Above: N143Z, better known as Jump 43, showing off a new paint job at McCall, Idaho, April 18, 2016. Photo by Stuart Palley.
Yesterday Stuart Palley spotted two U.S. Forest Service Twin Otter smokejumper planes at the McCall, Idaho jumper base, N141Z and N143Z. They were sporting new paint jobs but that was not all that was new. Jennifer Jones, a spokesperson for the USFS, told us that over the last two years they have received new nose gears, nose wheel steering actuators, fuel bladder tanks, fuel pumps, and floor boards.
Annually, the U.S. Forest Service Intermountain Region mechanics go over each aircraft and make sure that they are prepared, equipped, and ready for the upcoming fire season.
Dehavilland DHC-6-300 Twin Otters were manufactured in 1974 and 1984. Even though the USFS has acquired a bunch of military surplus C-23B Sherpas for smokejumping and other purposes, they plan to hang on to a couple of the Twin Otters. One of the reasons is they have better performance at higher elevation airports.