Three SEATs in formation

3 single engine air tankers

Fred Celest sent us these photos he took from Tanker 873. Thanks Fred!

The Single Engine Air Tankers were returning from the Lee Creek Fire in Montana on July 9.

The middle plane in the formation is T-803 with pilot Matt Lutz. The third plane is T-855 piloted by Matt Jurgensen. All three planes are with New Frontier Aviation out of Fort Benton Montana.

3 single engine air tankers
Photo from T-873 of T-803 on the foreground and T-855 in the background. Photo by Fred Celeste.

View of a SEAT from another SEAT

single engine air tanker
Tanker 855 flown by Dave Bright, as seen from Tanker 873, piloted by Fred Celest. Photo by Fred Celest.

Fred Celest sent us this photo he took with his cell phone while he was returning from the 16 Mile Fire in eastern Pennsylvania for a load and return. Both planes are operated by New Frontier Aviation out of Fort Benton, Montana. The single engine air tankers are Air Tractor 802s with Garret-14 engines.

We’ve written about T-873 a couple of times before.

Thanks Fred.

Tanker 873 makes the news in Pennsylvania

In this video WTAJ introduces a Single Engine Air Tanker, T-873, to the public. The aircraft is based near Black Moshannon State Park in Pennsylvania but will migrate west this summer.

Last year I photographed that ship at Chester, California and talked to the pilot who was flying it that day, Fred Celest.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Fred.

SEATs at Chester

Chester air attack base sign

Yesterday we stopped by the air tanker base at Chester, California where Terry Grecian, the manager, was kind enough to allow us out on the ramp to talk with one of the pilots.

Since it rained heavily a couple of days ago it has been less hectic at Chester. Earlier in the week they had Single Engine Air Tankers, Large Air Tankers, and several helicopters working out of the airport. On Wednesday there were just two SEATs and one Type 2 helicopter parked there.

Pilot Fred Celest and air tanker 873
Pilot Fred Celest and air tanker 873 at Chester, Calif. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

Fred Celest is the pilot for Tanker 873, an Air Tractor 802-F. He has previously flown crop dusters, private jets and P2V air tankers. He likes flying air tankers better than corporate jets, he said, because with air tankers he travels less. While talking with him we detected a bit of an accent, and it turns out that he is French and German, but is a United States citizen.

Mr. Celest felt it was important to point out that the 800-gallon aircraft has a 1,650 HP Garrett-14 engine. The air tanker is under contract through New Frontier Aviation out of Fort Benton, Montana. The company also operates 550-gallon M-18 Dromader SEATs.