|Last updated 22 March 2019|
|US FIRE BOMBER OPERATORS: D to G|
A historical survey of US fire attack air tanker companies to the year 2000, compiled by Geoff Goodall
|DARO Inc, San Clemente, California|
|Operated at least two Grumman
TBM Avengers as fire tankers. The two listed were on contract to US
Forestry Service for the 1963 season.|
|Grumman TBM N9078Z #98 with "DARO Inc" on the side of the fuselage|
|D & D Aero Spraying, Rantoul, Kansas (Bill Dempsay)|
D & D Aero Spraying Inc, 2192 Vermont Road, Rantoul Kansas. Owned by William A. Dempsay & Clifford A. Dempsay.
Associated companies with the same address: D & DAerial Spraying, D & D Aero Inc, Central Air Service, Central Air Maintenance
A family business established by 1961 with Boeing Stearmans on agricultural spraying and dusting, later forest insecticide spraying.
Based on a private airstrip at Highland Farm, Rantoul in rural Kansas.
During the 1960s a variety of aircraft were tanked as sprayers. Bill Dempsay also flew fire tankers and later took over established fire tanker company Wenatchee Air Service at Wenatchee WA, which he continued in fire bombing under the name Central Air Service.
|D & D Aero is still operating today with Cessna 188s. |
By 1990s Bill Dempsay had semi-retired at Highland Farm, but continued a number of other aviation ventures, including acquiring and retoring aircraft to be traded to the USAF Museum. Examples are DC-3 N3753N, T-6 Texan N4434M which was dismantled on a trailer at the farm July 2006, and Noorduyn Norseman N1037Z.
In 2010 Blll Dempsay acquired two-seater antique Cessna 140 N2429V.
Other aircraft: (registered to D & D Aero, D & D Aero Spraying or W.A.Dempsay)
Boeing Stearman: N61673
PA-18 Super Cub: N4583A, N7499D
PA-25 Pawnee: N6097Z, N6749Z, N6810Z
PA-23 Apache N216D
Cessna 180 N1620C
Cesana 182 N8672T
|See also Central Air Service and Wenatchee Air Service/Wenairco|
|Dawson Aviation of Montana, Richey Montana
- refer Kinney Air Tankers, Richey MT
|Leo J. "Ace" Demers, Madras, Oregon|
widely-know aviation pioneer, Leo John Demers was born in in 1914,
leant to fly as a teenager and began his aviation career at his
home town Quincy IL with an aircraft maintenance business Ace Welding
& Machine Co. That earnt him his life long nickname "Ace".|
After WWII he set up Ace Flying Services, Salem Oregon as a flying school and aerial agricultural operation. By 1951 he had 65 aircraft, mostly war surplus Boeing Stearmans and employed 50 pilots.
Demers had moved into heavy tankers by 1951 with Douglas B-18s converted for spraying spruceworm in the forests on Mount Hood. Other State of Oregon contracts were flown with a variety of larger aircraft types modified as sprayers.
Ace Flying Service installed insecticide tanks in several PBY-5 Catalinas during the 1950s: a fuel cell was modified into the chemical tank and a 10hp motor pumped the liquid insecticide to spray nozzles mounted beneath the wings. These Catalinas sprayed 1.5 million acres of forest in 1958 alone. PBY-6A model Catalinas were later used.
In 1960 Leo Demers moved to Madras OR, taking over Madras Air Service Inc, the FBO for the airport. At Madras he continued agricultural and forest spraying. An agricultural spraying company PMP Aviation Co with Stearmans shared the same Madras residential street address as Leo Demers in 1963.
Demers had commenced some fire bombing operations with his tanker aircraft. In 1961 he introduced a B-17 tanker and later took over the operation of the USFS's experimental North American AJ-1 Savage fire tanker. Lighter aircraft were also used: the 1963 USFS fire tanker allocations included Ace Aerial Service N3N biplane N45228 (Tanker #E21) based at Ukiah CA.
In later years, Demers' experience in designing curved-down wingtips for his Stearmans to improve aircraft performance turned into a new world-wide market for Madras Demers Super Tips: FAA certified wingtip modification kits for many modern GA aircraft as well as agricultural Stearmans. They were advertised by Ace Demers at Madras Air Service.
