|Last updated 10 March 2021|
|US FIRE BOMBER OPERATORS: L to P |
A historical survey of US fire attack air tanker companies to the year 2000, compiled by Geoff Goodall
|La Grande Air Service, La Grande Oregon:|
|La Grande Air Inc, P.O.Box 2, La Grande OR|
La Grande Air Service Inc, Airport, La Grande OR
La Grande Air Inc was an agricultural operator which conducted tanker operations in early 1960s as an associate of Hillcrest Aircraft Co, Le Grande OR (Jerry Wilson). The two businesses initially shared the same Le Grande Post Office Box number.
After Hillcrest Aircraft Co moved its main operating base to Lewiston Oregon, La Grande Air was reformed as La Grande Air Service as a FBO at La Grande Airport and in 1976 began fire bombing operations with a Douglas DC-7C under the management of William M. Cooper.
Boeing Stearman N1181N
Cessna 172 N3967F, N1781F; Cessna 182 N8833T, N42324; Cessna 206 N2192F
|N90802 at Chandler AZ October 1979 with T& G Aviation, soon after its purchase from La Grande Air Service. |
Tanker number #115 has been removed from the tail, probably in anticipation of new number being allocated by USFS,
however #115 was retained in T&G service. A layer of retardant stains the underrsides. Photo by Geoff Goodall
|Lampson Flying Service, Lakeport California|
Lampson Flying Service, Lampson Field, Lakeport CA
An agricultural business, operating from as early as 1954 with Boeing Stearmans. By 1961 had tanked a Beech C-45G for fire bombing.
Boeing Stearman N62287, N62946
Piper J3C Cub N22902
Cessna 150H N7179S
|Larrabee & Rabinette, Boise Idaho|
Robert L. Larrabee, Boeing Field, Seattle Washington
Larrabee & Rabinette, Boise Idaho
Robert L. Larrabee purchased a Lockheed Harpoon N7086C which he had tanked circa 1960 at Boeing Field, Seattle with a fibreglass retardant tank.
By 1962 he was operating the Harpoon as Larrabee & Rabinette based at Boise Idaho.
In 1963 the Harpoon was leased to B&B Flying Service at Wenatchee WA.
|Lockheed PV-2 N7086C tanker #D20 with Larrabee & Rabinette. Charles M. Daniels collection via aerialvisuals.ca
|Wesley Lewis, Pampa Texas|
Wesley Lewis trading as Lewis Aircraft Service, 1922 North Falkiner, Pampa TX.
Dean J. Lewis trading as Red River Sprayers. Pampa TX
A pest spraying operation from the early 1950s, included because the tankers may have been used for fire attack.
The Texans were modified single-seaters with a chemical hopper.
|John Lippett, Salmon Idaho
John P. Lippett, Salmon Idaho
John P. Lippett trading as Western Air Tankers, Marana Arizona
|Liston Aircraft, Klamath Falls Oregon|
Les Liston trading as Liston Aircraft, P.O.Box 1068, Klamath Falls OR
By 1963 operated a PBY-6A Catalina water bomber N6455C, also two others in association with Farmers Air Service, Klamath Falls, sharing the same Post Office Box number.
A 1963 USFS tanker allocation listing shows Liston Aircraft as operators of all three Catalinas
During 1963 ownership of the two Farmers Air Services aircfraft was taken over by Liston Aircraft, but the fire operations continued to be undertaken in both company names for another year or so.
Les Liston and Fred Childers were killed in the crash of N6455C, after which Liston Aircraft was taken over by Butler Aircraft Co, Redmond Oregon.
|Liston Aircraft's PBY-6A N6458C
Ron Olsen collection
|Liston Aircraft's PBY-6A N6455C while stored with other US Navy disposals Catalinas prior to civil conversion.
Ed Coates Collection
|N6455C as tanker #F47 in service with Liston Aircraft|
|Loening Air, Boise Idaho|
Michael T. Loening trading as Loening Air Inc, P.O.Box 4461, Boise ID
Michael T. Loening, Salmon ID
|Michael T. Loening was son of the 1930s aircraft designer Grover Loening.
