Last updated 1.2.18

US FIRE BOMBER OPERATORS - I to K

A historical survey of US fire attack air tanker companies to the year 2000, compiled by Geoff Goodall


Idaho Air Tankers Inc, Boise Idaho
Idaho Air Tankers Inc, 818 W State Street, Boise Idaho
Founded by Walter E. White and Thomas A.White

Grumman TBM-3
Avenger
N7030C
Bu53454
by 1963-1965
  D13
  
registered by 63 Idaho Air Tankers
sold c65 to Reeder Flying Service, Twin Falls ID
Douglas A-26
Invader
N9404Z
41-39190
9.61-10.63

purchased 27.9.61 exVon Carsted, Long Beach CA
sold 19.10.63 to Moseley Aviation AZ
Douglas A-26
N9402Z
43-22653
by 1963-2.66

sold 19.2.66 to Reeder Flying Svce, Twin Falls ID



Idaho Aircraft Company, Boise Idaho
Idaho Aircraft Co Inc, P.O.Box 4512 Boise ID
This business was established by Milt Smilanich and Dennis G. Smilanich and incorporated on 12 February 1959.
By 1961 it was a fire bombing contractor to US Forest Service and Burea of Land Management, when tanker pilots included Milt Smilanich, Judd Stevens, Jim Saad, Milt Sparks.
Withdrew from air tanker operations in 1971 but the company continued as an general aviation business at Boise Airport into the 1990s.
Other aircraft:
Beech 35 N738D
Cessna 140 N81066
Cessna 150 N8324G

Grumman TBM-3
Avenger
N7026C
Bu69294
by 1963-6.70
  D4
  
purchased ex Parsons Air Park CA as a tanker
destroyed 19.6.70 pilot baled out due engine fire
near Boise ID
Grumman TBM-1
N5635N
-
by 1963-8.68
  D3
purchased ex Parsons Air Park CA as a tanker
crashed 9.8.68 Graham, Idaho
Grumman TBF-1 N7922A
Bu48032
by 1963-1964

purchased ex Parsons Air Park CA as a tanker
sold .64 to Johnson Flying Service Missoula
Grumman TBM-3 N9590C
Bu53784
by 1963-1971
  D1
sold c71 to Aero Union, Chico CA
Grumman TBM-3 N9584Z
Bu85882
1965-1975

purchased c65 ex Loening Air, Boise ID for parts, no civil conversion, retained turret, bomb bay doors,
sold .75 to Ralph Ponte CA for rest. as a warbird
Grumman TBM-3
N6826C
Bu86244
8.68-1971

purchased 16.8.68 ex John Lippott, Salmon ID as a tanker
sold c71 to Aero Union, Chico CA
North American
TB-25N Mitchell
N9856C
43-28204
3.61-9.68

purchased 3.61 ex Blue Mountain Air Service,
La Grande, Oregon as a tanker,
sold 9.68 to Filmways for movie Tora Tora Tora
TB-25N Mitchell N2887G
44-86716
3.61-6.65

purchased 3.61 ex Blue Mountain Air Service,
La Grande, Oregon as a tanker,
sold 6.65 to Loening Air, Boise ID
TB-25J Mitchell
N2888G
44-86872
3.61-1986

purchased 3.61 ex Blue Mountain Air Service,
La Grande, Oregon; stripped for parts
stripped hulk at Boise 68-83
acquired .86 by Aero Nostalgia, Stockton CA for restoration for USAF Museum, Robins AFB GA
TB-25N Mitchell
N9116Z
44-29287
by 1963

registered to Idaho Aircraft Co by 1963,
sold .63 to Arthur Siegell, Miami FL

2887G



1961 magazine picture showing Idaho Aircraft Co B-25 and TBM at work dropping fire retardant in Idaho.
With thanks to nbavengers.com




Grumman TBM-3 N9590C tanker #D1 at Boise in June 1967.       Photo: J.A.Morrow via nbavengers.com


International Air Applicators, Riverside, California
International Air Applicators Inc, Riverside CA
In 1958 this operator was the first to tank a US Navy disposals Consolidated P4Y-2 Privateer for chemical spraying and fire retardant dropping. It was the largest aircraft converted for aarial application at the time and attracted a lot of interest.
Unfortunately the first Privateer tanker was destroyed while spraying near Flagstaff AZ in June 1959, but a replacement (with the same registration) was quickly put into service.

Consolidated P4Y-2 Privateer
N6884C (1
Bu66264
12.58-6.59
 
Registered 1.12.58
crashed 20.6.59 Prescott AZ while spraying
Consolidated P4Y-2 Privateer N6884C (2
Bu59701
7.59-10.65
   84
Purchased 7.59 ex Alllied Metal Industries,
retardant tanks installed 8.59 as tanker #84
sold 10.65 to Rosenbalm Aviation, Medford OR





The first Privateer N6884C at Riverside CA during 1959 with spray gear along the wing trailing edge




Wreck of the first N6884C at Prescott AZ in June 1959, spray bar visible.         Bob Livingstone collection



International Air Response, Chandler AZ
International Air Response Inc, Chandler Memeorial Airfield, 22000 South Price Road, Chandler AZ,
later Coolidge Municiple Airport AZ, later Mesa-Gateway AZ

William "Woody" Grantham, a long-time partner with Sergio Tomasoni in the large tanker operation T&G Inc at Chandler AZ, established IAR as an associate company during the 1980s. IAR offered the same range of spraying, fire attack, oil-slick dispersant and Government contract transport tasks as T&G Inc, from the same office block at Goodyear Memorial Airfield, Chandler AZ.