Leo John Demers died on 18 May 1999
Boeing Stearman N1206N, N1224N, N1312N, N1322N, N55045, N56768, N68426
Curtiss P40E N1223N, N1228N
Grumman F8F-2 Bearcat N7825C
SNJ-5 Texan N5199V
Piper PA-22 N8817D; Cessna 182 N8833T
|Ace Demers' Boeing B-17G N3509G fire tanker #97 with spray bars, at Madras Oregon in 1960s.
The C-39/DC-2 sprayer N6097C can be seen behind. Photo by William T. Larkins
|AJ-1 Savage N68667 stored in 1968 at Los Angeles Fire Dept hangar at Los Angeles International Airport.
The bomb bay area has been significantly modified. Photo: Dave Welch collection
|Ace Demers advertisement from an April 1982 issue of Trade-A-Plane
|Desert Aviation Service, Mesa, Arizona *
Spraying operator. See Aircraft Specialities, Mesa AZ
|Grumman TBM-3 N9569Z at Mesa AZ in 1981 after its time as a wind machine at Buehner Window Co.
This former spares aircraft for CISCO Aircraft in California wears its original US Navy Seattle paintwork.
It was sold at the Globe Air auction and now flies as an immaculate warbird. Photo by Geoff Goodall
|Red Dodge Inc, Anchorage AK (Earl Dodge)
Earl "Red" Dodge was an experienced Alaskan charter operator, operating under the names Red Dodge Aviation Inc and Red Dodge Inc.
1950-1952 Earl Dodge was among Alaskan bush pilots employed by Transocean Air Lines to fly Noorduyn Norsemans and Grumman amphibans in support of a major TAL contract at Fairbanks and Point Barrow. By 1957 he had an Aero Comander 520 N4145B based at Anchorage
During the 1960s he operated North American B-25 Mitchell fire bombers on contract to Alaska State authorities, enabling them to remain in service after the USFS banned B-25s in 1962 because of wing structural failures after retardant drops.
The massive air tansport requirements in the late 1960s for the construction of the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline to the North Slope oilfields resulted in a partnership between Red Dodge Aviation and Bill Whitsell's Flying W Airways, Medford New Jersey. Large numbers of Flying W Airways Curtiss C-46s, Lockheed Constellations and even wo civil L-382 Hercules were operated in Alaska with "Red Dodge Aviation" titles. A temporary delay in the construction project left both companies financially exposed without flying income and in mid 1971 both filed for bankrupcy.
Red Dodge other aircraft (excluding the Flying W Airways heavy transports):
Douglas DC-3 N2768A
Grumman Widgeon N1423
Grumman Goose N2845D
Cessna T-50 Bobcats N30023, N53285, N68130, N73598 all purchased 1.3.64 ex Northern Consolidated Airways, Anchorage and resold
P-51D Mustang N5448V
T-28A Trojan N2814G, N2815G
Douglas A-26 Invader/On Mark Marketeer N600WB
|B-25 N9866C at Merrill Field, Anchorage April 1961 in winter storage. Note the belly retardant tank and the
Red Dodge nose art depicting an antique horse-drawn fire waggon. Photo by Barney Deatrick
|B-25 N7946C tanker #4 at Fairbanks AK during the 1960s, with Snoopy nose art.
|N7946C again in June 1971 at Anchorage AK without retardant tank, parked at the Red Dodge hangar office.
Snoopy has an added inscription "Happiness is a Thunderstorm" Geoff Goodall collection
B-25 N9857C also painted as tanker #4, at Fairbanks AK in September 1966. Photo by Neil Aird
|Earl Dodge's personal P-51D Mustang N5448V seen at Anchorage in May 1963. Photo by Barney Deatrick
|Donaire Inc, Phoenix, Arizona
Donaire Inc, 12448 N 29th Avenue, Phoenix AZ
Aerial application business founded in 1959 by experienced Arizona spraying pilot W. Donald Underwood.
An associated company was Donaire Sales Inc at the same address.