Mikchael set up Salmon Air Taxi, Salmon Idaho before establishing Loening Air at Boise Airport as a FBO and Cessna dealership. The business was sold to Boise Air Service in 1969.
Loening Air entered the air tanker business for several years from 1965. Operations appear to have been spraying only, but may have included fire suppression. Early tanker operations reportedly were in conjunction with experienced fire bomber pilot Clayton Curtiss who based himself at Boise at that time.
Michael Loening was prominent in the US General Aviation scene, was an approved FAA Pilot Examiner and was elected President of the National Pilots Association during the 1970s.
He owned two P-51D Mustangs registered in his own name. The second N5482V was purchased as an air racer, which Mike Loening flew in races at Mojave and Reno under the banner of Chance Enterprises. He named the Mustang Chance III,later Boise Bitch later Miss Salmon River before it was wrecked in a forced landing during a race at Reno 26.9.71.
Michael Loening was killed in an aircraft accident on 28 February 1977.
Other aircraft (during the tanker period):
Loening Air: Cessna 182 N4952D, N4958D; Cessna 185 N9862X, N2517Z; Cessna 206 N206L N5062U; Cessna 411 N7350U
Michael Loening: Cessna 185 N185ML, Cessna 205 N8233Z, P-51D Mustang N6173C (1963-64), N5482V (1967-71)
|Lynch Air Tankers, Billings Montana|
Lynch Air Tankers Inc, Logan International Airport, Billings MT
John Dennis "Denny" Lynch
Company President Denny Lynch founded the tanker business in 1965 with a single Douglas A-26 Invader purchased already tanked.
His father and an uncle had operated air taxi and ambulance charter at Billings as Lynch Flying Service after WWII with a fleet of Cessna Bobcats. Denny and his brother Tom reorganised the business renamed Lynch Flying Service as a major FBO and air charter organisation at Billings Airport. During 1960 Denny took on side work flying Curtiss C-46 Comandos for Johnson Flying Services at nearby Missoula MT, mostly carrying smoke jumper teams. That led to his endorsement on JFS B-25 Mitchell fire bombers, and Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon fire-ant insecticide spraying in Georgia for Ralph Johnson (RALCO). Finding this type of flying far more satisfying than the FBO business, Denny formed Lynch Air Tankers, while Tom became President of Lynch Flying Service.
|Denny Lynch's other
brother Pat was Chief Engineer of Lynch Air Tankers, carrying out the
civil certification of their second A-26 which Denny ferried from Tucson in 1968 in stock military configuration. More
A-26 Invaders were acquired and the tankers were later modified as
"Lynch STOL 26" with wing fences and other airframe changes designed by
Denny.The A-26 was a successful choice, Lynch Air Tankers gaining
annual contracts from USFS, State government departments and commercial
In 1978 three A-26s were purchased for spare parts from warbird dealer and Confederate Air Force backer John Stokes of San Marcos Texas. The three were stored at Louisville, Georgia where Denny and Pat made one, N74833 operational for Denny to ferry to Billings.
Also during 1978 Denny acquired a damaged B-26K Counter Invader C-GXTG which had been abandoned on its belly at Macon Georga the previous year after a severe heavy landing had rammed the undercarriage legs up into the wing structure. It was still in USAF Vietnam era camouflage and was being test flown prior to delivery to a Canadian buyer. Pat and a team of engineers spent over a month working on the B-26K in the open weather at Macon, using parts from the other two Louisville A-26s which they moved to Macon by road.With hand-painted registration N4988N, Denny flew the B-26K to Billings later that year. Any initial thoughts of using it as a tanker were dashed by officialdom, so it became his personal restoration project over the next 20 years with occasional flights.
