WYOMING - 1970s
Greybull, a town on the wide plains of central Wyoming, had a population of 1,760 citizens in 1979, one set of traffic lights
on the main street and one diner, serving highly recommended home-made fruit pie.
However the Greybull airfield had been home for pioneer fire bomber and heavy pest spraying operators since the 1950s.
By my first visit to Greybull in 1979 the resident company was Hawkins & Powers Aviation Inc, founded in 1969 when
tanker operator Avery Aviation was taken over by Dan Hawkins and Gene Powers. H&P specialised in fire attack contracts
for US Forestry Service and the Alaskan State, as well as extensive helicopter agricultural work.
In 1979 the H&P fire bomber fleet types were Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcars and Consolidated P4Y Privateers.
The Greybull photographs below were taken on 21 September 1979, when their operational fire tankers were away
on summer deployments - examples of these are featured at the end
|Hawkins & Powers Aviation
acquired the entire inventory of 20 retired RCAF C-119Gs and spare parts
held by a
Nebraska dealer in 1975. Eight were quickly tanked and the rest stored at Greybull, to be fitted out as fire bombers as needed
|The impressive nose of a stored RCAF C-119G,
complete with its last Canadian squadron circular emblem.
The Big Horn Mountains, of General Custer fame, form the backdrop for these Greybull pictures
|Former RCAF C-119Gs were
parked across the airfield. N15501 was RCAF 22130 and later became tanker
|N15505 was former RCAF
22101 and was never converted, being stripped for parts
|N961S ex RCAF 22120 was
being prepared for civilian tanker conversion
|N8092 was ex RCAF 22103.
The Canadian serials could be read through the faded paint on the airframes
|This USAF disposals Beech
C-45F N7391C in the Greybull junk yard had been owned by a succession of
Big Horn Flying Service in 1957, to Christler Aviation, Avery Aviation, Hawkins & Powers
|Beech C-45G N9306Z insecticide
sprayer had faded titles Sage Air Lines
H&P predecessor Avery Aviation had used this pre-war Douglas B-18 Bolo as fire tanker #B20, and also for spraying
|In the airport junk yard
were these Kaman H-43 Husky choppers with USAF and US Navy markings roughly
Identities were N2843J (ex USAF 58-1823), N2856J (ex USAF 58-1840) and N3910 (ex USN Bu146321)
|Stripped hulk of a P4Y-2 Privateer still
in US Navy midnight blue, which had been a parts source ever since Avery
ferried it to Greybull after US Navy disposal.
Believe it or not, in 1981 H&P began a two-year rebuild of this wreck, using airframe sections from a crashed Privateer tanker.
Restored in USN blue with authentic turrets, it was flown in January 1983 from Greybull to the US Navy Aviation Museum at
NAS Pensacola, Florida in exchange for retired USN Douglas C-118s, which were fitted as sprayers at Greybull
No Learjets for H&P! Lockheed L.18 Lodestar N880V with executive modifications was the H&P company transport.
Interestingly, this aircraft was built as a wartime RAF Hudson, became a Canadian airliner, then was one of a batch of Hudson
fuselages rebuilt by Hamilton Aircraft at Tucson, Arizona as L.18s for executive conversions with new wings
|H&P Lodestar N505R retired at Grebull.
Later, in 1983 it was restored, painted in USAAF wartime camouflage and
March AFB, California in an aircraft exchange deal with the USAF Museum
week earlier in September 1979, these Hawkins
& Powers Aviation fire bombers were seen deployed at Fairbanks, Alaska
P4Y-2 Privateer N8962C tanker #126 has had its nose turret replaced by a metalised fitting, reportedly incorporating
an F-86 Sabre cockpit canopy. The rear fuselage side cuppolas are replaced by windows
P4Y-2 N6884C has the same nose fairing but the side cuppolas have been removed and skinned over
Nose view, showing the H&P cartoon of Smokey The Bear riding on a Privateer. The crew steps are welded on to the fuselage side
Fairchild C-119G N3559, tanker #137, retains the RCAF lightning-flash fuselage paintwork. H&P fitted all their C-119s
with a Westinghouse jet on the roof to Steward-Davis Jetpak design, for extra heavy load takeoff power
pictures of Hawkins and Powers Aviation air tankers can be seen at FIRE
BOMBERS in this series