Introduction to the Redmond Tanker Base

Above: a 47-second video showing the aircraft at the Redmond Tanker Base on June 13, 2016.

Clouds were hovering just above the ridges bordering the valley around the Redmond, Oregon airport when I was there on Monday, June 13. There was a chance of rain across the entire Pacific Northwest and there were no orders for the four large air tankers staged at the Redmond Air Tanker Base.

Eric Graff, who has been the base manager for the last 12 years, said they had been busy in recent days sending tankers to fires in Oregon and northern California. They had pumped 165,000 gallons of fire retardant into tankers so far this fire season.

Eric Graff
Base Manager Eric Graff (left) and timekeeper Cynthia Buehner at the Redmond Air Tanker Base.

Working with Mr. Graff on Monday was Cynthia Buehner, in her third season as timekeeper for the base, and summer seasonal, Marissa Kraweczak, whose previous experience before this year was on the Zigzag Hotshots.

Also at the base was the normal contingent of pilots and mechanics for the four tankers that were on the ramp — three Aeroflite RJ85s, and one Neptune Aviation P2V. One lead plane was also on scene.

Pilatus PC12 lead plane
Aeroflite’s Pilatus PC12 (right) and a lead plane (left) at Redmond, Oregon. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

I asked Mr. Graff if dispatchers proactively tried to group aircraft from the same company together at a tanker base, and he said no, it was not intentional. Aeroflite recognized that they had three of their tankers and crews at Redmond and called a meeting, with executives flying in on the company’s Pilatus PC12. The state of Colorado recently purchased two PC12s to use as intelligence gathering and communications platforms, calling them “multi-mission aircraft”.

Other fire-related operations at the Redmond Airport include the Redmond Smokejumpers, the Northwest Fire Training Center, the Redmond Hotshots, and the Regional Air Group which supplies pilots for the jumpers and lead planes.

Tanker 163
Tanker 163 at Redmond, June 13, 2016. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
tanker 44
Tanker 44 at Redmond, June 13, 2016. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
tanker 162
Tanker 162 at Redmond, June 13, 2016. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
tanker 161
Tanker 161 at Redmond, June 13, 2016. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
tanker 44 tanker 161
Tanker 44, in the foreground, and Tanker 161 at Redmond, June 13, 2016. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

Photos of air tankers departing from Medford

Above: Tanker 163 departing from Medford, Oregon. 

We have been honored recently with a wealth of information and photos from Medford, Oregon. Tim Crippin took these between June 7th and 9th of air tankers departing from the air tanker base for the Pony Fire in Northern California.

tanker 162 Medford
Tanker 162 departing from Medford.
tanker 85 Medford
Tanker 85 departing from Medford.

Air tanker activity at Medford

Above: Tanker 162 at Medford, Oregon. Photo by Kristin Biechler.

Kristin Biechler sent us these photos of air tankers at Medford, Oregon. She said Tankers 62, 162, and 163 have busy there for the last few days.

Medford T-62
T-62 at Medford, OR. Photo by Kristin Biechler.
Medford T-163
T-163 at Medford, OR. Photo by Kristin Biechler.

Photos of aircraft fighting bushfires in Victoria, Australia

Air tanker Victoria
Tanker 132

The Country Fire Authority recently released some excellent photos of aircraft that are fighting bushfires in Victoria, Australia.

Air tanker Victoria
Tanker 162

helicopter Victoria

Air tanker Victoria
Tanker 160

Air tanker Victoria

Continue reading “Photos of aircraft fighting bushfires in Victoria, Australia”

Air tankers positioned at Boise

Tanker 162
Tanker 162 at Boise. NIFC photo.

The National Interagency Fire Center posted these photos on their Facebook page today, with the following text:

What’s Happening at NIFC these days? There are 4 heavy airtankers awaiting assignment, along with 2 SEATS. These pics are of one of the Next Gen Airtankers. In the foreground is the hose on wheels that fills these guys up with retardant!

The air tanker shown above is Aero Flite’s Tanker 162, an RJ85. It does not have an exclusive use contract, but is one of the 22 air tankers that were recently awarded Call When Needed contracts.

NIFC does not say in which aircraft the interior photo below was taken, but we’re guessing it was the RJ85, Tanker 162. They also don’t say when the photos were taken or by whom.

Interior of an air tanker
Interior of an air tanker at Boise. NIFC photo.

Video of an RJ-85 dropping on fires in Australia

And here’s another one:

Managing Australia’s aerial firefighting assets

Air Tanker 162
Air Tanker 162, known as Bomber 391 in Australia, is shown with a truckload of fire retardant transported to Western Australia by the Royal Australian Air Force. (still image from the video below)

The video below, produced by the Royal Australian Air Force, provides information about how the Australian Defence Force assisted residents and fire fighting efforts in Western Australia during the recent fire seige.

Victoria firefighting aircraft
Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning Victoria welcomes 46 firefighting aircraft. (still image from the video below.)

In the next video, produced by Victoria’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning in December, 2014, officials welcome 46 firefighting aircraft of all shapes and sizes to the 2014/2015 bushfire season, including two large air tankers from North America.

And one last video — this one showing Tanker 131, known as Bomber 390 in Australia, landing at Avalon in Victoria.