Denny Lych in October 1981. Photo by Geoff Goodall
|Lynch Air Tankers was
solely an A-26 operator during its 30 years, but Denny Lynch did
consider larger types. Before the 1968 summer season he submitted a
detailed proposal to USFS for tanking a DC-6 airliner to carry 2,800
gallons of retardant. It had been trialled in Alaska by Don Gilbert,
but his local USFS office was unconvinced and rejected the Lynch
proposal on cost grounds.
In 1972 Lynch submitted a proposal for USAF disposals Boeing KC-97Ls tanked to carry 4,000 gallons of retardant. Again USFS rejected it citing operating costs and its need for longer runways would limit the attack bases it could use. Only a few years later a joint Hemet Valley/Hawkins & Powers proposal for KC-97Ls was funded by USFS for a trial over several summers.
Denny Lynch was active with the Confederate Air Force, flying their aircraft including the B-29 Superfortress. He carried out periodic engine runs of the Lockheed EC-121T Warning Star instructional airframe held by the Helena Montana Vocational Tech. During 1989 Lynch's A-26s starred in the Steven Speilberg movie Always, with Denny standing in for actor Richard Dreyfuss in flying scenes. The filming took place at the tanker strip at Libby Montana.
The unplanned end for Lynch Air Tankers came in 1991 when no USFS contracts were offered. It was an early step in the USFS shift in preferenece for turbine aircaft on ecological grounds, but it was a deep personal blow for Denny Lynch. He had been expecting loyalty and compromises after thirty years of flying each summer for the Forest Service. He purchased a Douglas C-54 N9013V and established Lynch Air Cargo at Billings, but steady work was elusive and the C-54 was later sold to Australia where it became VH-PAF.
Denny Lynch died in Billings 30 December 2005 at the age of 70.
|Lynch Air Tankers' first Douglas A-26 N9452Z tanker #A24. at Billings MT September 1968. Photo by Neil Aird
|Douglas A-26 N4060A tanker #01 at home base Billings MT in October 1981. Photo by Geoff Goodall
N4818E tanker #59 at Billings October 1981.
Photo by Geoff Goodall
|A-26 N4805E tanker #58 at Billings in October 1992.
Photo by Geoff
of Lynch Air Tankers A-26s at Billings in October 1991.
|One of the Lynch spare airframes was N74833, seen at Billings in October 1981. Photo by Geoff Goodall
N74833 at Billings August 1989 after the Lynch maintenance team restored it as a warbird. Photo by Geoff Goodall
|Denny Lynch's On Mark B-26K Counter Invader N4988N at Billings in October 1981, in faded USAF camouflage with
previous Canadian registration, waiting for a rebuild. Photo by Geoff Goodall
| Restored N4988N at Billings in August 1989 after its had been flying with replica ordinance under the wings.
Photo by Geoff Goodall
|L. C. McCurley, Corning California|
L. C. & Grace E. McCurley trading as McCurley's Aero Agriculture, Corning CA
L.C. "Mac" McCurley established a 1950s agricultural business which became an early tanker operator.
During 1958 at least three Beech AT-11 Kansans were purchased for fire bombing. They were fitted with plywood liquid tanks inside the bomb bay area and bomb bay doors removed.
The 1963 USFS tanker allocations list shows L.C.McCurley Ukiah CA: Navy N3N N45177 tanker #E9 based Ukiah CA
After selling their aerial ag business, "Mac" McCurley and his wife Grace managed Corning Airport for many years.
|McCurley's Aero Agriculture's Navy N3N N45177 tanker #9 showing modifications including a more powerful radial engine,
wheel spats and enclosed cockpit.
|Macavia International Corp, Santa Rosa California|
Macavia International Corp, corporate HQ Central Point Oregon
Macavia International Ltd, London Great Britain
Macavia International, Chateau Talaud, Provence France
|Macavia International Corporation was a new company formed to take over the operation and assets of Sis-Q Flying Service, Santa Rosa CA which its founder Bud Davis had placed up for sale during 1984 because of his ill health. The Sis-Q DC-6 fleet ownership was changed to Macavia in May 1985.
President was Alex H. Major.
