S-2 air tanker used on wildfire in Kansas

It is believed to be the first time a large air tanker has been deployed on a non-federal wildfire in Kansas

Kansas S-2 air tanker
File photo of Bill Garrison’s S-2 air tanker. Screenshot from KWCH video July, 2019.

In what is believed to be the first time a large air tanker has been deployed on a non-federal wildfire in Kansas, a privately owned S-2 was used on a fire in Cheyenne County in the northwest corner of the state November 9.

The Kansas Forest Service said Air Tanker 95 and two aerial ag applicator aircraft helped firefighters on the ground by dropping water. The assistance to local agencies was made possible by state funding for fire suppression approved in the last legislative session.

Cheyenne County was under a Red Flag Warning Saturday for strong winds and low humidity.

KSN reports that the aircraft is stationed at Hutchinson Airport northwest of Wichita, becoming the state’s first permanent base for an air tanker.

Bill Garrison, owner of Ag Air Service out of Nikerson, Kansas, acquired the aircraft formerly operated by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection from an aviation museum. CAL FIRE operated it as Tanker 81 and 93 with registration number N477DF. Later in its career the tanker number changed to 95, still used today, and was owned by Yesterday’s Flyers and then Cactus Air Force, both in Nevada. The current registration number is N508JR under the ownership of Mr. Garrison with a certificate issue date of February 14, 2019.

The aircraft can carry up to 800 gallons and still has the radial engines unlike the S-2s operated by CAL FIRE today that have been converted to turbine engines.

Mr. Garrison said he used one of the company’s aerial ag applicator planes in 2017 to drop 20,000 gallons of water on the Highlands Fire in Reno County, chipping in to help when the Kansas National Guard Blackhawk helicopter pilots ran out of duty time.

S-2 air tanker N477DF
CAL FIRE Air Tanker N477DF at Hemet, CA October 23, 2003. JD Davis Photos.

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

Photos of air tankers at Medford supporting the Milepost 97 Fire

Tanker 62 at Medford, Oregon
Tanker 62 at Medford, Oregon July 27, 2019. Photo by Tim Crippin.

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.

Tanker 95 at Medford, Oregon
Tanker 95 at Medford, Oregon July 27, 2019. Photo by Tim Crippin.
Tanker 88 at Medford, Oregon
Tanker 88 at Medford, Oregon July 27, 2019. Photo by Tim Crippin.
Tanker 134 at Medford, Oregon
Tanker 134 at Medford, Oregon July 27, 2019. Photo by Tim Crippin.

An S-2 air tanker is ready to fight fire in Kansas

Kansas S-2 air tanker
Bill Garrison’s S-2 air tanker. Screenshot from the KWCH video below.

The owner of a crop dusting service in Kansas has acquired an S-2 air tanker formerly operated by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE).

Bill Garrison, owner of Ag Air Service out of Nikerson, Kansas, said that after he used his crop dusters in 2017 to aid firefighters by dropping water on wildfires, he decided he wanted a bigger airplane.


KWCH reported that the Kansas Forest Service has a call when needed agreement to use the plane on fires for $4,000 an hour.

The aircraft was constructed as an S-2A, according to aerialvisuals.ca, with the BuNo 136508. CAL FIRE operated it as Tanker 81 and 93 with registration number N477DF. At some point the tanker number changed to 95, the number still used today, and was owned by Yesterday’s Flyers and later, Cactus Air Force, both in Nevada. The current registration number is N508JR under the ownership of Mr. Garrison, with a certificate issue date of February 14, 2019.

The aircraft can carry up to 800 gallons and still has the radial engines, unlike the S-2s operated by CAL FIRE today that have been converted to turbine engines.

