Last week Air Tanker 60, a DC-7B (N838D), completed its last season as an aerial firefighting machine. On October 14 it departed from Medford, Oregon when the contract with the state of Oregon ended. Tim Crippen, who took these photos as it left, said it gave a wing wave to the tanker base as it passed by en route to Madras, Oregon.
The aircraft, serial number 45347, was manufactured in 1958. It is powered by four 18-cylinder Wright TC18EA radial engines, each weighing 3,700 pounds with a displacement of 3,350 cubic inches. A lot of people will miss the sound of those huge engines over a fire.
Tim Crippin shot these photos of two air tankers dropping on a fire that had just broken out one mile west of the air tanker base at the Rogue Valley International Airport (MFR) at Medford, Oregon. Here is what he wrote:
I took these pictures of Tankers 103 and 910 dropping retardant on a fast moving brush fire that was racing up the Bear Creek Greenway near I-5 between North Medford and Central Point, OR yesterday (9-9-2020). This fire threatened multiple businesses and structures including a FedEx building and Costco. The city of Central Point was on a Level 3 evacuation shortly after it started due to the rapid spread of the fire.
The fire was only about 1 mile west of the Medford Airport and the tankers and helicopters that were working on the South Obenchain Fire were diverted to this fire. They had 3 air tankers do drops and they were Tankers 60 (missed their drop), Tanker 103 and Tanker 910. Along with multiple helicopters.
I took these pictures near Million Air at the Medford Airport.
The South Obenchain Fire has burned about 12,000 acres 12 miles northeast of the airport.
Tim Crippin shot these photos of air tankers at Medford, Oregon July 19 and 20, 2020. The DC-7C (N838D) is operated by Erickson Aero Tanker and the B-737 (N137CG) by Coulson Aviation.
Here is what Tim told us about the photos:
Tanker 60 arrived in Medford on July 19th to begin the final year of fire fighting for the DC-7’s as they will be retired after this year. Caught their arrival in the picture with their landing gear. Been in Medford two days and has already been dispatched to two fires.
Yesterday Tanker 60 departed Medford for the Days Creek Fire burning about 14 miles Northeast of Canyonville which is two of the pictures. It worked along with three helicopters, two SEATS out of Redmond, and Tanker 161 out of Redmond.
Tanker 137 made their first ever visit to Medford to reload for the Milepost 21 Fire in Northern California. They made two load and returns out of Medford before going to Chico to reload for a fire near there before returning to Santa Maria for the night.
(Originally published at 2:32 p.m. PDT September 11, 2019)
Tim Crippin shot these photos of air tankers that were working on the Lime Fire and reloading at Medford, Oregon on September 7 and 9. They were all departing when the pictures were taken.
The Lime Fire, according to a mapping flight at 1:42 a.m. Wednesday morning, has burned 2,011 acres, but it was reported to be 1,911 acres at about 10 a.m. Wednesday by the Incident Management Team. The blaze is in Northern California 32 miles south of Medford, west of I-5, and just north of Highway 96. The fire has been fairly quiet for the last 24 hours. Fixed wing and satellite overflights Tuesday night did not detect a great deal of heat.
This is the first photo we have published of Tanker 167, an Aeroflite RJ85, and we have very few of Tankers 93 and 96.
Tim Crippin got these excellent shots of air tankers that were at Medford, Oregon July 27, 2019 supporting the Milepost 97 Fire south of Canyonville. Thanks Tim! The fire has burned 12,578 acres since it started on July 24, 2019.
Medford is 55 miles away from another base at Klamath Falls
A recent study commissioned by the U.S. Forest Service recommends keeping the air tanker base at Medford, Oregon open if other agencies can begin paying a portion of the $245,000 annual operating costs. Apparently closing the base was on the table, in part because it is only 55 miles away from another base at Klamath Falls, Oregon.
Local politicians in Oregon have been working to keep Medford open after word spread in March that the study was underway.
“Closure of either base at this time would be counterproductive to ensuring rapid response times to initial attack of fires since both bases are fully functional and in good condition,” Northstar Technology Corp. concluded in the study.
The study found that the savings from closing one base would be gobbled up by the $281,000 increased costs of flying retardant further distances from the one remaining base.
With two open, one base can keep operating if the other is socked in with smoke, the study said.
Forest Service officials said the trend of larger fires appears to be migrating northward, making reliance on the air tanker bases more vital for Western Oregon and Northern California.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Kelly. Typos or errors, report them HERE.