Operated from Deer Valley airfield near Phoenix, before moving to Buckeye airfield early 1960s.
1963 USFS fire bomber allocations: Donaire Inc B-25 N9080Z (no tanker #) A-26s N9996Z #C11, N9401Z #C33 based Scottsdale AZ
Donaire tanker operations wound down in the late 1960s and the remaining four A-26s were transferred to the ownership of Thomas W. Hammon, Phoenix AZ. It is not known whether they continued in tanker service or were stored, but ownership of two later reverted to Don Underwood.
Boeing Stearman N5345N
Vultee BT-13 N69748
T.A. "Skip" Underwood, Buckeye AZ had these warbirds during the period, but connection with Don Underwood not known:
P-51D Mustang N5479V (1963-1965)
Grumman F8F-2 Bearcat (1963)
Grumman TBM-3U N7858C (1964)
FG-1D Corsair N9964Z (1958-1960) towed from NAS Litchfield Park to Buckeye by road in 1958, stored until sold 1960
FG-1D Corsair N9153Z (1960-1964)
|Don Underwood's Grumman Wildcat N20HA at Phoenix c1958, painted black with orange lettering and trim.
Wingtip tanks carried 160 gallons of Avgas while underwing tanks carried the chemicals. Photo by Brian R. Baker
B-25 Mitchell N9079Z tanker #32 at Phoenix circa
Photo by Harry Gann
|Two atmospheric pictures showing the Donaire base at Buckeye AZ in the early 1960s.
In the top image a stripped A-26 and Beech 18 can be seen in the background
|N9401Z at the time of its sale to Canada in 1972. Tanker number has changed from C33 to 33.
Above three pictures via A26invader@outlook.com
N4819E was operational at Buckeye AZ in October
1978, without retardant tank.
Photo by John Chapman
|Dothan Aviation, Dothan Alabama *
Dothan Aviation Corporation Inc was founded by Hugh W. Wheelless
An associated company was Dothan Leasing and Rental Co Inc.
Began in early 1950s as a single-engined agricultural business. From 1959 specialised in wide-area aerial application operations using heavy aircraft, bidding for Federal and State pest eradication and forest spraying programs. Based at Dothan Municiple Airport before moving to its own grass field Wheeless Airport on the rural outskirts of Dothan.
The B-17s were used for fire ant baiting. Each B-17 carried 12,000 pounds of ground-up corncobs soaked in an insecticide Mirtex. It was dispensed from low altitude through an under-belly spreader, allowing 10,000 acres to be treated one load. Inertial navigation sysems were installed in the B-17s to ensure the swaths covered the required areas.
After Hugh Wheelless died in February 1970, the business was managed by his son Hugh W.Wheelless Jnr.
Dothan Aviation Chief Pilot was Virgil Fenn., who logged 3,000 hours on the B-17s alone.
One B-17 was lost, N4710C suffered an engine fire near Blakely GA on 5 August 1976. The crew reported No.2 engine was on fire and prepared for a forced landing straight ahead on a wide peanut field. While descending the No.2 engine burned off the aircraft and fell to the ground, taking the left undercarriage with it. The B-17 bellied in and the crew escaped but the aircraft was burnt out.
Dothan Aviation was heavily affected by rising Avgas prices and new US environmental rules during the 1970s. Aerial baiting and dusting contracts using certain insecticides including the low-level fire ant baiting across the southern states which had been flown by US tanker operators for decades, were now banned.
A new venture in 1973 to introduce ex-airline Martin 404s as sprayers was not successful. Four former Piedmont Airlines Martinliners were purchased from Charlotte Aircraft, which had them modified in 1970 by Clayton Curtiss as sprayers. They were delivered to Dothan but did not enter service. Three were ferried to Macon GA and stored there 1974-76 before being sold to spraying operator Marvin Janzen and flown to California. The fourth was broken up for parts.
Dothan Aviation ceased operations in 1978. Hugh Wheeless Junior was still president and was personally involved in the disposal of assets until at least 1983. The Wheelless family closed the airport in 1992 and the land became a housing development.