Mr. Garrison said he used one of the company’s planes in 2017 to drop 20,000 gallons of water on the Highlands Fire in Reno County, chipping in to help when the Kansas National Guard Blackhawk helicopter pilots ran out of duty time. Below is an excerpt from Hutch News published March 12, 2017:

Because of the high winds he was forced to fly into – the same winds whipping the fire out of control – he had to fly as close to the ground as possible, or the wind would blow the water off the fire, he said. “At times, I had fire above the aircraft,” Garrison said. “We were pushing the upper limits with the wind Monday night.”

Click here to see the CAL FIRE air tanker that today has the T-95 designator.


(UPDATED at 2:05 p.m PDT July 31, 2019)

After we posted this article, JD Davis sent us the two photos below of CAL FIRE air tankers with registration number N477DF. Thanks JD!

S-2 air tanker N477DF
CAL Fire Air Tanker N477DF at Hemet, CA June 10, 1979. JD Davis Photos.
S-2 air tanker N477DF
CAL Fire Air Tanker N477DF at Hemet, CA October 23, 2003. JD Davis Photos.

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

Air tankers at Medford during Lumgrey Fire

Air Tanker 96 Medford, Oregon June 17, 2019
Air Tanker 96 at Medford, Oregon June 17, 2019. Tim Crippin.

Tim Crippin sent us these photos he took at Medford, Oregon June 17, 2019 of air tankers working the Lumgrey Fire on the Klamath National Forest in Northern California.

Thanks Tim!

Air Tanker 160 Medford, Oregon June 17, 2019
Air Tanker 160 at Medford, Oregon June 17, 2019. Tim Crippin.
Air Tanker 94 Medford, Oregon June 17, 2019
Air Tanker 94 at Medford, Oregon June 17, 2019. Tim Crippin.
Air Tanker 95 94 Medford, Oregon June 17, 2019
Air Tankers 94 and 95 at Medford, Oregon June 17, 2019. Tim Crippin.
Air Tanker 163 Medford, Oregon June 17, 2019
Air Tanker 163 at Medford, Oregon June 17, 2019. Tim Crippin.

Air tankers at Medford fighting the Klamathon Fire

air tanker Medford Klamthon Fire

Above: T-93 departs Medford, Oregon for the Klamathon Fire in California. All photos by Tim Crippin July 5, 2018.

Tim Crippin took these photos July 5 of eight air tankers that were fighting the Klamathon Fire and reloading at Medford, Oregon.

As of Friday morning the fire just across the state line in California had burned approximately 8,000 acres and multiple structures. A civilian who has not yet been identified died in the fire.

air tanker Medford Klamthon Fire
T-914
air tanker Medford Klamthon Fire
T-164

Continue reading “Air tankers at Medford fighting the Klamathon Fire”

Photos of CAL FIRE S-2’s at Medford

Tanker 95 Medford

Above: Tanker 95 departs from Medford. Photo by Tim Crippin.

Tim Crippin sent us these photos of CAL FIRE air tankers 94 and 95 loading and departing out of Medford, Oregon on June 18 while the tankers were working the Bogus Fire near Copco Lake in Northern California.

Thanks Tim!

Tanker 94 Medford
Tanker 95 reloads at Medford. Photo by Tim Crippin.

Aircraft at Redding, August 7, 2014

We spent some time yesterday at the Redding Air Attack Base in California and shot photos of the aircraft and will be posting them over the next few days. Here are a few to get started. Click on the photos to see slightly larger versions.

T-94 and T-95 at RDD 8-7-2014
T-94 and T-95 at RDD 8-7-2014
AA-240 and AA 505 and Coulson rig at RDD 8-7-2014
AA-240 and AA-505 (OV-10s) and the Coulson support rig at RDD 8-7-2014
AA120 landing at RDD 8-7-2014
AA-120, an OV-10, landing at RDD 8-7-2014
Chinook at RDD
California National Guard Chinook at RDD
Cobras and a Sherpa at RDD
Two Cobras and a Sherpa at RDD , 8-7-2014

All of the photos were taken by Bill Gabbert and are protected by copyright.