Volunteers prepare Mann Gulch C-47 for a flight to Normandy, France

It will participate in a commemoration of the 75th anniversary of D-Day in World War II

C-47 D-Day
On D-Day 821 C-47s flew in a V of Vs formation to Normandy.

For months volunteers have been working on the C-47 that took smokejumpers to the Mann Gulch Fire in 1949. The blaze claimed the lives of 12 of them and also one former jumper who had been fighting the fire for 4 hours before the others arrived.

The Missoulian has an interesting article about what is being done to the plane to prepare it for a flight to Europe to participate in a commemoration of the 75th anniversary of D-Day in World War II. Below is an excerpt from the article:

…[Kim] Maynard, of Missoula, was one of the nation’s first female smokejumpers in 1982. She and husband Al Charters, a former Green Beret high-altitude jump specialist — the “sky god,” she called him — were among the first to sign on to a crew that will take to the skies over Normandy, France, with vintage chutes for the 75th anniversary of D-Day in World War II.

Like dozens of other volunteers, they’ve been showing up for months to work on the iconic Douglas C-47 Miss Montana that’ll take them there.

“When this came to the museum it was the Mann Gulch plane. Now it’s getting a whole new life,” Maynard said, referring to the aircraft’s history in its Johnson Flying Service days. Fifteen smokejumpers were dispatched on a fire north of Helena in 1949. All but three died that tragic August day.

The mission in the museum hangar is to make Miss Montana airworthy to join the D-Day Squadron and Daks Over Normandy and fly on to a commemoration of the Berlin Airlift. Then she’ll return to spend her next life traveling across the country, representing Montana and those who died in the service of the United States…

FYI: A C-47 is a variant of the Douglas DC-3. From Charlesmcccain.com:

According to the history section of Boeing (which acquired the legacy corporation which had merged with the Douglas Aircraft Company), only 455 DC-3 commercial aircraft were actually built for the airlines. After making requested modifications to the DC-3 design, a further 10,174 aircraft were produced for the armed forces as the C-47 military transports during World War II. The design specifications are slightly different.

A day in the Northwest dropping fire retardant from a P2V — pilot’s eye view

view from P2V dropping fire retardant
Screengrab from the video.

This video has been out for a couple of years but check it out if you enjoy a pilot’s eye view from a P2V flying around forest fires a few hundred feet off the ground. If you have a fast internet connection and a medium to large-sized screen, bump up the quality on the video to 4K. It was uploaded to YouTube by Bob Webb in 2016.

Be sure and check out the drop at 10:32.

The last of the working P2V air tankers retired September 30, 2017.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Evan.
Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Portable air tanker base at Canberra used for the first time

It is the first time a portable retardant base has been used at Canberra

Air tanker 166 RJ-85 reloading Canberra Airport
Air tanker 166, an RJ-85, reloading retardant at Canberra Airport. Photo provided by the airport.

A portable air tanker reloading base at Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory was used recently for the first time. Christening the new facility was Conair’s Tanker 166, an RJ85 from Canada that is spending the Northern Hemisphere winter down under. T-166’s main base this summer is Richmond (near Sydney).

The aircraft was working on a wildfire near Michelago, New South Wales (map).

A total of six large air tankers from North America have been working in Australia during their 2018-2019 summer.  Three other tankers with their primary base at Richmond include a 737 (T-137), a C-130Q (T-134), and another RJ85 (T-165). And based at Avalon airport in Melbourne, a C-130Q (T-131), and an RJ85 (T-163).

Air tanker 166 RJ-85 reloading Canberra Airport
Air tanker 166, an RJ-85, reloading retardant at Canberra Airport. Photo provided by the airport.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Isaac.
Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Kamov helicopter shipped to Chile on IL-76

Photographer Heath Moffatt grabbed some photos of a Kamov Ka-32A11BC being loaded onto a Volga-Dnepr Ilyushin IL-76TD in Victoria, B.C. The IL-76 used internal cranes to lift and load the helicopter which was then flown to Chile. On Christmas Eve Billings Flying Service unloaded one of their CH-47D Chinooks off a ship in Chile. Both helicopters will be working on firefighting contracts.

The IL-76 can be loaded with a slip-in retardant or water delivery system that can hold over 11,000 gallons. In 2017 one of them was used to fight fires in Chile along with the 747 and a BAe-146.

IL-76 747
An IL-76 and 747 at Santiago Chile, January 30, 2017.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Dave.
Typos or errors, report them HERE.