Boeing Stearman: N1414M, N1927M, N1928M, N3724C, N4592N, N46571, N4937N, N49650, N49659, N49733, N49739, N49982, N52088, N52128, N55361, N65827, N66308, N66488, N66489, N66490, N66492
Piper J3 Cub sprayers: N30628, N33549, N66564, N87947, N88257, N92043, N90743, N40743, N41470, N38452, N30628, N70770, N71020, N7146H, N26007, N26007, N2173M, N22749, N6692H, N46786, N6459H
Piper PA-18 Super Cub sprayers: N3389Z, N1956A, N1248A, N2572P, N7073D, N4479A
Grumman G.164 Ag Cat: N23RA, N492Y, N6657, N6659, N746Y, N748Y, N749Y, N7492, N7903, N960X, N971X, N981X, N9824, N10289, N6683Q, N6692K, N854JV, N617U, N618U, N713Y,
Piper PA-25 Pawnee: N7577Z, N82402
Piper PA-36 Pawnee Brave: N3713E
Piper PA-20 Pacer: N7146H
Champion 7AC: N4304E
Cessna 172 N3937S, N5691R; Cessna 182 N8733T; Cessna U206 N2127G
Cessna 310J N515HE
Beech 35 Bonanza N1976D
|Wheelless Airport, Dothan AL in 1973 showing Dothan Aviation B-17s, B-25s, PV-2s and Martin 404s.
Photo by Virgil Fenn
PV-2s at Wheeless Field, Dothan AL in March
Photo by Rod Adam
N4710C at Wheelless Field in March
Photo by Rod Adam
|B-25 N9443Z at Wheelless in April 1975. The B-25s had been retired for many years and their former USAF
markings could be seen through the faded paintwork
|The only reminder of Dothan Aviation at Wheelless Field by November 1981 were two Lockheed PV-2s
N3428G & N83L in poor condition on the far side of the airfield. Photo by Geoff Goodall
|Former Dothan Aviation Martin 404 N40445 still in Piedmont Airlines scheme, stored at Madera CA in 1977.
Six Martins were parked at Madera for conversion to sprayers or spreaders. Photo by Geoff Goodall
|Douglas County Aviation, Chandler Arizona
Douglas County Aviation Inc, 22000 South Price Road, Chandler AZ
Associate company of T & G Aviation Inc at the same address. T & G Aviation had been created in 1975 as a partnership between two experienced fire bombing pilots Sergio Tomassoni and William "Woody" Grantham. T & G Aviation standardised on Douglas DC-7s to carry out fire bombing and wide-area spraying for pests and ocean oil-slick dispersant.
Douglas County Aviation was headed by Woody Grantham. The company name referred to the Nevada county in which his former base Minden NV was located.
In 1981 when Aerial Applicators at Salt Lake City UT offered two DC-7s for sale, they were acquired for T & G Aviation but purchased in the name of Douglas County Aviation. One N90804 was a fire tanker and immediatey taken over by T & G Aviation in that role. The other was a spare aircraft which had never been tanked: it was ferried to Chandler AZ and leased out as a transport for several years, before returning to Chandler by 1986 to be stored with T & G's other DC-7 spare airframes.
For several years from 1983, T & G Aviation's annual USFS fire bombing contracts quoted Douglas County Aviation as the operator.
See T & G Aviation, Chandler AZ
|Douglas County Aviation DC-7B N90804 #28 was based at Klamath Falls Air Tanker base in Oregon during
September 1981 as part of the T&G Aviation contract. Photo by Geoff Goodall
|DC-7B N4889C at Chandler AZ in November 1981 after being ferried from Salt Lake City storage.
It retains its former Delta Airlines paint scheme and window curtains. Photo by Geoff Goodall
|Gene Ellan, Chester, California
Listed in 1963 USFS fire bomber allocations : Navy N3N biplane N45032 tanker #E63 based at Chester CA.
|Erickson Air Crane, Medford Oregon
Erickson Helicopters Inc was founded in 1971 at Medford OR by Jack Erickson, President of Erickson Lumber Company. The USFS became a major customer for heavy helicopter support and logging. Erickson Air Crane developed a specialised civil conversion of military-surplus Sikorsky S-64 Skycranes incorporating over 1,300 modifications and acquiring the Type Certficate. Among the new tasks for these large choppers was installing a large 2,650 gallon rectangular liquid tank for fire water bombing, with a long hose to replenish the tank from any nearby lake or other water source.
