Tour of the USFS seaplane base at Ely, Minnesota

This is a very interesting video about the only seaplane base operated by the U.S. Forest Service. It was uploaded to YouTube by David Quam and features USFS Pilot Dean Lee who does an excellent job of patiently describing the de Havilland Beaver DHC-2, three of which are seen at the base: N131Z, N132Z, and N133Z. Mr. Lee says in the video that the USFS purchased them new from de Havilland. FAA registration records shows that they were manufactured between 1956 and 1959.

Mr. Lee explained in the video that the Beavers can scoop water into a 125-gallon tank and drop it on fires. They are also used for wildlife radio┬átracking, search and rescue, recon, medivac, cargo, and “body hauling”.

While working on the Section 33 Fire in Voyageurs National Park north of Ely in August of 2004 we used one of the USFS Beavers for suppression and recon.

Havilland Beaver Voyageurs National Park
A U.S. Forest Service de Havilland Beaver preparing for a recon flight over the Section 33 Fire in Voyageurs National Park, August 11, 2004. The red object under the belly of the aircraft that looks like a bomb or torpedo is the 125-gallon water tank used to suppress wildfires. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

Float planes are very useful in the parts of Minnesota that have as much water as dry land.

Section 33 Fire in Voyageurs National Park
A portion of the Section 33 Fire in Voyageurs National Park, August 11, 2004. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Mathew.