T&G Inc had built up a fleet of tanker Douglas DC-7s used for spraying and fire attack with 3,000 gallon belly tanks. Their DC-7s had been deployed to Africa on locust plague spraying contracts during the 1980s. T&G Inc acquired a number of military surplus Lockheed C-130As from 1989, and equipped them with the removable RADS retardant delivery sustem. Two were operated in France on fire attack contracts.

IAR took over T&G Inc's last operational DC-7 tanker N4887C by 1998 when it continued the T&G Inc fire contract with the State of Alaska for the next three years, crewed by Woody Grantham, Bob Russell & Craig Hutchings. It continued for another four summers working sacross the US mainland states before being retired at IAR's new base Coolidge AZ.
The T&G Inc C-130A Hercules were marketed by IAR as each was brought into civil service, offering them for aerial fire fighting, spraying oil slick dispersant or chemical insecticides, heavy transport and parachuting supplies form the open rear ramp.

During 1991 IAR C-130As gained lucrative transport contracts from the US military in Kuwait for Operation Desert Storm including carrying heavy oil field fire fighting equipment after the war. These Gulf War transport contracts drew heavy criticism from other US air tanker operators who claimed the C-130As had been acquired at little cost through a US Forest Service exchange scheme to reequip tanker companies with turbine aircraft for fire attack use only. Eventually this led to an US Congressional Enquiry and legal action, the findings generating years of US media attention referred to as the Forest Service Air Tanker Scandal.
Refer: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Forest_Service_airtanker_scandal


International Air Response Inc emerged as the sole operating name as T&G Inc ceased business. IAR acquired more C-130A Hercules and world-wide mostly Government sponsored work was carried out. IAR moved from Chandler to Coolidge AZ in 2004, and moved again to Mesa-Falcon Field in 2014.
Refer in this series: Douglas County Aviation and T&G Inc


Douglas DC-7B
N4887C
c/n 45351
1988-current
  33
Registered to T&G Inc until 5.6.02 when tfd IAR
retired Coolidge AZ by 2010, parked there 2017
Lockheed C-130A Hercules
N116TG
56-0473
10.89-9.00
  30
  82
Registered 2.10.89 T&G Inc, op by IAR
op for Securite Civile, Marseille, France 93-00
crashed 6.9.00 Ardreche, Aubenas, French Alps
Lockheed C-130A
N117TG
54-1631
10.89-current
  81
Registered 2.10.89 T&G Inc, tfd 13.10.89 to IAR,
ferried to Kuwait 3.91 for transport contracts, returned to US later that year;
fitted RADS fire attack system 7.93 by Aero Union at Chico CA as tanker #81;
op for Securite Civile, Marseille, France 93-95
Lockheed C-130A N118TG
57-0512
1.90-current

Registered 22.1.90 T&G Inc, tfd same day to IAR
Operated for Marine Spill Response Corp
Lockheed C-130A N131HP
N126TG
56-0534
8.06-parts

Purchased 8.06 Hawkins & Powers closing auction
registered 3.07 IAR, rereg N126TG 2.10
not operated, stripped for parts at Coolidge AZ,
reg cancelled 22.5.14
Lockheed C-130A N133HP
57-0482
8.06-parts

Purchased 8.06 Hawkins & Powers closing auction
registered 11.06 IAR, not operated,
stripped for parts, stripped hulk at Coolidge by 2014
Lockheed C-130A
N131FF
N125TG
56-0530
3.07-parts

Purchased 26.3.07 ex Aero Fire Fighting Service,
retired Chandler AZ 96-07 in faded Securite Civile paint scheme #83,
rereg N125TG 10.1.08 IAR, stripped for parts
stripped hulk N131FF at Coolidge AZ by 2014
Lockheed C-130A
N132FF
N121TG
56-0511
3.07-current

Purchased 26.3.07 ex Aero Fire Fighting Service,
operated in USAF camouflage #83.
retired Chandler AZ 04-07
rereg N121TG 26.3.07 IAR, current
based Cardiff Wales 14-17 oil slick dispersal
Lockheed C-130A N134FF
56-0496
3.07-parts

Purchased 26.3.07 ex Aero Fire Fighting Service, no civil conversion, stored Hemet CA 93-05 in original USAF camouflage,
not operated, stripped for parts, reg cancelled 7.13
Lockheed C-130A
N138FF
N119TG
57-0520
3.07-current

Purchased 26.3.07 ex Aero Fire Fighting Service,
retired Chandler AZ 96-07,
rereg N119TG 26.3.07 IAR, current
Lockheed C-130A
N120TG
54-1638
2.13-current

Purchased 15.2.13 ex Digital C-130A LLC,
Andalusia, Alabama





Douglas DC-7B N4887C in action.                                                                                   Photo: IAR




C-130A Hercules N116TG in fire attack role as tanker #30.                                            Photo: IAR




N119TG at IAR's latest base Mesa AZ in March 2014.                             Photo by Brian Lockett