Macavia's plan was to replace the DC-6 fleet with turbine powered aircraft and expand to offer fire bombing services to overseas countries year round.
To the surprise of many in the tanker industry, Macair selected the Hawker Siddeley HS.748 airliner to be its first turbine type. This entailed modification of a prototype and flight testing to be carried out in Britain and certification by British airworthiness regulators who had no prior experience with air tanker aircraft. Cost overruns, technical issues and bureaucratic delays resulted in the prototype HS.748 tanker never being delivered to USA.
Meanwhile Macavia had continued operating the Sis-Q DC-6 tanker fleet based at Santa Rosa CA and had commenced repainting them in an attractive new Macavia scheme. Director of Maintenance Darrell Floate, formerly with Sis-Q, had earlier tanked Rosenbalm Aviation's first DC-6s in 1972.
In January 1988 Macavia International Corp and Major Aviation Corp merged under the name MAMAC Aviation Corporation. Tanker operations at Santa Rosa continued under the name Macavia International. For the 1990 summer season, no USFS contracts were awarded, grounding the DC-6 fleet at Santa Rose. It was the death blow for Macavia. The entire DC-6 inventory was sold the following year to Sergio Tomassoni of T&G Inc at Chandler AZ, reportedly to finance the purchase of Lockheed C-130A tankers, however Macavia did not resume operations.
|DC-6 N80MA Macavia tanker #20 between fire attack missions at Billings MT in August 1989. This early model DC-6
had been delivered new to Australia for British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines in 1948. Photo by Geoff Goodall
N80MA landing at Billings August 1989 while working a wildfire in the Little Bighorn Mountains. Photo by Geoff Goodall
|N90MA was a sister ship to N80MA, both starting life with BCPA in Australia during 1948. Photo by Geoff Goodall
N666SQ tanker #47 wearing Macavia's new scheme. Only two DC-6s had been repainted before the company folded.
Photo by Geoff Goodall
|C-118B N777SQ was a spares ship held at Macavia's home base Santa Rosa where it is seen in November 1990.
Photo by Geoff Goodall
|Macavia HS.748 tanker G-BNJK being demonstrated at the 1989 Paris Air Show.
The Macavia DC-6 fleet lined up at Chandler AZ November 1991 after the company shut down and sold the DC-6s to
T&G Aviation. All were ferried from Santa Rosa to Chandler, where most were resold. Photo by Geoff Goodall
|Major Air Corp, Tucson Arizona
|At least one B-25 Mitchell operated as a fire attack tanker
|Major Air Corp B-25 N3507G tanker #C05 at Ryan Field near Tucson AZ in April 1967. Photo by Rene Francillon
|Maricopa Dust & Spray, Maricopa Arizona
Aerial agricultural business founded by O.H.Hine operating a variety of single-engined ag aircraft. Three B-25 Mitchells were purchased from USAF disposals in 1958, probably for wide-acre spraying work but at least one was converted to a fire tanker.
Much later in 1972 a Douglas DC-7B was registered to the company, which by then seems to have been owned by fire bombing pioneers Sergio Tomassoni and George Stell operating as Air Tankers Inc.
Callair A-5 N2946G. N6045C, N9961C, N9983C
Snow S-2A N9424R
PA-25 Pawnee N6979Z
Cessna 310C N3309H
|Marsh Aviation Co, Falcon Field, Mesa Arizona
Marsh Aviation Co, Litchfield Park Airport AZ
Marsh Aviation of Yuma, Yuma AZ
Marsh Aviation of Marana, Marana AZ
A large Arizona aerial agricultural business founded before WWII by William O. "Bill" Marsh, Phoenix AZ. Immediately after the war in 1946 William Marsh purchased a disposals P-38L Lighting NC63300 for his personal use. Marsh Aviation was based at Phoenix but associate companies were formed at Yuma and Marana. Bill Marshall was a leading figure in the US aerial agricullture industry.
