Pinal Airpark is a relatively unknown dark tourism destination to most people, but a strangely attractive destination for aviation enthusiasts (Affectionately known as #avgeeks) and those who want to explore the remnants of an airplane graveyard. Almost halfway between the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas, the Pinal Airpark (IATA: MZJ) is a destination for aircraft storage for retired or out-of-service aircraft. This location, along with others, was relatively unknown before COVID-19; however, with the dramatic global travel contraction during the COVID-19 pandemic, dozens of international airlines scrambled to reduce costs and store aircraft that were no longer needed.
Aircraft of all types, ages, and configurations have made the trek to the Arizona desert location for long-term storage until they are either returned to service or sold for parts/scrap metal. The desert southwest is particularly suitable for long-term storage of these multi-million-dollar machines due to the stable climate and low humidity.
California’s Victorville Airport (IATA: VCV), located in San Bernardino County, is another well-known aircraft graveyard location that is also home to many retired aircraft.
Pinal Airpark Uncensored
The Pinal Airpark website says they have “limited availability for tours,” but COVID-19 has largely eliminated most tours; when I visited, there were no tours available. Keep in mind the Airpark is an operational, non-towered public-use airport, which means that FAA rules apply for access.
There is an access road adjacent to the service side of the airport where most of the places are stored, and it’s an awe-inspiring sight to see so many airlines from around the world sitting in the hot, dry Arizona desert.
There is a DC-9 and 747 parked on private property near the Airpark, which is interesting to see up close. However, be mindful that this is private property, not public land.