 International Air Response 1995 brochure


Intermountain Aviation, Marana, Arizona

Intermountain Aviation Inc, Marana AZ
A charter air transport operator which carred out clandstine operations and crew training for the US Central Intelligence Agency from a remote former military airfield Marana AZ. From 1963 Curtiss C-46 Commandos became the standard transport used for freight, personnel, parachuting platform etc.
Among Intermountain Aviation's aircraft fleet was Boeing B-17G N809Z which had been used for CIA tasks including retrieval of agents from the low flying B-17with the Fulton Skyhook system (as used by James Bond and female friend in the movie Thunderball in 1965). It ranged as far as the North Pole in 1962 when the B-17 dropped two US agents to investigate a Soviet ice station and retrieve them three days later.
During 1969 Intermountain Aviation decided to gain more utilisation from their sole B-17 by entering the rapidly growing fire bombing field. N809Z was fitted with an internal retardant tank and delivery system, completed in July 1969 in time to go to work during that year's summer fire season. A DHC-4 Caribou N6080 (c/n 2) was acquired in June 1971 for a USFS smoke-jumpers contract before being transferred to a CIA company Tynol Associates for operation in SE Asia by Air America.

The Intermountain Aviation business was taken over effective March 1974 by Del Smith's Evergreen Helicopters of McMinnville, Oregon. Evergreen had also been engaged in special operations for US Government agencies so the acquisition of Intermountain including the Marana private airfield with all its facilities would allow Evergreen to expand its tactical contract work. In November 1975 Evergreen Helicopters Inc bought out Johnson Flying Service at Missoula MT to acquire its Supplemental Air Carrier certification and fleet of Lockheed Electras.
Del Smith, President of Evergreen then established two new subsidiaries:
Evergreen International Airlines Inc, based at Evergreen Air Centre, Marana AZ: transport charters
Evergreen Air of Montana Inc, based at Missoula MT: to operate the former Johnson utility aircraft for Government agencies.

Intermountain Aviation other aircraft:
Douglas A-26 Invader: N5001X/N800V, N5002X/N900V
Curtiss C-46 Commando: N67936, N74811, N8417C, N1698M, N5076N, N9700Z, N9761Z, N9900Z
Douglas C-47:     N404D, N404U
Douglas DC-6A: N61267
DHC-4 Caribou: N6080
Lockheed PV-2 N7258C: crashed into houses 3.2.66 due engine fire on takeoff Phoenix-Sky Harbor AZ

Refer in this series: Evergreen Airlines

Boeing B-17G
N809Z
44-83785
10.62-3.75
  C22
  C71
  B71
  71
tfd 4.10.62 ex Atlantic General Enterprises (CIA) ex Taiwan operations,
tanked at Marana 7.69 for fire attack
tfd 1.3.75 to Evergreen Helicopters as tanker





N809Z at Marana AZ September 1968 with the Fulton Skyhook apparatus on the nose.    Photo by Neil Aird




Intermountain Aviation N809Z at East Wenatchee WA fire attack base in August 1971 as tanker #71.
The cabin windows are a reminder of its earlier clandestine CIA transport days.         Photo by Ron Olsen
        



N809Z at Marana February 1973 after a repaint, Evergreen Aviation name on fuselage, tanker number C71.
Photo by Dave Welch



Jadon Enterprises Inc, Riverside, California

Consolidated
PBY-6A Catalina
N2846D
Bu64017
by 1962-1963
  E87
sold .63 to Air Tankers Inc, Seattle WA as #E87



Charlie T. "Red" Jensen, Sacramento, California and Tonopah, Nevada

Charles T. Jenson, Sacramento CA trading as Farm Air Inc, Sacramento CA.
Based at Sacramento Municiple Airport, later Capitol Sky Park, West Sacramento
Jenson also operated under these company names:
- Nevadair Inc, Reno NV, Box 311 Reno NV
- Nevada Cropdusters Inc, Box 311 Reno NV
- C.T.Jensen of Nevada Inc, Box 311 Reno NV
- Tonopah Air Service Inc, Tonopah Municiple Airport NV


Charlie "Red" Jensen was a widely-known aerial agricultural operator during the 1930s to 1960s covering California and Nevada.
His large fleet of sprayers and dusters were registered among the various operating company names and included heavy sprayers such as Grumman TBM Avengers and a Grumman Wildcat
In 1954 he teamed up with Paul Mantz in Los Angeles to conduct he pioneering early trials of a dedicated fire bomber for the US Forestry Service using a Grumman TBM Avenger fitted with a 600 US gallon water tank constructed from plywood.
As the USFS began introducing fire tankers later in the 1950s, Jensen was contracted to modify some of his cropdusting Navy N3N biplanes as fire bombers.
He purchased a USAF surplus B-25 Mitchell N5262V in 1957, almost certainly with the intention of tanking it for fire attack work, but after ferrying it to his Tonopah Nevada base it was parked in the hangar for the next 27 years.
By 1978 Charlie Jensen was retired at Klamath Falls Oregon and he died in 1980.
An auction of his remaining 20 aircraft, spare parts and workshop equipment was held at Sacramento on 25 April 1981. It drew over 500 aviation enthusiasts and included two unairworthy Grumman Avengers - one sold to John Crocker & Mike Bogue, Oakland CA and the other to Dick Foy, Portland Oregon.