Many different types of aircraft were owned as dusters and sprayers including early model Stearman C3s. Modifications and improvements to ag aircraft included military disposals Vultee BT-13 trainers being rebuilt as single seat spray planes. The engineering side of the business grew and in the early 1970s the company moved to newly-built premises at Falcon Field, Mesa AZ. Here Marsh Aviation Co concentrated on designing and marketing modifications to General Aviation aircraft and military contracts. A speciality was conversion to Garrett AiResearc turboprop power plants, from single seat Thrush Commander and Ag Cat aircraft to Grumman Tracker and HU-16 Albatross. Marsh Aviation is well known for its contract to rebuild California Department of Forestry Grumman S-2 Tracker air tankers as Marsh S-2F3AT Turbo Trackers. The prototype conversion first flew at Mesa 26 July 1991.
Although Marsh Aviation was primarily an agricultural dusting and spraying business before the transition to aero engineering, it took part in the early days of fire bombing. First trials were with his Boeing 247D N3977C with a liquid tank attached under the belly and tanker number "22" on the fin.
Marsh Aviation agricultural aircraft:
Stearman C3: N659K, N670K
Navy N3N: N44707, N44720, N44738, N44713, N44757, N44837, N44815, N44936, N44951, N44980, N45024, N45027, N45052, N45063, N45064,
N45065, N45068, N45070, N45094, N45162, N45261, N45269, N45300, N45199, N45249, N45012, N45280, N9841Z,
Boeing Stearman: N1345M, N51965, N53025, N53033, N54899, N56383, N56805, N64385, N64386, 68162, N75623, N53131
Vultee BT-13: N62436, N61337
Fairchild PT-19: N37178
PA-25 Pawnee: N6182Z, N6183Z, N6427Z, N7029Z, N7085Z, N4587Y, N4597Y. M4977Y, N8551L, N3085Y
Snow 600 series: N1634S, N1679S, N8506V, N4006K, N5678X, N3652F, N45492
Cessna 180: N7821A;
Cessna 188: N8112A, N9781V, N9825V
SNJ-5 Texan N3735G
Piper J5 Cub N38498
PA-28 Cherokee N5071W
Cessna 150 N6264R, Cessna 172 N5011A
Bell 47 N6755D
As part of the Turbo Tracker program, Marsh Aviation imported a number of retired Japanese Navy S2F-1s which were stored at Falcon Field:
N327MA, N736MA, N746MA, N729MA, N5830H, N5830D, N665MA, N724MA, N737MA, N740MA, N743MA.
|Former Japanese Navy Grumman S2F-1 Trackers in storage at the Marsh Aviation hangar at Mesa AZ, October 1987.
Front aircraft is N724MA ex JMSDF 136724. Photo by Geoff Goodall
| California Department of Forestry Marsh S-2F3AT Turbo Tracker N444DF makes a test drop at Hemet CA in April 2009.
Photo by Neil Aird
|Medford Air Service, Medford Oregon
Medford Air Service, P.O. Box 208, Medford OR
Agricultural spraying business established by 1947 at Medford OR. During the 1950s operated at least two Grumman Wildcats with underwing tanks as sprayers. The comany's engineering section did outside work including civil conversions of military suplus Beech C-45s.
By late 1950s the company was owned by William E. Rosenbalm and was involved in fire bombing operations.
In 1961 the business was reformed under new name Rosenbalm Aviation Inc, Medford (see later)
Aeronca 7AC N1571E
Piper J3C Cub N98771
|Two views of Medford Air Service Grumman Wildcats at Medford 1958 with underwing spray tanks.
Photos: Ron Olsen collection
|Frank Michaud, Hobergs California
Frank Michaud Junior was an ag operator who flew Navy N3N biplanes on USFS fire bombing contracts in teh early 1960s.
