Article Written By Ilan Levy
MIAMI – Of the twelve airports in the metro Phoenix, Arizona area, a region with a population nearing five million people, the Phoenix Goodyear Airport (GYR) must be one of the most unique airports in the Valley of the Sun. Revolving around a single 8,501 foot runway 3-21 are about 63 airliners of various sizes and ages.
On the northeast side, there are airlines such as United (UA), El Al (LY), Iberia (IB), National Airlines (N8), China Southern Airlines (CZ), Singapore Airlines (SQ), and Corsair (SS) along with Boeing 757, 777, 767, 717, 737, 747, McDonnell Douglas MD-80, Airbus A340, A320, A319, and a Douglas DC-7 aircraft.
During the grounding period of the Boeing 737 MAX, UA stationed 14 of the type at GYR to prevent corrosion due to the humidity and the weather conditions compared to other parts of the world. Arizona has many different aircraft boneyards due to the state’s naturally arid climate.
In central and southern Arizona, the heat is excruciating with summertime temperatures of 110℉ (43℃) or more but the lack of moisture combined with the heat means that the aircraft in GYR and other boneyards can survive their stay.
On the west of the runway, along the aptly named “Boeing Boulevard” is a “40 acre aircraft heavy maintenance and modification facility… and extensive dry-desert storage for up to 150 aircraft” operated by AerSale. Using parts from the aircraft on hand at GYR, the company has converted quite a few Erickson Aero Tanker aircraft for firefighting purposes. The aircraft are even maintained at GYR facilities.
Before saving life and property from fire, the MD-87 aircraft operated by Erickson Aero Tanker were in regular passenger configurations. For example, tanker 101 (N291EA), was previously flown by Japan Airlines (JL) from the early 1990s until the late 2000s.
Tanker 102 (N292EA), was flying for Iberia (IB) and Spanair (JK) and then later at SAS (SK) until it was converted at the AerSale Hanger at GYR. In addition, Lufthansa Aviation Training USA is located just a few blocks away.
For any avgeek or individual, GYR is a must-see in the Phoenix area. The airport is an amazing place to drive down to and enjoy the majestic beauty of the sleeping giants by the neighboring road.
Featured image: A view of some of the Boeing 777s and other large aircraft stored at Goodyear (GYR). Taken on December 31 2020. Photo: © Ilan Levy – @daflyinguruguayan