Other aircraft:
Travelair 4000:      N54129, N6297, N8132, N8715, N436N, N390M, N645H
Naval N3N:           N45084, N45292, N44973, N45136
Boeing Steaman:   N62911, N63519, N63594, N57441, N68824, N68825, N68826, N68828, N68829, N68830, N68832, N68833,
                              N68834, N68835
Vultee BT-13        N56916
Piper J-3C Cub     N98804
PA-18 Super Cub N7676D
Hiller UH-12        N5334V, N7725C, N7726C
Cessna 140           N2255N

Naval Aircraft Factory  N3N
N45084
4497
by 1956-1981
   E11
  
operated as fire tanker 1957-1964,
retired in hangar Sacramento as tanker 1964-1981
sold 4.81at auction to Dale Newton, Chico CA
Naval N3N
N45292
2728
by 1956-1963
   E7
operated as fire tanker 1957-1964
Naval N3N
N45032
1933
by 1964
   E6
operated as fire tanker 64
Grumman FM-2 Wildcat
N68843
Bu86747
by 1956-1974

operated as insecticide sprayer, yellow paint scheme
retired in hangar Reno NV 1960-1974
sold .74 to Ken Spiva, Tracy CA, flown out
North American
TB-25K Mitchell
N5262V
44-86785
1.58-1975

no civil conversion, stored in hangar Tonopah NV
1958-1975, sold .75 to Mid Pacific International Inc, Eugene OR, ferried to Oakland CA for overhaul
Grumman TBM-3
Avenger
N3965A
Bu69375
by 1963-1981
 
sold 4.81 at auction
to USS Hornet Memorial, Alameda CA
Grumman TBM-3
N3966A
Bu53319
6.58-1981

no civil conversion, stored in hangar Sacramento in
US Navy blue "53319 RB-319"
sold 4.81 at auction to Aero Union Corp, Chico CA
flown out to Chico, later sold to England G-BTDP
Grumman TBM-3
N3967A
Bu53835
by 1963-1978

sold .78 to Maynard Lund, Ritzville WA as sprayer
Grumman TBM-3
N6830C
Bu85560
by 1963-1977


Grumman TBM-3
N6831C
Bu86123
by 1962-1979
  E22
conv. .62 to fire tanker by Jensen
sold .79 to Richard Dieter & Ray Stutsman,
South Bend IN, restored as warbird





 Jensen fire bombing Naval N3N N45084 at Placerville CA in October 1964, re-engined with P&W R-1340:
                               Photo by William T. Larkins 



Ralph Johnson, RALCO, Cheyenne Wyoming
Ralph S. Johnson was an elder statesman of the US aerial application industry.  A highly experienced airline captain who had been flying since 1930, he was a pioneer in heavy aircraft spraying, dusting and baiting, purchasing 22 military surplus PV-2 Harpoons in 1954. He later modified some PV-2s as fire tankers, adding A-26 and DC-4 types for firebombing.
Ralph Johnson traded as Master Equipment Co, Cheyenne WY, conducting aerial operations under the name RALCO, Cheyenne WY.
- Refer RALCO


Johnson Flying Service, Missoula Montana
Johnson Fying Service Inc, Missoula MT
Established in 1929 by Robert R. Johnson and incorported as an aviation business on 6 March 1929. Bob Johnson and his brother Dick Johnson developed an aviation FBO business with flying school, air taxi and maintenance. However they built up a specialist contractor role with the US Forest Service and other Government agencies,  providing transport and forest fire control services to inhospitable Tall Timber regions of the Northern Rocky Mountains. This included aerial seeding and dropping parachuting "smoke jumper" fire fighters and equipment. 
A diverse aircraft fleet was used pre-war, but the mainstay were Ford Trimotors which were maintained for 30 years, suffering numerous accidents on rough airstrips. Bob Johnson had a standard quote each time he was informed of the latest wrecked Trimotor "Fly the biggest piece back". The company workshops at Missoula would then commenced a rebuild from their spares and parts of other wrecked Fords.

After WWII, Forest Service work continued as the mainstay of JFS operations,. A 1948 report quoted the fleet as 2 DC-3s, 3 Ford Trimotors, Cessna T-50s, 3 Travel Air 6Bs, Curtiss Sedan, Beech F17D, Stinson 108 and for the pilot school Cessna 140s and 6 Piper Cubs.
As more military surplus aircraft became available JFS standardised on Douglas C-47s, Curtiss C-46s, Beech 18s and the survivors of the pre-war stalwarts, Ford Trimotors and Travel Air 6000s
To find year-round utilisation for its C-46s and C-47s, JFS gained Irregular Air Carrier certification and bid for US military personnel transport contracts. By 1953 two of each type were in passenger service on military charters. In January 1954 Bob Johnson announced the formation of Johnson Airlines, to initially fly scheduled DC-3 services between Seattle and Spokane via Washington State towns and fares well below current airlines. However the Washington route experiment was not a success and dropped after a month.
On December 22 that year JFS DC-3 N24320 was ditched in an icy river at night in Pennsylvania due fuel exhaustion. It was carrying 4 JFS pilots and a male cabin attendant on a US Army charter flight from Newark NJ to Tacoma WA carrying 23 soldiers on leave. 10 drowned including Captain Harold Poe who had reached shore but dived back into the water to help others.  The investigation found the cause was inadequate flight planning and inadequate crew supervision and training. The Department of Defence banned JFS from its civilian air transport program for several years,  the CAA considered cancelling Johnson's passenger carrying certificates, but determined the failures were  primarily the actions of the pilot in command and not the company. The law suits commenced from the families of the dead passengers and the following years were difficult times for JFS.