1963 USFS tanker allocation list shows Frank Michaud assigned to the Hobergs forestry base with N3N N44972.
|Minden Air, Minden Airport Nevada
Minden Air Corporation, Gardnerville NV
A family business founded in 1990 by Leonard Parker and Janet Sheppardson to operate Lockheed Neptunes as air tankers. The first two aircraft SP-2Hs N299MA and N355MA were purchased from US Navy disposals at Davis Monthan AFB AZ and had civil certification inspections in a contractor's yard on the base boundary, then flown out. They each had a 2,450 gallon retardant tank system installed.
In 2014 when their final Neptune tanker N4692A was damaged in a landing accident, it was not repaired. The company had purchased two BAe146 jet airliners to replace Neptunes, which were being phased out by USFS. Their first BAe146 Fireliner air tanker conversion had made its first flight on 9 June 2013 at Minden but was to fail the Interagency Tanker Board drop tests because of inadequate distribution. The cost of engineering modifications while the company had no operational tankers earning income forced Minden Air into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2016.
Air's first Neptune N299MA tanker #99 at Avra Valley AZ April
Photo by John Chapman
tanker #48 at Boise ID August
Photo by Martijn Koetsier
|Paul Mantz Air Services, Burbank California
Paul Mantz Air Services, Lockheed Air Terminal, Burbank CA
Paul Mant was a pe-WWII Hollywood movie stunt pilot and air racer, who became widely known for his many varied aviation ventures, often publiised with movie stars and entertainment celebrities of the day. Born Albert Paul Mantz on 2 August 1903 in California, he took his first flying lessons at age 16.
During WWII he enlisted in the US Army and served in the Motion Picture Unit. When postwar military aircraft disposals commenced, the flamboyant Mantz made a bulk purchase on 19 February 1946 of 475 bombers and fighters stored at Seary Field, Stillwater Oklahoma for $55,000. He kept 12 for himself and sold the remainder, mostly for scrap metal, "at a handsome profit".
Paul Mantz Air Services at Burbank flew a variety of aircraft from P-51C Mustangs to DC-3s. As well as his flying memorable scenes in many big movies, his B-25 Mitchells and A-26 Invaders fitted with modified camera noses flew around the world making "Cinerama" feature films of natural wonders. Cameras were also extended below the aircraft through the operating bomb bay doors.
With partner, fellow movie pilot Frank G. Tallman, Mantz operated during the 1950-60s as:
Paul Mantz Air Services, Grand Central Air Terminal, Glendale CA, later Burbank CA, later Orange County CA
Tallmantz Aviation, Orange County CA
Movieland of the Air, Orange County CA
Weath-Air Inc, Orange County CA (rain making cloud seeding)
|During 1954 Paul Mantz
Air Services gained a US Government contract to conduct trials using
heavy aircraft for controlled retardant drops on wildfires. Mantz used
his Grumman TBM-1C N9394H Avenger fitted with two plywood tanks each
with a weather ballon filled with slurry retardant. When the bomb bay
doors were opened the balloons split and dropped their contents. After
testing and calibration, this aircraft is credited with making the
first operational water drop on 1 August 1954 on a fire at Jamison near
Lake Elsinor. Media reports credit the first drops to Willows Flying
Service with its Stearman and Navy N3N biplane squadron but that was
the 1955 summer.
This led to Mantz deciding to operate air tankers commercially using Grumman TBMs and B-25 Mitchells. The B-25s were introduced in 1958 in an arrangement with Les Bowman Engineering Co which did the tanker conversions but the aircraft were operated by Paul Mantz Air Services. Fire bombing contracts were negotiated in Venezuala for several summers, involving long ferry flights from California.
Paul Mantz was killed 8 July 1965 while filming the final scene of the movie Flight of the Phoenix when the improvised aircraft constructed from parts of the crashed Fairchild C-82 broke up in flight.
Mantz Air Services Grumman TBM-1C N9394H at Orange County CA in
Photo by J.D.Davis
as tanker #81 with Paul Mantz Air Services.
