Above: Removal of victims at the 1949 Mann Gulch Fire. USFS photo.
The aircraft that dropped the smokejumpers who attacked the Mann Gulch Fire in 1949 is scheduled to cross the Atlantic next year to take part in the 75th commemoration of D-Day. The fire in Montana on which 12 jumpers and one fire guard died in 1949 is infamous among wildland firefighters as its memory lives on when more generations read about the tragedy in Norman Maclean’s book Young Men and Fire.
The Missoulian has the story about how numerous volunteers are mobilizing to work on the 74-year old aircraft’s airworthiness and regulatory compliance — it has not been in the air since 2001.
Below is an excerpt from the article:
It seems preposterous.
Take an historic, over-the-hills smokejumper plane that was last airborne in 2001, fix it up to federal standards, and fly it to Europe next year for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Maybe even drop jumpers into France, pulling ripcords of old-fashioned round parachutes and wearing suits their grandfathers used during the Normandy invasion in France on June 6, 1944.
And while you’re there, hit Germany to take part in the 70th anniversary commemoration of the Berlin Airlift (1948-49).