The Elephant Butte Fire burned about 50 acres on steep terrain southwest of Denver two miles northwest of Evergreen Lake, Colorado. It was reported around 3 p.m. on Monday July 13 and the spread was stopped by good work from firefighters in the air and on the ground, with a big assist from rain at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday July 14.
Skippyscage.com got some great photos of the aircraft battling the blaze, both while they were over the fire and at the air tanker base at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (JEFFCO) northwest of Denver. With his permission, we will showing you some of his shots in five installments.
Today we are featuring Tanker 22, a P3 Orion manufactured in 1964 formerly operated by Aero Union that was recently brought back to life by Airstrike Firefighters and Buffalo Airways. It is currently on a 75-day exclusive use (EU) contract with the state of Colorado. The aircraft is registered to Buffalo.
Click here to see the series of five installments of photos of aircraft on the Elephant Butte Fire. They will be posted daily from July 17 through July 21, 2020.
Below are some archived photos of Tanker 22.
United Aeronautical acquired seven of Aero Union’s P3 tankers after the company declared bankruptcy. Buffalo Airways purchased T-22 from UA in 2014, and now it is operated by Airstrike Firefighters under an arrangement with Buffalo Airways. Another former Aero Union P3, T-23, has also been restored and is being operated by Airstrike.
The photoshopped photo of T-22 below won our contest in 2013 to create an image of an air tanker that had a sponsor. The contest was a spurred by a suggestion by Colorado State Senator Steve King, who said: “Can you imagine what the advertising value would be if you had a Colorado Rockies sign on the tail of a slurry bomber?”