The original Hale Field at Missoula in 1949 showing JFS Fords, DC-3s and Twin Beech types.
In 1954 Hale Field closed and JFS moved to the new Missoula Airport (MSO)




Bob Johnson in a Ford Trimotor cockpit




Johnson Flying Services DC-3s under smoky skies at the new (current) Missoula Airport in the late 1950s.
The airport was named Johnson-Bell Field after Bob Johnson and civic leader Harry Bell


           In the mid 1950s USFS requested Johnson Flying Services to investigate aerial fire bombing of forest fires. The first three Grumman TBMs were acquired from Navy surplus and ferried from the Litchfield Park storage field to Missoula, where they were fitted with retardant tanks constructed by the company. It is reported that JFS first experimented with "slurry bombing" forest fires with its Ford Trimotors flown by Edgar Thorsrud in the mid 1950s but details are sketchy. The TBMs went into service from 1957 as dedicated fire tankers dropping the original highly toxic "Borate" retardant. They were adaptable for insecticide spraying and JFS was contracted to send TBMs to Canada for the spruce forest budworm spraying seasons from the mid 1960s. More TBMs were acquired and the tanker division became an important part of the JFS business, later upgrading to Lockheed Neptunes.
           Meanwhile the supplemental air carrier work was expanded with the purchase of a DC-4 and Lockheed Electras operating under names Johnson Air and later Johnson International Airlines.  These large transports were used to carry USFS personnel during the summer months, and general charter for the rest of the year.  They brought new complexities and heavy costs for the company. In April 1975 Johnson lost their main USFS contracts to Christler Flying Service,Thermopolis WY which had underbid their price. It was a bitter blow for Bob Johns, retired and aged in his 80s, but still closely involved with his company and he wanted to sell.
          On 6 October 1975 the Civil Aeronautics Board approved the sale of Johnson International Airlines to Evergreen Helicopters of McMinnville Oregon. The sale included Johnson's Supplemental Air Carrier certification and the remaining Electras. Del Smith, President of Evergreen established two new subsidiaries:
Evergreen International Airlines Inc, based at Evergreen Air Centre, Marana AZ: freight and passenger charters
Evergreen Air of Montana Inc, based at Missoula MT: to operate the former Johnson Flying Service utility aircraft for Government agencies.

          Johnson Flying Services and subsidiary companies were dissolved and disincorporated effective January 1977. Bob Johnson continued as a consultant to Evergreen Air of Montana Inc until 1978 when Evergreen sold its Missoula interests to Minuteman Aviation.
          Robert Roney Johnson died on 15 December 1980 in his sleep at Missoula, aged 87.


Other aircraft (since 1945):
Ford Trimotors:      N69905, N7861, N8400, N8407, N8419, N9612, N9642
Travel Air 6000:    N464W, N447W, N655H, N8112, N9038, N9084
Beech E17:            N15412
Beech AT-11:        N6949C, N6950C, N75189, N8069H, N8070H
Beech 18 various models:  N9327Z, N9328Z, N90290, N90291, N686Q, N119T, N36F, N452CC
Vultee BT-13        N53375
Douglas DC-2:      N4867V
Douglas DC-3:      N24320, N49446, N91378, N91379
Douglas DC-4:      N88890
Curtiss C-46:         N611Z, N74173, N9900Z,  N67984, N92854, N9077R
Lockheed Electra: N7140C, N7136C, N7137C, N1006T
DHC-6 Twin Otter: N300JF
Bell 47s:                N178B, N73931, N73224, N73947, N75189, N73946, N8416E, N73221, N2816A, N8414E, N8418E,
                              N8409E, N73269, N1325X, N78065
Bell 206                 N4044G, N43HH
Grumman F6F Hellcat  US Navy blue "NAVY 711" stored at JFS hangars Missoula early 50s
Numerous single-engined types: Aeronca, Navion, Piper Cub, PA-12, PA-18, PA-24, Cessnas 140 to 206


Ford 4-AT-6
N9612
c/n 55
by 1950-1969
    2
Used as fire tanker 1956-60 at least
Ford 4-AT-E
N8407
c/n 69
by 1950-1964

Used as fire tanker 1956-57 at least
Grumman TBM-3
Avenger
N7014C
Bu85836
1957-2.75
  A11

Registered 27.3.57 to JFS
ditched in lake while spraying in Maine, salvaged
sold 2.75 to Evergreen AS Quebec as C-GLEP
Grumman TBM-3
N7015C
Bu85854
1957-12.74
  D7
  A7
Registered 27.3.57 to JFS
sold 12.74 to Forest Protection Ltd as C-GLEQ
Grumman TBM-3 N7016C
Bu85862
1957-7.64

Registered 27.3.57 to JFS
crashed 20.7.64 during fire attack Beaverhead MT
Grumman TBM-3 N3249G
Bu91159
1959-12.74
  A14
Registered 21.9.59 to JFS
sold 12.74 to Forest Protection Ltd as C-GLEN
Grumman TBM-3 N3250G
Bu91137
1959-9.61

Registered 10.9.59 to JFS
crashed 16.9.61 fire attack McCall D, pilot baled out
Grumman TBM-3 N3251G
Bu91938
1959-5.70
  A15
Registered 16.9.59 to JFS
crashed 5.70 forest spraying Dunphy NB Canada
Grumman TBM-3 N6129C
Bu80390
1961-5.63

Purchased .61 ex Aero Enterprises, Ekhart IN
tanked .61 for fire bombing at Salem OR
sold 9.5.63 to Calvin Butler, Redmond OR
Grumman TBM-3 N9597C
Bu85499
10.63-12.74
  D6
  A6
Purchased 10.6.63 ex Calvin Butler, Redmond OR
sold 12.74 to Forest Protection Ltd as C-GLEM
Grumman TBF-1C N7922A
Bu48032
1964-6.66