Photo by Dusty Carter
|Zack C. Monroe, Lancaster California - see CISCO Aircraft
|Moseley Aviation, Phoenix Arizona
Moseley Aviation Inc, P.O.Box Tolleson AZ (1963-1970)
Moseley Aviation, Moseley Aviation Field, Indian School Road & 91st Road, Phoenix AZ
Ernest E. Moseley, 4345 West Cherry Lynn Road, Glendale AZ
|A long established aviation business in the Phoenix AZ area founded by Ernest E. Moseley.
Company operations included aerial agriculture and sales of military
disposals aircraft from US Navy storage at nearby NAS Litchfield Park.
In 1962 a Douglas A-26 was acquired for conversion to fire tanker,
followed by another A-26. Plans to expand the air tanker role seem to
have been dashed by the loss of family member James A. Moseley when his
A-26 was destroyed during a fire attack in June 1964.
Moseley Aviation continued with various ventures, including purchasing a Convair 440 airliner N94436 in May 1975 in Ernest Moseley's name, on-selling it the following year. During 1982 Moseley Aviation purchased six Kaman HH-43F Huskie helicopters and a Grumman OV-1A Mohawk, purposes unknown.
A visit to Moseley Aviation Field, Indian School Road, Phoenix in November 1969 noted the following:
F4U Corsairs (all US Navy surplus): Bu97142, 97264, 97302, 97330, 97349, 97359, 97369, 97390
SNJ-5B Texan Bu91044; Spartan Cruiser N20200, also Weatherly cropdusters.
A 1983 company reorganisation resulted in a revised Moseley Aviation Inc based at Litchfield Park AZ providing aerial cropspraying, later changing to electronics manufacturing business.
|Other aircraft (during 1960s fire tanker period):
Snow 600 N1630S
Cessna 310B N5428A
Howard DGA N22424
Grumman F8F Bearcat N9885C
SNJ-5 Texans N7438C, N9168Z
|The way things were... Mosely Aviation Field near Phoenix AZ November 1969. US Navy surplus F4U-4 Corsairs left over
from a Bob Bean sales deal line the fence, Texans and Weatherley cropsprayers in the backgound. Photo by Gordon Reid
|Multiple Management Corporation, Long Beach CA - see Jim Routh
|Edgar A. Neely, Los Angeles California - see Fastway Air Service
|Neptune Aviation Services, Missoula Montana
Neptune Inc, Missoula Airport, Missoula MT
Neptune Aviation Services Inc, Missoula Airport Montana
A new air tanker business established in 1993 at Missoula MT by well known local businesswoman Marta Amelia Timmons, who owned a Missoula FBO and air charter company Thunderbird Aviation, later Northstar Jet. Her intention was to take over Black Hills Aviation at Alamogorodo NM which was being advertised for sale as an operational concern. The sale included all Black Hills' assets including their Neptune aircraft and spares stock, hangar maintenance organisation at Alamogordo Airport, plus existing USFS contracts. The newly formed Missoula company was named Neptune Inc and the purchase of Black Hills Aviation was successfully negotiated.
The Alamogordo maintenance base was retained with its stock of stored Neptunes still in US Navy markings but operational Neptune tankers moved to a newly-built hangar and admin offices at Missoula Airport. Neptune Inc soon changed name to Neptune Aviation Services Inc.
The quality of the company's heavy airframe maintenance organisation was highlighted when its engineering modification program succeeded in lifting a ban on tanker Neptunes.
However the USFS wanted more modern jet equipment, so Neptune Aviation Services invested in purchasing and tanking BAe.146 airliners with 3,000 gallon retardant delivery systems. They began entering service from 2010. The Neptune tanker fleet was retired at Missoula in a ceremony held on 30 September 2017, after which the company donated and delivered each Neptune to civic groups as air tanker memorials.