Erickson Air Crane built up a world-wide market for their fire bombing Skycranes. The Australian Government has contracted Erickson's S-64s for the past 20 summers, the aircraft often being ferried in from contracts in Greece and Malaysia.
Aero Spacelines Boeing 377MG Mini Guppy N422AU was purchased from Aero Union Corp in May 1989 to transport Erickson helicopters between jobs. Aero Union founder Dick Foy left AU to join Erickson to manage the Mini Guppy operation and by 1998 was CEO of Erickson Air Crane. As a parts source for the unique Mini Guppy, an ex USAF KC-97L 52-895/N1365D was purchased and ferried into Medford on 8 November 1989. It remains parked at Medford today, used as a function centre.
The Erickson Air Crane Inc organisation was sold in 2007 and renamed Erickson Inc with HQ at Portland, Oregon. Other helicopter companies were taken over, including Evergreen Helicopters in 2013. During 2016 Erickson Inc filed for Chapter 11 Bankrupcy.
Jack Erickson had been acquiring a private collection of ex US Navy aircraft which were originally housed at the company hangar at Medford Airport. He established the Tillamook Air Museum which opened in 2000 in the historic US Navy airship hangar at the former NAS Tillamook Oregon where his aircraft collection was put on display. The Mini Guppy N422AU made its last flight from Medford to Tillamook and parked outside with Tillamook Air Museum on one side, Erickson Air Crane on the other.
Jack Erickson established a permanent home for his collection when the purpose-built Erickson Aircraft Collection facility was opened on 22 August 2014 where the aircraft are displayed and flown.
In 2012 Jack Erickson purchased the assets of Butler Aircraft Co, Redmond OR and formed Erickson Aero Tanker at Madras OR, commencing fire bomber operations with the former Butler DC-7 tankers and quickly adding jet tankers.
|Erickson Air Crane Sikorsky S-64 fire bomber N179AC "Elvis" has been regularly deployed to Australia
|Evergreen Airlines, Marana, Arizona
Founded in 1970 by Delford "Del" M. Smith as Evergreen Aviation, McMinnville OR. Specialised in fixed and rotary wing operations for the US Department of Defense and CIA, of which little is recorded because of its necessarily clandestine nature. In 1974 Evergreen took over Intermountain Aviation Inc, Marana AZ, which had also conducted similar sensitive military support work from a its base on a former military airfield at Marana AZ. A turboprop and jet charter fleet up to Boeing 747s operated from Marana as Evergreen International Airlines. By 1988 the Evergreen group had 2,300 employees.
In November 1975 Evergreen purchased Johnson Flying Services/Johnson International Airlines, Missoula MT which had been a major US Forest Service contractor since the 1930s. Missoula operations contined for a short time under the name Evergreen Air of Montana, before consolidating at Marana AZ as Evergreen Helicopters Inc. The takeover of Johnson Flying Service included their USFS contracts, which added fire bombing to Evergreen's extensive range of services. The Lockheed Neptune was chosen as the best aircraft type the available and recent US Navy disposals aircraft were acquired and ferried to Marana for conversion to air tankers. In 2002 as part of a Next Generation Tanker proposal, Evergreen modified two Boeing 747s as Evergreen Supertankers.
Financial pressures resulted in Evergreen selling the Marana airfield facility in 2011 and in 2013 the Evergreen Helicopters division was sold to Erickson Inc. Finally in December 2013 Evergreen International Airlines ceased operations,listing $400M in debts.
Del Smith died at his Oregon home 7 November 2014, aged 84.
Del Smith, like his fellow Oregon aviation entrepreneur Jack Erickson, had acquired a collection of historic aircraft. His son Captain Michael King Smith ensured their continued display by establishing the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum at McMinnville OR.
