Classic air tankers enhance rest stop in Greybull, Wyoming

A former Royal Canadian Air Force C-119 at the Greybull Rest Area
A former Royal Canadian Air Force C-119 at the Greybull Rest Area

When I drive through Greybull, Wyoming on highway 20/14/16 I sometimes stop at the South Big Horn County Airport to look at the dozens of old aircraft that are the remnants of the glory days of Hawkins and Powers. In 2012 there were still several old war birds on the ramp in front of the former H&P office. When I stopped today I did not see any aircraft on the ramp and the two retired C-119s that had been in the grassy field just west of the office for many years were gone.

Tanker 126 at the Greybull Rest Area
Tanker 126 at the Greybull Rest Area

It turns out that several of them have been moved a few hundred feet to the west at the highway rest stop west of the entrance to the airport (map). The aircraft are separated from the rest stop by a chain link fence, but there is a path developing in the grass along the fence where rest stop visitors walk to inspect and take pictures of the classic air tankers.

These photos were taken at the rest area through the chain link fence.

Greybull Rest Area, Tanker 127
Greybull Rest Area, Tanker 127, a PB4Y-2.
Greybull Rest Area, Tanker 136
Greybull Rest Area, Tanker 136, a C-119J

There are two C-119s. One is a J-model, Tanker 136, with the jet engine bolted onto the top, and the other still has Canadian Royal Air Force written on the side. It may never have been converted to an air tanker and does not have the jet engine. There are also two PB4Y-2 air tankers parked just outside the fence, Tankers 126 and 127.

There are still a couple of dozen old military surplus aircraft in the field northwest of the airport runways.


Tanker 127
Tanker 127, a PB4Y-2

Greybull Rest Area

The memorial to the crews of the two air tankers that crashed in 2002 is still under the tree south of the ramp area.

Memorial, Tanker 130 and 123
Memorial, Tankers 130 and 123

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9 thoughts on “Classic air tankers enhance rest stop in Greybull, Wyoming”

  1. Thanks for posting these! Ever since I saw them save our SoCal neighborhood in the 70s (4th grade) I’ve been a huge fan of H&Ps Privateers. It was sad to see the 2 losses they incurred, the breakup of the company, and the overall demise of the warbird/tanker fleet.

    But I’m stoked to see that 1) these proud birds avoided the smelter; & 2) for the 1st time in a decade, the nationwide fleet is rebuilding its ranks! Fly safe, Gentleman!

  2. Work is in progress to provide pathways and a entrance from the rest area to the aircraft for close up viewing. I have been told they plan to open sometime this summer, I am in the green front hangar on the west end of hangar row and I talk to many tourists at the west gate through out the year, from all over the country and the world for that matter and they are all eager to see the airplanes. With a little patience the museum will be open again.

  3. There has been a lot of talk about the cost of fire aviation. Americans restore very thing to better than new condition in many cases. I see three 2400 gallon air tankers that for a fraction of the cost of rebuilding a salt-laden C 130 could be placed back into service along side their brothers the P2V’s. Within fifty miles of Sacramento, Ca. there are two companies that are known for their restoration projects. Does being “old” mean that you are of no use?

  4. For years I have tried unsuccessfully to build a Radio Control Privateer. Had it not been for the mechanics at Hawkins & Powers I never would have had the information I needed to successfully complete the frame changes from a B-24 to a PB4y Privateer. I regret not having made the trip from Pinedale, Wy. to Greybull, Wy. when I was given the opportunity.

  5. My husband and I stopped in the rest area several years ago. We could not remember where this place was. Now that we know, we would like to revisit later this month. Can we visit the museum and see the rest of the area? Please let me know by Sept 12, 2014. My thanks.

  6. It is not difficult to get permission to explore inside the fence. Just call the airport the next time you’re in town and ask. This isn’t like trying to get inside Denver International. People are friendly!

    1. I changed my mind. What a bust. Don’t go. Stay away. Not worth the drive over from Cody or Sheridan or Billings.

      When I tried to go through the correct channels to get permission to see the ghost fleet, I was denied. However, the airport manager said the museum was open and he encouraged me to come see it anyway. We did – drove 120 miles from my house in Sheridan. We arrived 2pm on Saturday of Memorial Weekend which was yesterday. Not only was it closed, it didn’t appear that it had yet opened this year. If it isn’t open on Memorial Day Weekend, when will they open it? There are only four planes parked next to the museum trailer. They are interesting planes but most people would expect more. There are a half dozen really interesting planes out in the ghost fleet that should be towed over next to the museum trailer.

  7. I just discovered the Greybull rest area and adjoining airport a couple of weeks ago (4-9-2015) while on a photography jaunt through the area during my monthly week off from work in the North Dakota/Montana Bakken oil field. Thanks for sharing the information related here, for I will certainly be returning later this year in order to shoot this in detail (I assume by the previous comments the FBO doesn’t have a huge problem with granting reasonable access requests). What a pleasant surprise to see this line of classics (a couple replete with red slurry residue) behind the fence when I stopped on the way over to Cody from Buffalo. I ended up in a 2-hour conversation with another visitor that was also walking the “path” worn into the grass along the fenceline and missed the memorial to those from the lost aircraft, otherwise I would have had a better idea of the airport’s background as a base for these workhorses. Thanks for sharing your info!

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