Alistair Maclean's Web Site
What is Davis-Monthan?
Under a hot Tucson sky

What is this?

Davis-Monthan has been an active air base since the 1920's, it is situated in a broad valley next to the city of Tucson, Arizona, in the South Western United States. The valley is semi arid, meaning it gets very little rain. Some areas are technically desert, getting less than 10" (250mm) of rain a year. The surface of the valley consists of a well consolidated grit. It is a tough surface, one that has great load bearing strength. With the low rainfall and naturally strong surface the location made an ideal storage facility for aircraft that were considered surplus to current requirements.

The base lies just to the south of Tucson city limits, the AMARC facility off to the East. Various roads surround the airbase, but the most active is Kolb Road, that becomes Valencia and runs through Tucson, turns south through AMARC (passing through the middle of the base) and heads south to the Pima Air and Space Museum (PASM), then on to the Tucson Airport.

There are a variety of dirt roads around the airbase that provide some access to more out-of-the-way parts, though most of the visually interesting parts are easy to see from paved roads.

There are various scrapyards around the base that take older aircraft and turn them into aluminium ingot. One is close to the entrance of the AMARC facility on Kolb, the others seem to be further to the south of the base, mostly off Valencia. PASM has obtained a number of aircraft through the scrap yards in recent years, as well as those that come directly off the base.

Davis Monthan is an active airbase, flying A-10's, and EC-130 Compass Cope. Note that any F-16's seen in the area tend to be Arizona Air National Guard aircraft, based at the Tucson International Airport, not at D-M AFB.

How to get there

Tucson sides in the southern half of Arizona. Two Interstates serve the city (I-10, I-19). You can fly directly to Tucson, though these flights generally change in Phoenix. Or you can fly to Phoenix and drive the 2 hours to Tucson. Check airfares carefully, the last time we went down, flying directly to Tucson, through Phoenix was cheaper than flying directly to Phoenix.

Other options are to make yourself a grand Southwestern tour, start by flying into Las Vegas, then drive down seeing the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Phoenix and then onto Tucson. Just remember to hide some money from the voracious slot machines in Vegas.

Driving across Arizona is not hard, though the mileage's are impressive, so don't scoff at the prospect of doing marathon drives. Arizona speed limits are up around 75mph, so distance is eaten swiftly. Note also that most Arizona roads are very quiet. If you decide to drive on backroads you may see almost no one for hours.

Web Addresses

Davis Monthan AFB
Arizona tourism covering Tucson
Microsoft Terraserver satellite imagery showing AMARC

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