The CP-140 Arcturus tail number 120 flew its last flight to its retirement home at the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) in Tucson, Arizona, on Feb. 28.
Three Arcturus, tail numbers 119, 120 and 121, were delivered to 14 Wing Greenwood, N.S., in 1993; now only 119 is operational and is used as a training aircraft for the school at 404 Long Range Patrol and Training (LRP&T) Squadron, at 14 Wing.
Arcturus 120 was retired with 10,300 flying hours on its airframe and more than 23,000 landings.
“Aircraft 120 performed magnificently en route to Arizona,” said Major Mike Smith of 14 Air Maintenance Squadron (AMS), who has worked on the CP-140 Aurora fleet since joining the Canadian Forces in 1990. “14 AMS and the wing should be very proud of the product delivered to AMARG, as there was a tremendous level of effort to prepare the Arcturus for its final flight. The moment it was signed over, bidding adieu to the Arcturus, was truly a sad day for all persons there.”
It joins the 4,900 aircraft stored on AMARG’s high-security, 1,052 hectare area.
There are aircraft as far as the eyes could see in any direction – with some looking as pristine as the day they rolled of the assembly line while others were in various states of repair or destruction.
The oldest aircraft stored there are the Russian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 and the MiG-21 supersonic jet fighters, circa 1947 and 1959, respectively. Several aircraft from various countries are housed there for storage and surplus reasons.
The AMARG is a huge piece of American aviation history, and all who attended this trip kept repeating two words: unbelievable and amazing.
“All the aircrew felt privileged, happy and sad all at the same time,” said Major Bruno Baker, aircraft commander for this final flight. “It was emotional. A large part of our Air Force heritage and history has [come to an end]..”
Perhaps one of the most memorable moments for the crew was when they were handing over the aircraft to the AMARG staff and were given the opportunity to sign their names on the Arcturus with felt pens.
So, the hangar doors have closed on another era in the long history of Long Range Patrol aircraft. The future, with the technological capabilities available to us now, is only limited by our imagination.