Marta Simmons built up Neptune Aviation Services from 30 employees to over 200. She passed away at Missoula on 10 October 2020.
|Neptune Aviation Services SP-2E Neptune N9855F at Redmond OR August 2013. Photo by Lieuwe Hofstra
|Nevadair, Tonopah Nevada - see Charlie T. "Red" Jensen
|North Star Aviation, Fairbanks Alaska
North Star Aviation Corp, P.O.Box 3108, Fairbanks AK
North Star Industries, P.O. Box 3108 Fairbanks AK
Both business had Robert H. "Bob" Schacht as President. He conducted river sanding operations and supported forest and land management agencies before commencing fire bombing with a B-25 Mitchell. The type had been banned from fire bombing by the USFS but Alaskan B-25 operations continued for another 10 years.A Fairchild (Chase) YC-122C Avitruc was leased for a year but lost when power loss forced a diversion to Golovin AK and crash in a lagoon while carrying a load of cement from Galena AK to a DEW Line construction site, 2 crew killed.
|YC-122C Avitruc N122R at Fairbanks AK 10 June 1968 with loading ramp extended. Phtop by Ken Stoltzfus
|B-25D N88972 retired at Fairbanks AK September 1979 still with faded "North Star Aviation" under the cockpit.
Photo by Geoff Goodall
|Ostaire Flying Service, Ukiah California
The 1963 USFS air tanker allocation list shows Ostaire Flying Service assigned to Ukiah CA fire attack base with Navy N3N N45057 tanker #E20.
|P & B Aviation, Red Bluff California
P & B Aviation Inc, P.O.Box 647 Red Bluff CA
|Commenced fire tanker operations at Bidwell Field, Red Bluff circa 1960
with single-seater North American Texan tankers. When USFS ceased
contracting Texan type light tankers after the 1961 summer season, P
& B Aviation continued with Beech AT-11 Kansas and Grumman TBMs.
Operations seem to have ceased in 1967.
Probably connected with Aero Atlas Inc, Red Bluff CA.
|Grumman TBM N8596C tanker #E19 at Red Bluff
Photo by William T. Larkins
|TBM N9711Z at Hollister CA September 1967, just weeks after P& B Aviation sold it to Sis-Q Flying Service
|Pacific Flight Service, Angwin California
Pacific Flight Service Inc, P.O.Box 387, Angwin CA
Owned at least two Douglas A-26s during the early 1960s, one of which N3427G was listed in the aerial fire fighting category in the FAA US Civil Aircraft Register. Another N2852G was operated with fog dispersal spay bars under the wings for several years prior to being sold to Arthur "Wally" McDonnell of Lancaster CA who used it to continue the same work.
|Pacific Flight Service Douglas A-26 N2852G at Arcata-Eureka Airport CA in January 1970, fitted with spraybars for
fog dispersant trials at this airport which had frequent fog conditions. Photo by Gordon Reid
|Parsons Airpark Inc, Carpinteria California
Founded by Louis Parsons, an experienced aviator who built a runway and hangars on the family avocado farm at Carpinteria near Santa Barbara CA.
Parsons Airpark Inc was incorporated as a business in November 1955.
In the early 1960s he quit aviation to concentrate on farming and start a family. The airfield became disused, his daughter remembering as a child playing in the dusty hangar and riding her bicycle on the runway. Louis Parson died in 2013.
Parsons Airpark became an early B-25 Mitchell tanker operator when Louis Parsons purchased two USAF disposals B-25s during 1957-58 for fire bombing. The first N10564 had a 1,200 gallon tanker intalled in August 1958 by AiResearch Aviation, Los Angeles and took part in USFS fire bombing tests. A second B-25 N7687C was tanked in July 1958. The B-25s were operated with a large PARSONS painted on the forward fuselage.
Parson family picture of Louis Parsons in 1960 with a Parsons Airpark truck.
Parsons Airpark T-28A N4221G at Van Nuys CA 1961. Photo by Ed Coates
North American T-28A N3221G sold 10.63 to Will Martin/Maco Sales, Chicago for resale to Nicaraguan air force
|Parsons Airpark's B-25 N10564 tanker #E91 at Santa Barbara CA in February 1962 while on lease to USFS for structural
strength testing following B-25 tankers breaking up during fire attacks. "USFS" is painted on rear fuselage.
Photo by Milo Peltzer