Purchased c64 ex Idaho Aircraft Co as a tanker
crashed 5.6.66 forest spraying Chipman NB Canada
Grumman TBM-3 N6824C
Bu85733
8.66-2.75
  A12
Purchased 5.8.66 ex Hillcrest Aircraft
sold 2.75 to Evergreen AS Quebec as C-GLEK
Grumman TBM-3 N9010C
Bu53200
4.67-2.75
  A13
Purchased 5.8.66 ex Hillcrest Aircraft
sold 2.75 to Evergreen AS Quebec as C-GLEL
Grumman TBM-3 N3969A
Bu53787
c67-5.76
  A21
    1
Purchased c67 ex Edgar Thorsrud, Missoula
sold 5.76 to Forest Protection Ltd as C-GFPT
North American
B-25 Mitchell
N9088Z
44-30733
12.59-12.66

Purchased 12.59 ex National Metals, Phienix AZ
tanked for fire bombing
sold 12.66 to Edgar Thorsrud, Missoula MT based in Alaska as tanker #8Z
Douglas A-26
Invader
N3426G
44-35497
1961-11.75
  A17
  17
Acquired .61 ex trade school instructional airframe, ferried to Missoula .61 in USAF black scheme,
tanked by JFS
tfd 11.75 to Evergreen Air of Montana as #17
sold .77 to Lynch Air Tankers Billings MT as #56
Grumman F7F-3
Tigercat
N6129C
Bu80390
1961-5.63

Purchased .61 ex Aero Enterprises, Ekhart IN
tanked .61 for fire bombing at Salem OR
sold 9.5.63 to Calvin Butler, Redmond OR
Lockheed P2V-7 Neptune
N65170
c/n 8025
RCAF 24125
7.72-3.75
  A16
  A17
Purchased 7.72 ex The Flying Fireman, Victoria BC as CF-MQX ntu
tanked .72 at Medford OR by Rosenbalm Aviation,
Registered N65170 JFS 7.72, CofA issued 12.7.72
sold 19.3.75 to Black Hills Aviation NM
P2V-7 Neptune
N14447
c/n 8010
RCAF 24110
3.73-3.75
  F11
Purchased 15.3.73 ex The Flying Fireman BC CF-MQV ntu
tanked .72 at Medford OR by Rosenbalm Aviation,
Registered N14447 JFS 15.3.73
sold 19.3.75 to Black Hills Aviation NM
P2V-7 Neptune
N14448
c/n 8013
RCAF 24113
3.73-3.75
  A16
Purchased 15.3.73 ex The Flying Fireman BC CF-MQW ntu
tanked .72 at Medford OR by Rosenbalm Aviation
Registered N14448 JFS 15.3.73
sold 19.3.75 to Black Hills Aviation NM





Johnson Flying Service Ford 4-AT-6 Trimotor N9612 at Orofino Idaho in August 1952.
Photo by William T. Larkins




The same Ford retired at Missoula in 1968, with fire tanker #2 on the rudder.             Photo by Neil Aird




Johnson Flying Service Douglas A-26 N3426G tanker #A17 at Missoula in the early 1960s.
Photo: Douglas A/B-26 site




A-26 N3426G  #A17 in a more sedate paint scheme, Missoula MT September 1968.            Photo by Neil Aird
                         



A-26 N3426G tanker #A17 early morning at Troutdale, Oregon in June 1972.          Photo by Ron Olsen




Johnson Grumman TBMs at Missoula in September 1968.                          Photo by Neil Aird




Grumman TBM-3 N3969A at Missoula in September 1968 with unusual tail number "1".    Photo by Neil Aird




Johnson TBM N7014C tanker #A11 being flown by Ray Green



A candid picture of Johnson Flying Service TBM tanker pilots on a job at Bozeman MT: from left
Jack Hughes who later became company President, Elwood "Swede Nelson, Ken Roth, Bob Culver





Johnson operated this DC-2 N4867V for many years, carrying forestry personnel and dropping smoke jumpers
Photo by Tom Baillie at Missoula, September 1968




USAF surplus Beech C-45H N9328Z at Missoula in 1968 was one of many Twin Beech models used by Johnson




Kem-Air Inc, Worland, Wyoming

Kem-Air Inc, Worland WY, later Airnsworth WY.
Aerial spraying company operated by James L. Shipley.  Douglas A-26 Invaders were used from the early 1960s and at least one was equipped as a fire tanker.

Other aircraft:
Callair A1  N9959C
Callair A9  N2929G
PA-25 Pawnee: N6956Z, N6969Z
PA-28 Cherokee  N9015J
Cessna 150  N7853E

Douglas A-26
Invader
N3427G
44-35425
c1964-6.73
  B27
  A28

purchased ex Pacific Flight Services, Angwin CA
sold 27.6.73 to Lynch Air Tankers, Billings MT
Douglas A-26
N4060A
44-34102
c1967-6.73

purchased ex John M. Sliker,Wadley GA
sold 27.6.73 to Lynch Air Tankers, Billings MT
Douglas A-26 N7662C
44-34724
c1967-6.70

purchased ex Pacific Flight Services, Angwin CA
sold 6.70 to Dontuss Industries, Edmonton ALTA Canada as a tanker, to CF-BVH 
Douglas A-26 N3711G
43-22620
2.68-2.72

purchased 16.2.68 ex John M. Sliker,Wadley GA
sold 2.72 to Air Spray Ltd, Edmonton ALTA as a tanker, to CF-EZX





Kem-Air A-26 N3427G tanker #A28 at Billings MT in May 1973, just after sale to Lynch Air Tankers.
Photo by Jay L. Sherlocko

King Baker, Fresno California
Refer: Aero Enterprises, Fresno CA



Kinney Air Tankers, Richey Montana

Kinney Air Tankers Inc, PO Box 82, Richey MT. Richey airfield was a small dirt strip and all Kinney operations were based at nearby Glendive Airport, Montana.  Operations re-structured in 1984 under new name Dawson Aviation of Montana Inc, Richey MT.