Fire tanker operations were conducted by Evergreen Helicopters Inc, Marana AZ:
|Evergreen founder Del Smith
|Boeing B-17G N207EV tanker #22 at Marana AZ in November 1981. The windows are a reminder of its
covert ops days with previous owner Intermountain Aviation. Photo by Geoff Goodall
|Evergreen's Tanker #22 in action
|Neptunes N202EV #141 and N206EV #145 at Marana AZ in Novemebr 1981. Photo by Geoff Goodall
|The US Forest Service had this EP-2E Nepune tanked in 1970 by Rosenbalm Aviation in Oregon for evaluation.
After retirement by USFS in 1979 it was stored with USFS DC-3s at Marana, where it is seen in November 1981.
It was purchased by Evergreen in 1984, allocated N208EV, but stripped for parts. Photo by Geoff Goodall
|Ewing Aviation Co, San Ramon, California
In 1963 Ewing Aviation Co had a Sepulveda residential address in Los Angeles, changing by 1966 to rural San Ramon near San Francisco.
Tanker operations seem to have ceased by 1964, but two years later Ewing Aviation Co purchased a Boeing B-17 N6694C, a highly modified aircraft with cockpit moved aft 4 feet and the nose removed to allow aircraft engines to be air tested in the nose position. There was a partnership with Arnold Kolb's Black Hills Aviation at Spearfish SD to rebuild this hybrid into a B-17 fire tanker. By June 1967 it had been ferried to Spearfish with a rounded ferrying cap fitted on the nose, and left parked until the enture forward fuselage was grafted on N6694C. It changed ownership to Ewing-Kolb Aircraft Inc, Spearfish SD in August 1969 as the rebuild was being carried out, then in July 1970 to Arnold Kolb dba Black Hills Aviation in July 1970, entering service as Black Hills tanker #C12.
|Ewing Aviation B-17G N66573 #E85 at Porterville CA in September 1962. Photo by William T. Larkings
view of N66573, taken at Van Nuys CA on 23 June
Photo by Barney Deatrick
|Farmers Aero Ag, Fresno, California
Reported to have commenced fire tanker operations at Fresno in 1964 with a B-17 and Northrop Reporter.
The sole tanker Northrop F-15A Reporter was Aero Enterprises' N9768Z based at Fresno in 1964, which did have "Farmers Aero Ag" painted on its nose in small script for a short time. Appears to have been an association with Aero Enterprises/King Baker, Fresno CA
|Farmers Air Service, Klamath Falls, Oregon
Farmers Air Service Inc, Post Office Box 1068, Klamath Falls OR
Agricultural operation in business by 1949.
Three PBY-6A Catalinas were acquired from US Navy disposals in late 1950s and tanked, possibly initially for agricultural spraying.
By 1963 Farmers Air Service was operating the three Catalinas as fire tankers in conjunction with Liston Aircraft Inc, Klamath Falls with the same PO Box address. The 1963 USFS fire bomber allocations shows the three Catalinas with operator Liston Aircraft.
In early 1964 the Catalinas were transferred to Liston Aircraft.
Farmers Air Service other aircraft:
Vultee BT-13A N66920
Boeing Stearman: N53399, N58680, N56773, N1418M, N4769V
Piper PA-18 Super Cub; N4882A, N2996B, N3859Z, N4362A
|Fastway Air, Long Beach, California
Fastway Air Inc, 3365 Lakewood Blvd, Long Beach CA
Founded in 1959 by Edgar A. Neely. An associate company was Fast Way Air Service at the same address.
Appears to have commenced using a B-7 for cargo and transport work, but during 1960 Neely had both B-17s tanked as fire tankers
The 1963 USFS tanker allocations list shows Fastway Air's two B-17s based at Chino CA.
A Fastway B-17 Captain was Larry Hill, who flew a corporate Howard 500 outside fire seasons.
|Fastway Air Boeing B-17G N3702G at Long Beach CA circa 1961 soon after conversion to fire tanker #E61.