DC-3 air tanker used for dust control in Thailand

The turbine-powered aircraft was operated by the Thai Air Force

BT-67 DC-3 Thailand
A BT-67, modified from a DC-3, is used to improve the air quality in Thailand. Thai PBS photo.

Thai PBS tweeted this photo of a DC-3 dropping water in an effort to improve the air quality in Thailand on January 15, 2019.

The air tanker made several drops of 790 gallons each near Don Mueang Air Force Base and in the Chatuchak area.

Thai PBS described the mission. This excerpt has been very crudely translated by Google Translate:

The Air Force brought the BT-67 aircraft from the 46th Airborne Division, Phitsanulok Province to carry 3,000 liters of water in the tank under the machine. Flying water droplets at a height of about 1,500 feet around the Don Mueang Air Force Base as the first area In order to alleviate PM 2.5 dust problems that are beyond the standard value until they start affecting health.

Type 2 transport aircraft, or BT-67 aircraft belonging to the 46th Air Force Division, Phitsanulok, are aircraft that the Air Force uses to support the missions of the Royal Rain Flying to control wildfire. And water spraying, water spray, alleviating haze / dust problems. In which the flight of the water lapses, each flight will carry water to scatter about 3,000 liters per trip. Scattering water from the height above the target area Which will cause water droplets to spread over a wide area And capture with dust to alleviate the severity of the problem.

It is not clear from the roughly translated article if the water drops are expected to physically remove particulates as the water drifts downward, or if it will wet the ground to reduce the amount of dust that becomes airborne.

The aircraft has had its radial engines replaced with turbine engines. The conversion by Basler results in the aircraft’s model name changing from DC-3 to BT-67.

According to Wikipedia:

The conversion includes fitting the airframe with new Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67R turboprop engines, lengthening the fuselage, strengthening the airframe, upgrading the avionics, and making modifications to the wings’ leading edges and wing tips.

Due to the slightly higher fuel consumption of the turbine engines of the BT-67, compared to the original piston designs fitted to the standard DC-3, range on the standard fuel tank, with 45 minute reserve, is reduced from 1,160 to 950 nautical miles (2,150 to 1,760 km). Basler provides a long-range fuel tank which increases the aircraft range to 2,140 nmi (3,960 km).

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Isaac.
Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Victoria establishes new air tanker base at East Sale

An RJ85 will be based there January 11 and 12

air tanker rj85 australia victoria
On Friday January 11 an RJ85 known as Boomer south of the Equator worked to strengthen containment lines during hot and windy conditions – helping to protect a farm adjoining the bushfire in Holey Plains State Park, south of Rosedale. Screengrab from the video below.

Victoria’s ability to reload Large Air Tankers (LAT) has been bolstered by establishing the capability for the first time at the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) military air base located in Sale, Victoria, Australia. (map)

An RJ85 nicknamed Boomer, is available in East Sale today (January 11) and Saturday, and could be deployed based on conditions and other requirements across the state.

To ensure Victoria has protection, a New South Wales-based LAT will move to Victoria during this period. This has been made possible with strong cross-border partnerships with NSW.

Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said East Gippsland had experienced very dry conditions following two record dry winters and in the last 24 hours experienced considerable lightning activity.

“Ground and air crews continue to work on the Rosedale fire, and while it is contained the underlying dryness and forecasted conditions, a LAT positioned at Sale would support the firefighting effort in the event of a flare up,” he said.

“If required this LAT will continue the work the other LATs and night helicopter firebombing operations have had on the Rosedale fire since Friday in support of ground crews.”

LATs can only operate at a limited number of Victorian airbases because of their size. They can operate from Avalon, Mildura and now Sale. Albury, in NSW can also accommodate the LATs if required.

Having the LAT based at East Sale will mean reducing the turnaround time for refueling and loading of retardant or water.

“The updated seasonal outlook confirmed the forecast of an above normal fire risk in East Gippsland. Given this, arrangements were put in place to be able to use the RAAF base if required,” he said.

“This was made possible due to the strong and ongoing partnership between the Australian Defense Force and Emergency Management Australia.”

Victoria’s Large Air Tankers are state strategic assets that are based at Avalon Airport but can be deployed across Victoria according to need and the identified risk.

They form part of Victoria’s core aerial fleet of 49 aircraft available for the summer season which includes a mix of water bombing aircraft, air supervision, and aerial intelligence gathering aircraft.

Victoria also has a surge capacity of up to 100 aircraft that can supplement the core fleet when needed.