Kinney Aviation was established in mid 1970s at Glendive Airport as an aerial agricultural business by Bruce R. Kinney, Richey MT.
Specialised in large acerage spraying using Naval N3N biplanes with 450hp P&W R-985 radials and 220 gallon spray tanks, also Cessna 188s and Callair B-1s.

Kinney Air Tankers
commenced fire tanker operations in 1975 with a single Boeing B-17 tanker.
From 1979 Kinney built up a substantial tanker fleet in a commercial association with Bill Dempsay's Central Air Services. Aircraft and services were transferred between the two operations.  PV-2 Harpoons were used for spraying as well as fire bombing. The largest tanker, Douglas DC-7B N823D was destroyed on the ground at Glendive by a suspicious overnight fire, rumoured to have been carried out by a disgruntled dismissed pilot. Despite police invesigations, nobody was ever charged witharson.
Kinney operated in association with ShelIey I.Verschoot, Richey MT trading as Custom Farm Service, Richey MT to whom ownership of Cessna Agwagons and several PV-2 Harpoons were transferred for periods. However the aircraft remained in service with Kinney at Glendive. Kinney's business arrangement with Shelley Verschoot and her busband was later terminated in acrimonious circumstances.

A local report says that Bruce Kinney was in regular conflict with the Glendive Airport commission and Dawson County over unauthorised building extentions to his hangars and chemical spills in the ground where his spray aircraft were loaded each season. Kinney stated in 1981 that he owned only one aircraft and all the rest were leased from other operators. Eventually in 1984 Dawson County brought in the Montana Department of Environmental Quality to dig out the contaminated area on the airfield at Kinney's expense. Kinney was refused a lease renewal on his Glendive Airport hangars and office also his chemical spraying operations were banned at both Glendive or Richey airports.

As a result, in 1984 Bruce Kinney established a new partnership with Dennis Hill of Missoula MT to form Dawson Aviation of Montana Inc, Richey MT with Cessna Agwagons for agricultural spraying and PV-2s for large-acreage spraying including grasshopper swarm eradiction. Under Hill's name Dawson Aviation was able to lease a hangar and recommence operations at Glendive Airport, although Kinney was still very much in charge. Dawson Aviation was dissolved during 1986. The final heavy tanker to depart Glendive was PV-2 N7670C purchased by John Hirth duing 1987, which he flew out that year. John and his wife Connie had been flying and maintaining PV-2s at Glendive for several years but now went out on their own: refer Hirth Air Tankers.

1987 found Bruce Kinney flying his own PA-36 Pawnee Brave with a new Glendive ag spraying operator Don Orwick who took over the Dawson Aviation hangar for his Cessna Agtrucks.   Bruce Kinney moved away from Glendive in 1988 and soon after was killed in a collision between a Grumman AgCat and a Bull Thrush while spraying in Idaho.

A Glendive aviator who watched the Bruce Kinney period wrote recently "Sadly, the only evidence to suggest there was once a mighty fleet of airtankers and large acreage sprayers based here is an old main wheel off a PV-2 and bent tin on Kinney’s former hangar where the pilot of an A-26 ran the right wingtip into the corner."

Kinney Air Tankers reformed as Dawson Aviation from 1984

Boeing B-17G
Fortress
N9323R
44-85828
12.75-5.78
  37
Purchased 12.75 ex Aero Flite, Cody WY #37
sold 18.5.78 to Aircraft Specialties, Mesa AZ
Lockheed PV-2D
Harpoon
N6657D
Bu84062
2.79-11.85
  101
tfd 26.2.79 ex Central Air Service  #101
tfd .81 to Custom Farm Service, Richey MT
tfd 1.7.85 to Dennis Hill, Richey MT
tfd 30.9.85 to Dawson Aviation, Richey MT
(operated on grasshopper spraying contracts)
sold 11.85 to Teske's Aviation, Twin Falls ID
Lockheed PV-2
N6853C
Bu37159
10.79-6.87
    176
tfd 10.79 ex Bill Dempsay/D&D Aerial Spraying, Rantoul KS as sprayer
grasshopper spraying North Dakota and Oregon
tfd 4.2.81 to Dempsay/Central Air Service
tfd 6.5.81 ex CAS
tfd 12.5.85 to Dennis Hill, Richey MT
tfd 3.12.85 to Central Air Service, Rantoul KS
(modified .85-86 to fire tanker #176)
tfd 3.6.87 ex Central Air Service
sold 4.6.87 (next day) to Quarry Products CA
Lockheed PV-2D
N6651D
Bu37537
2.81-1984
  103
tfd 26.2.81 ex Central Air Service  #E40
tfd 2.84 to Custom Farm Service, Richey MT
sold .84 Gary Larkins CA for US Navy Museum
Lockheed PV-2
Howard Cargo Harpoon
N7428C
Bu37262
6.84-12.84
    -
Purchased 1.6.84 as impounded rug runner Florida,
sold 1.12.84 to Richard Mitchell, Broussard LA for restoration as warbird Fat Cat
Lockheed PV-2
N7261C
Bu37107
1986
    -
leased .86 ex RALCO as sprayer
Lockheed PV-2
N7670C
Bu37472
1986-87

