Air Attack! Western Wildfire Edition

Shu reached out yesterday to share with us. Turns out, there was a small fire near his home, and the air attack tanker assets were out. And apparently, chasing him.


That’s an AT-802F, a floatplane tanker variant of a plane that was first designed as a cropduster.


That’s just about the smallest fixed wing tanker for firefighting I’m familiar with.


Down here in SoCal, when we have a fire, we tend to contract for the big boy, the Tanker 10 modified DC-10.


In recent years, the use of converted surplus military aircraft has fallen largely due to maintenance and fatigue issues. So a new market has opened for large air tankers for firefighting. And the availability of airframes on the surplus market has led to retired regional airliners being a popular option. For instance, the BAe 146 was a very quiet regional airliner designed to serve airports like London City, and Midway, and other airports with noise restrictions. Moderately successful as an airliner, it has recently been a popular choice for tanker conversion.


Here’s a picture of a dry test taken about 10 years ago.


The fires in western Canada are bad enough right now that Coulson’s JRM Mars might be getting a contract to do some dropping later this week.


5 thoughts on “Air Attack! Western Wildfire Edition”

  1. I see the cropduster version of that first plane ALL the time here in the San Joaquin Valley, killing bugs and such. Really nifty little planes. They wouldn’t take a lot of modification to make a spiffy little COIN light attack plane. Great payload, good strong structure, good endurance. Great low-speed, low-altitude handling. Short & rough field capability.

  2. Thanks for the nod, that plane is nimble to the point of being an rc plane. He just popped in and out feet above the tree line .

  3. We’re getting smoke from our neighbors in the Great White North’s fires down here in our valleys. Have had more than a few smoke investigation calls because of it. I wish I could have gotten a few better pics of the air support during last years Chiwaukum Fire. Espescialy the Tanker 10 when it was on scene.

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