The owner of a crop dusting service in Kansas has acquired an S-2 air tanker formerly operated by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE).
Bill Garrison, owner of Ag Air Service out of Nikerson, Kansas, said that after he used his crop dusters in 2017 to aid firefighters by dropping water on wildfires, he decided he wanted a bigger airplane.
KWCH reported that the Kansas Forest Service has a call when needed agreement to use the plane on fires for $4,000 an hour.
The aircraft was constructed as an S-2A, according to aerialvisuals.ca, with the BuNo 136508. CAL FIRE operated it as Tanker 81 and 93 with registration number N477DF. At some point the tanker number changed to 95, the number still used today, and was owned by Yesterday’s Flyers and later, Cactus Air Force, both in Nevada. The current registration number is N508JR under the ownership of Mr. Garrison, with a certificate issue date of February 14, 2019.
The aircraft can carry up to 800 gallons and still has the radial engines, unlike the S-2s operated by CAL FIRE today that have been converted to turbine engines.
Mr. Garrison said he used one of the company’s planes in 2017 to drop 20,000 gallons of water on the Highlands Fire in Reno County, chipping in to help when the Kansas National Guard Blackhawk helicopter pilots ran out of duty time. Below is an excerpt from Hutch News published March 12, 2017:
Because of the high winds he was forced to fly into – the same winds whipping the fire out of control – he had to fly as close to the ground as possible, or the wind would blow the water off the fire, he said. “At times, I had fire above the aircraft,” Garrison said. “We were pushing the upper limits with the wind Monday night.”
(UPDATED at 2:05 p.m PDT July 31, 2019)
After we posted this article, JD Davis sent us the two photos below of CAL FIRE air tankers with registration number N477DF. Thanks JD!
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Matt. Typos or errors, report them HERE.