It is parked behind a civilianised Douglas C-74 Globemaster. Photo by Eddie Coates
tanker #E61 in a different paint scheme later in the 1960s. Photo by William T. Larkins
|N3703G was originally given this attactive paint job, which after modification to an air tanker, it retained for
the first few fire seasons with tanker #75 added to the tail. Photo: Long Beach 1959 by Harry S. Gann
|N3703G now #E78 in a more utilitarian scheme at Long Beach CA 18 January 1965. The fuselage windows
date from post-war USAF role as an ETB-17G used for electronics research Photo by Barney Deatrick
|Firefly Inc, Portland, Oregon
President and Chief Pilot in 1966 was Clarence Hanna. Based at Troutdale Airport near Portland.
Between 1963-1972 owned three Steward Davis Super Catalinas upgraded with Wright R-2600 engines and many other changes.
The first two N609FF & N610FF were purchased in Canada in 1963 and Firefly contracted Fairey Aviation Ltd at Victoria BC to modify both to Super Catalinas with retardant tank and fittings for fire bombing or spraying.
N609FF was first to arrive in Oregon, delivered from Victoria in November 1963 by Clarence Hanna. It was not used on fires by Firefly Inc but leased during the summer of 1964 to Cal-Nat Airways in California as a land-based fire tanker.
The second aircraft N610FF was having its Super Catalina modification program by Fairey Aviation at the same time, but Firefly instructed that its completion be delayed until N609FF was earning income. N610FF was used for spruce bud worm spraying in Alaska under the guise of test flights to evaluate the tanking system. However N610FF's tank and plumbing were soon removed because Firefly had been approached by Barringer Research offering long-term leases for both Super Catalinas for worldwide mineral magnetometer survey work. N610FF was handed over in 1964 and N609FF followed at the end of that year's fire bombing season.
The third aircraft N608FF was also leased for magnetometer mineral survey.
|Fire Flyers Inc, Reno, Nevada
|Firetankers Inc, Casper, Wyoming
Founded in early 1970s to take over the Wyoming-based division of Air Tankers Inc, Arizona. with at least four of their Grumman TBMs.
They had Desert Aviation Inc tanks configured for dual use for retardant or spraybars.
Airtankers Inc flew forest spraying contracts in Canada for the 1971 season, and by 1973 these four Grumman Avengers were parked at Simcoe, Ontario in the care of Norfolk Aerial Spraying Ltd. Norfolk wanted to operate them as sprayers from 1974 and an initial three years lease was negotiated with Airtankers Inc at Casper WY. To facilitate this, an associated Canadian company Firetankers Inc was registered in January 1974 with the same address as Norfolk Aerial Spraying Ltd and with the same office holders, with Canadian John Tarr president of both companies. The initial 3 years leases to Norfolk Aerial Spraying were later extended.
Nothing further heard of Firetankers Inc.
|Three yellow Firetankers Inc TBM-3 Avengers parked at Simcoe Ontario in 1973 for Norfolk Aerial Spraying.
Photo taken from Norfolk's Avenger CF-AYG by Paul Schaaremann via https://nbavengers.com
|The two at the end of the line at Simcoe were Airtankers Inc tankers #B19 and #B16 both fitted for spraying
Photo by Paul Schaaremann via https://nbavengers.com
|N10361 became C-GLDX and was still in Airtankers Inc paintwork in May 1979 at St Thomas Ontario.
Photo by Glenn Tanaka via https://nbavengers.com
|Flick Aviation, La Grande, Oregon
Flick Aviation Inc, 1306 North Street, La Grande OR
|P. F. Flickinger, Baynard, New Mexico
TBM-3E N7219C tanker #C50 at Mesa AZ in November
1969, Photo by
|Flight Enterprises, Prescott, Arizona
Flight Enterprises Inc, Municiple Airport, Prescott AZ
Air tanker business operated by Ralph Martin, Carson Shade, and Robert A. Gallagher, conducting fire bombing and aerial spraying.
Bob Gallagher is reported to have acquired at least two PB4Y-2 Privateers from the Honduras Air Force, where they had been used as transports.
A Flight Enterprises company principal from 1960 was Carson Shade. An associated business was Aero Mechanics Inc, Prescott AZ
The 1963 USFS fire tanker allocations lists Flight Enterprises Inc contracted for Privateer N3739G and Invaders N4820E & N8629E.
