S-2 air tanker used on wildfire in Kansas

It is believed to be the first time a large air tanker has been deployed on a non-federal wildfire in Kansas

Kansas S-2 air tanker
File photo of Bill Garrison’s S-2 air tanker. Screenshot from KWCH video July, 2019.

In what is believed to be the first time a large air tanker has been deployed on a non-federal wildfire in Kansas, a privately owned S-2 was used on a fire in Cheyenne County in the northwest corner of the state November 9.

The Kansas Forest Service said Air Tanker 95 and two aerial ag applicator aircraft helped firefighters on the ground by dropping water. The assistance to local agencies was made possible by state funding for fire suppression approved in the last legislative session.

Cheyenne County was under a Red Flag Warning Saturday for strong winds and low humidity.

KSN reports that the aircraft is stationed at Hutchinson Airport northwest of Wichita, becoming the state’s first permanent base for an air tanker.

Bill Garrison, owner of Ag Air Service out of Nikerson, Kansas, acquired the aircraft formerly operated by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection from an aviation museum. CAL FIRE operated it as Tanker 81 and 93 with registration number N477DF. Later in its career the tanker number changed to 95, still used today, and was owned by Yesterday’s Flyers and then 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 aerial ag applicator 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.

S-2 air tanker N477DF
CAL FIRE Air Tanker N477DF at Hemet, CA October 23, 2003. JD Davis Photos.

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