aviation resources and can accommodate over 400 aircraft. It offers three maintenance hangars with 100,000 sq. ft. of space to accommodate the world’s largest aircraft.
Marana also offers more than 600 acres of secured ramp and storage area for all sizes of aircraft for storage and parking. It also provides aircraft paint and exterior detailing services. It features a parts removal program, and can arrange for the disposal of aircraft hulls, and can pack, crate and ship aircraft parts and engines.
JetYard LLC is a FAA 145 Repair Station #7QAR515C, providing complete aircraft storage and parking along with part-out and disassembly services. These services can also inlcude demolition and recycling for aging aircraft and engines. JetYard can disassemble, part-out and recycle all commercial and military aircraft manufactured by Boeing, Airbus, McDonnell Douglas, Bombardier, Embraer, Lockheed Martin and others.
Jet Yard has an inventory of aircraft parts for sale. These parts have been harvested from aircraft or engines that Jet Yard has purchased. All parts have been removed and tagged by experienced FAA licensed Airframe and Powerplant Technicians. Jet Yard will also source parts to facilitate customer needs.
The company's storage facility is located at 85233 E. Pinal Airpark Road, Suite 100, Marana, AZ 85653. Their headquarters at at 1800 East Cliff Road, Suite 9, Burnsville, MN 55337-1375.
Pinal Airpark Location, Driving Directions and Access
Entrance area, Pinal Airpark
Pinal Airpark can be reached via I-10 Exit 232 onto the Pinal Air Park Road ... the gate area is about 3 miles west of Interstate 10.
When we last visited Pinal in May of 2015, dozens of airliners were parked at various locations around the airpark.
While the airpark was previously not accessible by the general public, the entrance gate and guard house have now been removed and several roads are open and drivable. Airliners can be seen from these roads, some close-up, others at a distance.
As always, we recommend obeying all warning signs and avoiding restricted areas.
For more information, we recommend you contact the airpark and/or tenant companies and government agencies for current information on access and possible tours. You can also visit the website of Pinal County, or contact Jim Petty, the Economic Development Director for the airport, at 520.866.6545.
Aerial Views of the Pinal Airpark
Aerial view of the Pinal Airpark near Marana Arizona (courtesy of Bing Maps)
Need Help Spotting Airliners?
With the wide variety of jet airliners serving the worldwide travel market today and in storage at Pinal, identification of individual manufacturers and aircraft can be a bit tricky.
On our new website we have included quick and easy guides to spotting the common jet airliners of the day. We include airliners from Airbus, Boeing, Embraer and Bombardier.
Photos of Pinal Airpark
Exit 232 off Interstate I-10 to Pinal Air Park Road (May 2015)
Gate area at the Pinal Airpark in Arizona
Pinal Airpark in Arizona directional sign (May 2015)
Airbus airliner being scrapped at the Pinal Airpark in Arizona (May 2015)
Airliners in storage at the Pinal Airpark in Arizona, including two Boeing 727 jets (May 2015)
Boeing 747-412 BCF, B-2453, on the tarmac at the Pinal Airpark in Arizona (May 2015)
Boeing 747 jumbo airliners in storage at the Pinal Airpark in Arizona (May 2015)
Brazilian cargo VarigLog DC-10 airliners in storage at the Pinal Airpark in Arizona (May 2015)
Evergreen International Boeing 747s at the Pinal Airpark in Arizona (May 2015).
Seen in the foreground is Boeing 747-230B, registration N487EV.
Airliner at the Pinal Airpark in Arizona (May 2015)
Nose view of Boeing 747 at the Pinal Airpark in Arizona (May 2015)
Evergreen Boeing 747-100 firefighting Supertanker, N479EV, tail number 979,
and airliners at the Pinal Airpark in Arizona (October 2012)
YouTube Video of Pinal Airpark in Marana, Arizona (May 2015)
Fox 10 News Phoenix
Video of Marana Aerospace Solutions:
"Where airplanes go to die and others to live again"
Interactive Map of Pinal Air Park area in Arizona
Map of locations of active and post-WWII airplane boneyards and plane storage facilities in the United States
The Impact of World War II on Marana
With the beginning of World War II, the War Department had to quickly mobilize its air forces, and train its airmen. The prime areas selected for new training airfields were the deserts of the southwestern United States, which offered wide-open spaces and year-round flying conditions.
Nearly 200 airfields and air strips were built in the southwest, from West Texas to Southern California. More than 60 airfields and strips were built in Arizona alone between 1942 and 1944, the majority in central and southern Arizona.
The impact of the rising tide of military air power came quickly to Marana. Among the dozens of bases built by the War Department in Arizona from 1942 to 1944 as part of that immense mobilization was a dusty airfield just south of Picacho Peak.
In 1942, the U.S. Government bought about 3.5 square miles of the old Aguirre Ranch southwest of Red Rock for construction of an air base.
The air field was built in 1942 by the Sundt & Del Webb Construction Companies in just three months. The construction transformed what was mostly farmland surrounded by desert into a bustling Army airfield, with a "lean-to" kitchen and small shacks with screenless windows. By 1943, the base was in full operation.
The base was originally known as Marana Army Air Field, and was under the command of the 389th Army Air Force Base Unit, AAF West Coast Training Center. Its prime function was a pilot training base, and conducted basic flight training & the training of transport pilots in instrument flying and navigation.
The Marana AAF became the largest pilot-training center in the world during WWII, training over 10,000 flyers. To serve the nearby military facility, the highway from Tucson to Casa Grande was improved and soon became the major road through the Marana area. A German and Italian prisoner-of-war camp was also built northwest of Marana, and the prisoners helped harvest crops.
In addition to the main Marana air field, there also were several satellite fields used for landing and takeoff training:
- Picacho Auxiliary
- Rillito Auxiliary (today, the Marana Regional Airport)
- Coronado or the Red Rock Auxiliary
- Avra Auxiliary
- Sahuaro Auxiliary (today, the El Tiro Gliderport)
Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site (WAATS)
Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site
Just north of the airpark is the Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site (WAATS) located at the Silverbell Army Heliport Marana. Co-located at the heliport is the 1st/285th Apache Helicopter Attack Battalion, a unit of the Arizona Army National Guard. The site is used for Apache (ARNG AH-64) helicopter training and military combat training operations.
The WAATS is the premier training site for attack and aero-scout helicopter training for the Army National Guard. The training site also serves both active duty and National Guard aviators with simulation support, utilizing the AH-1 Flight Weapons Simulator or the AH-64 Combat Mission Simulator.
Parachute Training and Testing Facility
Pinal Airpark also hosts the U.S. Special Operations Command's Parachute Training and Testing Facility. In 1992, United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) bought 480 acres of Airpark land in the southwest corner of the leased property for $1,000,000. The acquired property includes the use of the Airpark runway.
Another airport in the area is Marana Regional Airport (AVQ), purchased by the Town in 1999 from Pima County. It is classified as a general aviation reliever airport for Tucson International.
It is located approximately 15 nautical miles northwest of Tucson and is 5 miles west of Interstate 10 on Avra Valley Road. The airport is home to more than 310 based aircraft and had more than 110,000 takeoffs and landings in 2010. The airport's main runway is 6,900 feet and the crosswind runway is 3,900 feet.
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Vintage Postcards from the AirplaneBoneyards.com Collection
Evergreen International Boeing 747
Evergreen International Boeing 727