A clandestine venture by the principals of Aero Associates Inc, Tucson AZ to illegally deliver twenty A-26 Invaders in military configuration to the Portuguese Air Force for use against uprisings in their African colonies was stopped mid-delivery in 1966 by the US Government. This resulted in the remaining A-26s parked at Tucson in weathered USAF markings being offered for sale. Eight were acquired by Flight Enterprises Inc but only two flown to Prescott. The others were stripped for parts,and left parked at Tucson.
Flight Enterprises had ceased operations by 1973. The company's Prescott Airport facilities and approvals appear to have been taken over by Aero Flite Inc which moved base from Cody WY to Prescott.
Kaman HUK-1 N5144
N91317 at Prescott AZ in November 1969, bomb bay doors
Photo by Gordon Reid
|One of Flight Enterprises spare A-26s at Tucson was N91351, seen there in 1977 by then with a parts dealer
Photo by Geoff Goodall
|Flying Fireman Inc, Belleview Washington, later Spanaway, Washington
Formed as a US affiliate of the Canadian Catalina operation The Flying Fireman Ltd, Victoria BC
President of the Canadian and US companies was Richard L. "Bud" Rude
The US operation had commenced by 1975 with a DC-3 for a brief time and in 1986 a PBY-6A Super Catalina (engines changed to Wright R-2600 Cyclines) was transferred from the Canadian fleet.
The Catalina was operated in an arrangement with Awood Air, Spanaway from 1988 for some years.
A 2003 report on Flying Fireman Inc quoted that N85U, based at Deer Park Airport WA was contracted to the State of Washington Department of Natural Resources until the end of October that year. By mid August IT had flown over 100 hours on fire attack duties, dropping foam, not retardant, along the edges of the fire area. The Catalina carries a 50 gallon tank of foam concentrate which is mixed with water scooped from the nearest suitable lake into the aircraft's 1,500 gallon tank.
- DC-3 N21748 (2106) purchased .78, sold 11.6.79 to Caribbean Aero Services
- Fairchild F-27F CF-LWN (72) purchased 15.10.75 ferry permit 10.75 Edmonton ALTA to Moses Lake WA for repairs and resale
- Fairchild F-27F N222DG (31) purchased c82 ex Pacific Alaska Airways, sold 29.8.83 to Misty Air, Seattle WA
- DH.114 Riley Heron N414SA (14056) purchased c81, sold 25.4.83 to Misty Air, Seattle WA. Returned 27.10.83 ex Misty Air,
sold 7.8.85 to Free Flite Inc, Tulsa OK
|Flying Fireman Inc's PBY-6A Super Catalina N85U in action
|Frontier Flying Service, Fairbanks Alaska
|Don Goodman, Missoula, Montana
Donald A. Goodman, 2618 S Ave W, Missoula MT
Don Goodman learnt to fly at McCall ID pre-war and was an accomplished snow skier. During WWII he served with the US Army's10th Mountain Division. He moved to Missoula MT in 1950 where he flew transports and tankers for Johnson Flying Service. He is credited with many improvements to aircraft ski design.
He started his own fire tanker business at Missoula with a Grumman TBM Avenger, which he towed with wings folded through the streets of Missoula to his house for winter maintenance.
Goodman was contracted to USFS with TBM N7157C for the 1963 fire season. No tanker number was quoted
Don Goodman was killed on 16 July 1976 while piloting his A-26 Invader attacking the Battlement Creek fire in mountains near Grand Valley, Colorado. The fire blew up unexpectedly and the A-26 struck a hillside and was destroyed. He was 58 years of age and had gone back to flying his tanker after a run of problems with hired pilots. Three ground fire fighters also died and a fourth badly burnt. A memorial to the tragedy was later unveiled at nearby Parachute CO, featuring a propeller blade salvaged from the A-26 wreck.
An additional tanker Invader was delivered after Goodman's death so probably was not used prior to being resold in Alaska within a year.
|Don Goodman's Avenger N7157C #A22 at Missoula in November 1966, fitted with a replacement rudder.
Don Goodman's Douglas A-26 Invader N5426E parked on a cluttered ramp at Missoula MT.