leased ex Arbor Air, Columbus NE: sprayer
purchased .87 by John Hirth, Buffalo WY
Douglas DC-7B
N823D
c/n 45332
2.81-5.82
  110
tfd 23.2.81 ex Central Air Service #101
destroyed by fire 1.5.82 on ground Glendive MT
Douglas A-26 Invader
N5544V
44-35552
6.81-2.85
  104
tfd 6.81 ex Central Air Service #104
sold 20.2.85 to Duane Sly, Platte SD for museum
Douglas A-26
N74874
44-34508
6.81-c87
  107
tfd 6.81 ex Central Air Service #107
tfd 1.8.00 to Bill Dempsay, Rantoul KS
Douglas A-26
N3428G
44-35523
6.81-7.85
  108
tfd 6.81 ex Central Air Service #108
left gear collapsed landing Dubois PA 2.6.82
tfd 2.84 to Custom Farm Service, Richey MT
tfd 5.7.85 to Central Air Service, Rantoul KS
Douglas C-54Q
N96454
Bu56531
1984
  105
leased from Central Air Service for 1984 season





Kinney Air Tankers' B-17 N9323R tanker #37 at Mesa AZ in 1979 in storage after ferry from Glendive MT.
Photo by Geoff Goodall




PV-2 N6657D fire tanker #101 in May 1982 with Kinney Air Tankers, usually flown by Jim Keel.
Photo by Dick Phillips




 Kinney Air Tankers group with PV-2D Harpoon N6657D tanker #101: from left: pilot Byron Sunwall,
engineer Rusty Shoemaker, pilots John and Connie Hirth, Bruce Kinney.         Photo:Byron Sunwall




Insecticide being loaded in N6657D during grass hopper spraying. Kinney Air Tankers is painted on the nose.
Peter Marson collection




Propliner magazine No.15 Autumn 1982





  


                               Trade-A-Plane November 1983                                             Trade-A-Plane November 1986




Kreitzberg Aviation, Salem Oregon
Kreitzberg Aviation Inc was formed in the mid 1950s by George F. Kreitzberg, Salem OR
An associate company was Kreitzberg Aviation Sales Co, Salem OR

George Kreitzberg graduated in 1942 from the Spartan School of Aeronautical Engineering and gained his pilot licence. After years of experience flying insecticide spraying in Stearmans, Ford Trimotors and DC-3s, he started his own company Kreitzberg Aviation.
In 1956 he purchased a number of Navy surplus Grumman F6F Hellcats which he equipped for forest spraying.

Kreitzberg pioneered the use of Grumman F7F Tigercats for aerial application in 1957 when he purchased the first of five F7Fs from US Navy disposals at  Litchfield Park storage airfield, Arizona.  He initially put several into service on a contract to spray sagebrush in eastern Oregon, fitted with large 500 gallon insecticide tanks under each wing. One was modified for fire attack, using the same underwing tanks but with a redesigned dump doors.  Convinced that the F7F could be developed into an effective fire bomber, Kreitzberg teamed up with Robert Stevenon of Cal-Nat Airways, Grass Valley CA, to design, test and certify internal and belly retardant tanks of 800 or 900 gallons capacity. The partnership is reported to have purchased a total of 16 Grumman F7F-3s which became the source for most Tigercat tankers.
When the drop system was approved, Kreitzberg Aviation built the tanks for other F7F operators.
Kreitzberg held the FAA type certificate approval for civilianised Grumman F7Fs.
During the 1960s he withdrew from fire bombing, reportedly frustrated by increasing federal restrictions.

Other aircraft:
Vultee BT-13 N75789
PA-18 Super Cub N8561C
Cessna 150 N6498T
Cessna 172 N7343T
Cessna 180 N6567A
NA T-28A Trojan N2891G

Grumman F7F-3 Tigercat
N7195C
Bu80532
10.57-1963
 
Ferried 10.57 to Salem ex NAS Litchfield Park AZ,
fitted for spraying, testflown Salem 10.8.58,
converted to fire tanker 5.60
leased 2.7.60 to Scotts Valley Flying Service,
Etna CA for three seasons as a tanker,
sold .63 to Sis-Q Flying Service as tanker #E32
Grumman F7F-3
N6129C
Bu80390
1958-5.59

Ferried c58 to Phoenix AZ ex Litchfield Park,
civil conv

sold 26.5.59 to Wayne B. Fowler, Shaw Island WA as a spayer
Grumman F7F-3
N6178C
Bu80483
1958-64

sold .64 to Cal-Nat Airways CA as tanker #E43
Grumman F7F-3



  18
unidentified tanker, crashed near Sacramento CA
Douglas A-26
N74874
44-34506
by 1963-67
  F74
sold c67 to Rosenbalm Aviation OR as tanker #F74
Douglas A-26
N8026E
44-35323
c1963-67

sold c67 to Aero Flite OR as tanker #C55





George Kreitzberg (left) with unidentified Tigercat tanker #18.                                Photo: Steve Zuger




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