Above: Tanker 475 reloading at Hot Springs, SD, during the Sheps Canyon Fire, September 4, 2017.
(Originally published at 10:24 p.m. MDT, September 4, 2017)
A New Frontiers Aviation Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT) assisted firefighters on the Sheps Canyon Fire near Lake Angostura in the Black Hills of South Dakota Monday. According to the FAA registry Air Tanker 475 is a WSK-PZL MEILEC. The aircraft came out of the Valentine, Nebraska SEAT base since the SEAT stationed at Hot Springs five miles northeast of the fire was not staffed today. T-475 reloaded with retardant at Hot Springs, but had to go to Rapid City to refuel since the Hot Springs Airport does not have Jet-A fuel.
The original dispatch for the Sheps Canyon fire was a camper vehicle fire. It spread into the vegetation burning about 13 acres before firefighters were able to knock it down.
A visit by Canadian aircraft to the Pierre, South Dakota airport on Wednesday helped illustrate some of the features of the Great Plains Interstate Fire Compact. A new member of the organization, Saskatchewan, sent two of their firefighting aircraft to Pierre to be introduced to a crowd that included Governor Dennis Daugaard, members of South Dakota’s Wildland Fire Suppression Division, and representatives of the media.
Click on one of the photos below (provided by the South Dakota WFSD) to start a slide show of large images.
The Canadian province sent an air tanker, a CV-580A, and one of their Turbo Commander Bird Dogs, or lead planes as they are called in the United States. Saskatchewan has two CV-580As, which can hold up to 2,100 gallons of retardant, and two CL-215Ts, which can scoop 1,400 gallons of water by skimming over the surface of a lake.
One of the purposes of the Compact is to facilitate the sharing of ground and air fire resources among the member states, which include Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, and now Saskatchewan. The Compact agreement allows the aircraft to be used in the six states and province more easily than if the compact did not exist.
A fun fact. The CV-580A in the photos, Tanker 475, was part of the U.S. government’s fleet four decades ago, when it was known as a C-131H and for a day was designated as Air Force One.
…The hardy Convair has had a storied career of transport missions. Its 25,046 airframe hours include service with the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Department of State, and Marshals Service; the Peruvian National Police; and a Michigan cargo company. Among transports, it enjoys an exalted distinction: For at least a day, it was the presidential aircraft. On October 26, 1972, President Richard Nixon used it for a weekend campaign trip to Huntington, West Virginia, and Ashland, Kentucky. “I thought this airstrip was a little short,” Nixon told the crowd at the Huntington airport. “That is why we had to bring the Convair in.”
Its most frequent VIP customer, however, was Vice President Gerald Ford, who flew on it dozens of times from the fall of 1973 until he succeeded Nixon on August 9, 1974…