Viking teases development of CL-515

A video released last week touts a new model of an amphibious scooping air tanker

The proposed design for the new CL-515, according to the Viking promo video released December 20, 2018

On December 20, Viking Air released a video that describes in detail a new model of the scooping air tanker that could succeed the CL-415. The new CL-515, if it is ever built, is supposed to have a 15 percent larger tank holding up to 1,850 gallons (7,000 liters), and the ability to be outfitted with agriculture spraying equipment or carry up to 12 passengers or three stretchers. Other optional equipment could include a larger cargo door, video cameras, and search radar.

We asked a spokesperson for Viking if the description of the CL-515 in the video meant it would be produced, and if so when, we were told, “No official announcement made yet. The 515 video is a promotional tool for the time being to generate interest in the potential production aircraft.” The spokesperson declined to give us a date.

In March, 2018 at the Aerial Firefighting Conference at McClellan Sacramento Airport, Viking’s director of Special Projects, Sales, and Marketing, Christian Bergeron, told us the company was currently gathering information from potential customers about what they would like to see on a new version of the CL-415. Mr. Bergeron said they expected to decide by the third quarter of 2018 if they would proceed with the project, which would be named CL-515.

Executive vice-president of sales and marketing for Viking, Robert Mauracher, told Flight Global in October, “We expect board approval for go or no-go [about building the CL-515] by the end of the first quarter next year”.

Bombardier stopped production of the CL-415 in 2015. The next year Viking acquired the worldwide amphibious aircraft program from Bombardier including the Type Certificates (manufacturing rights) for all variants of Bombardier’s amphibious aircraft, and assumed responsibility for product support, parts and service for the fleet of 170 water bombers in service with 21 operators in 11 countries around the world.

In a similar transaction in 2006 Viking acquired from de Havilland Canada the rights for the Twin Otter and re-launched production in 2007 after a 22 year hiatus, delivering over 140 aircraft in 30 countries. Viking also produces the DHC-7 Dash 7, the DHC-3 Otter, DHC-5 Buffalo, and the DHC-2 Beaver.

And, in November, 2018 Longview Aviation Capital Corp., parent company to Viking, agreed to acquire, through an affiliate, the entire Dash 8 program including the 100, 200 and 300 series and the in-production Q400 program from Bombardier Inc. Also included as part of the transaction are rights to the de Havilland name and trademark. Once completed, Longview will become North America’s largest commercial turbo-prop aircraft manufacturer.

Earlier in 2018 the Conair Group purchased six Q400 MR aircraft from Bombardier which it will convert into multirole air tankers for France’s Securite Civile (Department of Civil Defence and Emergency Preparedness). 

Longview Aviation Asset Management (LAAM) of Calgary, Alberta, in cooperation with Viking launched in May, 2018 the Viking CL-415EAF (“Enhanced Aerial Firefighter”) Conversion Program to include upgrades of many components. LAAM intended to hire up to 150 technical and support staff members at its Calgary facilities, where eleven specially selected CL-215 aerial firefighting aircraft owned by LAAM would undergo the modification process utilizing Viking-supplied conversion kits.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Isaac. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Buffalo Airways hopes to have their P-3 ready for 2019 fire season

The company purchased Tanker 22 in 2014

Buffalo P3 Joe McBryan
Ronald Guy (left) of United Aeronautical congratulates Joe McBryan of Buffalo Airways for his purchase of a P-3 formerly owned by Aero Union. Photo by Bill Gabbert, March 19, 2014 at McClellan Air Force Base.

Buffalo airways expects to have the P-3 air tanker they purchased in 2014 ready to fight fire during the 2019 wildfire season. Mikey McBryan wrote in an Instagram post that the work is being performed by Airstrike Air Tankers at McClellan airport in Sacramento.

The aircraft, Tanker 22, is still using the same “N” number as when it was flown by Aero Union, N922AU. The company operates at least one Lockheed L-188 in Canada, Tanker 416, which is very similar to the P-3. In 2016 they received a five-year contract to operate eight new Air Tractor 802F FireBoss single engine air tankers owned by Northwest Territories.

Buffalo Airways has approximately eight other air tankers as well as 11 DC-3’s. In 2016 the company won a contract to operate the eight recently purchased Air Tractor 802F FireBoss single engine air tankers for Northwest Territories Environment and Natural Resources. Mikey McBryan and his father Joe starred in the Ice Pilots reality TV show that ran for at least six seasons on the History channel.