Photos © Ruud Leeuw

USA Southwest 2008

Tucson's Salvage Yards

Many histories of the propliners that I am interested in, feature former (US) military aircraft and most seem to have spent a period in storage in the Arizona desert. Chances are, they have been stored in the AMARC (ex/ MASDC) area of Davis Monthan AFB.

Surrounding the AMARC are several salvage yards and aircraft are parted out here or continue from here to another owner for use of parts, preservation or made airworthy again... So I decided to have a look here.
Things did not quite work out as I had hoped, because I found myself having difficulty locating them! I had brought screen dumps from Google Maps but I ended up in streets with the right name but nowhere a salvage yard to be seen...
Must have been driving for almost an hour before I found one, feeling quite frustrated as my time for aviation that day had run out.

The next day I bought a proper streetmap at a gasstation and saw what my problem had been: Highway I-10 cuts right across the town and on both sides are streetnames the same but they don't connect anymore... Initially I had been looking at the wrong side of the highway!
While I found my way around more easily now, I found the salvage yards closed, being a Saturday. I only visited the yards across Pima Air & Space Museum and did not explore any further (e.g. along Kolb Road).

The only salvage yard I came to visit was SAMCO on E.Drexel Rd. Could find no website of them.
I found they knew all about aviation enthusiasts such as me as he had people over from the UK who remarked that he had moved some aircraft, comparing the parking positions with what they had seen on Google Earth...

SAMCO specialises in the HU-16 Albatross. I was told the salvage yards were looking at a bleak future, since their access and dealings with the AMARC had been severely curtailed by the GW Bush Administration; instead complete airframes were simply cut up and sold to the smelters.

131905 HU-16CGrumman HU-16C Albatross, serial 131905 (c/n G-278), has probably found a last resting place here.. But it has been and still is registered as N7026N to Robert F. Carlson (East Walpole, Mass.) on 30Oct96.

The Grumman HU-16 Albatross is a large twin-radial engine amphibious flying boat. Originally designated SA-16, it was renamed HU-16 in 1962.
The majority of Albatrosses were used by the U.S. Air Force, primarily by the Air Rescue Service. The USAF utilized the SA-16 extensively in Korea, where it gained a reputation as a rugged and seaworthy craft. Later, the HU-16B (long-wing variant) Albatross was used by the U.S. Air Force's Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service in the Vietnam conflict. The HU-16D Albatross was used for United States Navy Search And Rescue and "skunk runs" on Guam during the Vietnam War at NAS Agana. Goodwill flights were also common to the surrounding Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands in the early 1970s. Open water landing and takeoff training using JATO was conducted frequently at Apra Harbor, Guam. The aircraft was also operated by the United States Coast Guard for many years.
In 1970, Conroy Aircraft marketed a remanufactured HU-16A with Rolls-Royce Dart turboprop engines as the Conroy Turbo Albatross, but only the single prototype (registration N16CA) was ever built.
[Source: Wikipedia]
Btw, N16CA lives on as a travelling exhibit, modified to resembe a WW2 bomber... See my Searchfor page
137924 HU-16C 137924 wears faded markings of service at NAS Brunswick. It has been registered to Charles D. Wootan (6401 E Drexel Rd Unit 2, Tucson) on 15jun07 as N7028C.
Its construction number is G-397.
SAMCo salvage Tucson
A look into the yard of Samco

Albatross 131917 has been registered as N7024Z to Charles D. Wootan (see above) on 15Jun07.
It has c/n G-314.

Did not find any markings on this one, but was told it was being restored for an owner or a buyer.
N7026C (Bu.149836, c/n G-90) was registered to Tom Casey of Carson City,NV on 02Feb95.

Built and delivered as JR2F-1 Pelican, a USAF search and rescue version. Original designation was OA-16A. 5 went to the USNavy as UF-1, BuNo. 149822 / 149824, 149836 (later to USCG 1017), 149837. Produced during 1949 - 1954 at Grumman Bethpage, New York. [Source: ]

N7026C was registered to Candlewood Clipper LLC, Carson City,NV on 16Nov11. There may be hope yet!

In July 2017 I received an update by Joe Chrom, sending me a photo of a finely restored N7026C in the water, at Candlewood Lake,CT! See Photo by Friends & Guests (50).

This is HU-16B 51-7223, registered to Charles D. Wootan (see above) on 15Jun07. Its construction number is G-303 and I have seen this aircraft also referred to as a HU-16E (see
SAMCO a.k.a. Specialized Aircraft Maintenance Corporation has a 'collection' on




Came across this unidentified Beech 18 in SAMCO's yard.
Had a look inside but found no tell-taling markings...
Information appreciated.

This was shot from the SAMCO's gate onto the some sort ofperimeter road to the AMARC: prohibited to cross! Here is another Google Maps screendump to clarify the location.

Western salvage yard SAMCO and this yard, Western (on S.Wilmot Rd) were the yards I had a look at friday 16May08.
Western was closed and had in fact signs on the fence: "no photography"! Yeah, duh....


Next door to SAMCO was another yard, but I saw no access to it and was running out of time. Below are, what seems to be, two Lockheed Constellation airframes. Or what is left of them.
I would have loved to explore more!

RC-45J  29618 Across SAMCO's yard (entrance on S.Wilmot Rd) is another one with a huge selection of Grumman S-2's. This Beech RC-45J 29618 (7677) was parked in a corner and was photographed, with some difficulty, over the fence.
29618 is listed to be with Specialized Aircraft Maintenance on the OldProps Beech 18 (US) Census, but I think Specialized Aircraft Maintenance is SAMCO and this RC-45J sits in a small yard across the road from SAMCO's main site.

The identity of 29618 seems in question by some.
Graham Robson
did some investigative reporting and wrote me on 05Dec08: "About the mysterious UC-45 saga... 
29618 in the scrapyard on Drexel Road is, I strongly believe, the genuine 29618.  It has been there for years now, in the same general condition, whilst the example on Avra Valley, again a former USN C-45, was opened a while ago and is now firmly locked.  I looked closely at 29618 in the yard today, there is a very big gap in the mesh fence next to it, making access easy, and its flightdeck panel is stripped .... INCLUDING the radio call plate !"  

I took this shot over the fence of the (closed) yard on 5080 E. Nebraska Street, the Aircraft Restoration & Marketing-ARM (formerly DMI?).
On the right is 17150 (AMARC code 6C020, US Navy titles still visible) and in the middle is 50784, also former US Navy.
17150 is a Douglas C-117D with c/n 43311, which I learned from this photo.
The Old Props DC-3 (USA) Census has 50784 as C-117 c/n 43380 and 'in ARM scrapyard, Tucson, Arizona.'

Btw, that AMARC (or AMARG) code (e.g. 6C020) was explained to me as: 'IG = Inspector General. 90-201 = AFI 90-201: The Air Force Inspection System document.'

Whilst browsing in april 2013 I stumbled on a website: C-117s noted in Oct.2012 here at ARMair were: 12412, 17150, 17194 and 50812.

Click here for more...



Thanks to the people of SAMCO for their hospitality. Thanks!

Useful links:
AMARC Experience
Google Maps

The Road Goes On... back to US Southwest 2008

Reactions / comments welcomed.