2018 Fire Season Fleet

As the United States once again experience devastating fires, I thought it be fun to discuss what aircraft are being used!

We’ll discuss the different type of fixed wing tankers involved:

Very Large Air Tankers (VLATS)

The Boeing 747 “Super Tanker

(Photo cred to Jeremy Ulloa‎ of Tanker 944 on the Cranston Fire)

The Boeing 747 was just given the thumbs up by the United States Forestry to join the fire inthe 2018 Wild Fire. The Boeing 747 first entered services in 2009. Tanker 944 is able carry 19,600 gallons for 4,000 miles.

(Photo Creds to Steve Whitby, on Cranston Fire)
Tanker 910, 911, 912 and 914 have been extremely busy fighting fires in California, Oregon and Idaho. The DC10s first began operations in 2006 on the “On call” contract. The Tankers are gravity fed, meaning it just falls. The DC10 carries 12,000 US gallons.

Large Air Tankers:

Erickson’s McDonald Douglas MD87s/DC9s

(Photo cred Cy Phonice, On Cranston fire)

Erickson operates a fleet of 6 MD87s/DC9s. These Aircraft are a twin engine aircraft these tankers are certified to carry 3000 gallons while on operations.

Type 1 Air Tankers:

US Air Force MAFFS
(Photo cred Dan Mourhess‎)
The US Air Force Reserve pilots are trained for aerial fire fighting, they train with the 302d Airlift Wing at Colorado’s Peterson Air Force Base, the Air National Guard’s 153d Airlift Wing from Cheyenne, Wyoming, 146th Airlift Wing from Port Hueneme, California, and the 152nd Airlift Wing from Reno, Nevada. MAFFS are Type 1 Air Tanker.

CalFire C-130
(Photo cred: Dante Galletti‎, Tanker 118 CalFire’s first HC130)
CalFire just got authorization from the US Congress to buy 7 HC-130s for their fire fighting.


(Photo cred: James Nelson‎)
The DC-7s are on contract this year via States. Oregon has 2 or 3 DC-7s flying under their contract. The DC-7 can carry up to 4,000 gallons according to Erickson.

Lockheed L-188 Electra
(photo cred pintrest)
This four engine aircraft is the Lockheed L-188. With the ability of carrying up to 3,300 US Galllons.

Convair CV580

(Photo cred: AK Fire Info)

The CV580 is a twin engine prop. With the ability to carry up to 2,100 gallons.

Type II Air Tankers:


(Photo Creds: Cy Phenice On Cranston fire)
We have a BAe 146 Fire Fighting pilot on IFC! The BAe is a four engine jet, with the ability of carrying 3,000 gallons.

CL215/415 “SuperScooper

(Photo Cred Mark Nankivil‎ OSH)
The CL215/415 is a twin engine amphibious aircraft, being able reload from lakes it has the ability of carrying up to 1300 gallons (CL415, 1621 gallons)

Type III:

(photo cred: Jeff Hall‎, the S2 on MVU)

The S2 has served as several rolls, everything from Military operations to now as a fire bomber. This aircraft carrys 1,200 gallons of water/retardant.

Single Engine Air Tankers:

(Photo creds: Randy McMahan‎ of two AT802 SEATS working in Grand Junction CO.)

SEATs are typically Air Tractor 802s designed for aerial fire fighting. These aircraft can carry up to 800 gallons, there is two variants, land base and then the Fire Boss which is amphib AT 802s which has the ability to scoop up water.


OV-10 “Bronco”

(Photo Creds: Johannes Herrmann‎)
The OV-10 mission is to spot fires and call out fire locations for the tankers/SEATs. This twin engine aircraft is crewed by two members.

(Photo Cred Aero Commander)
Just like the OV-10, this aircraft spots and lead aircraft into the area for fires.

King Air
(Photo Cred King Air Magazine)
The King Air is a multi engine, multi crew aircraft. It spots fires and lead large tankers into the fire area (seen here).

Utility fixed wing

Casa 212

The CASA 212 is used to deliver smoke jumpers, (guys who jump into wild fires). With the ability to transport 25 jumpers.


Type 1 Helicopters:

Sikorsky S-61

(Photo Cred: Dennis White‎, fighting the Taylor Creek Fire)

The S-61, a dinosaur still flying to this day, this is consider a Type I helicopter. Being able to carry up to 1,000 gallons OR up to 30 people if need be.

Sikorsky S-64 “Sky Crane”

(Photo cred: Don Hasemeyer‎ working near Gazelle, CA)

The S-64 Skycrane having the ability to carry over 2,000 gallons to fight fires. It take seconds for the Crane to fill up on water and continue on!

Sikorsky S-70 “Blackhawk”

LA County Fire operates the S-70 along with a few other companies. The S-70 has the ability to carry 1,000 gallons

Boeing 234 “Chinook”

(Photo cred: Georg Himmeröder Colorado)
The Boeing 234 “Chinook” is a mutli engine tandem rotor helicopter. With the ability to carry 1,100 gallons with a bambi bucket.

Kaman K-1200 “K-MAX”

(Photo Cred: Rex Thompson‎ on the Coyote fire)
The KMax is a single engine intermeshing rotors, having the ability of carry up to 700 gallons.

Type II Helitack

Bell 412

(Photo Creds: Johannes Herrmann‎ LA County)
The Bell 412 is a twin engine helicopter. Having the ability to carry up to 360 gallons, or 13 passengers if need be.

Bell 212

(My comapny pictures: Tok Fire)
The Bell 212 is a twin engine (Besides a few which are Single Engines) helicopter. Having the ability to carry up to 360 gallons, or 12 passengers if need be.

UH1H/Bell 205A++

(Photo Cred: Dar Ferguson‎ on Stony Fire)
The UH1H/Bell 205A++ is a single engine helicopter, it has the ability of carrying up to 360 gallons.

Bell 407

(Photo Cred: Emily S)
The Bell 407 is a single engine helicopter, with the ability of carrying up to 180 gallons. Or 6 passengers.

Airbus H-125 AStar

The Airbus H-125 (AS350 AStar) is a multi tool helicopter, with the ability of flying 5 passengers, or carrying 180 gallons.

Bell 206 Long Rangers

(Photo credit: BLM Alaska)

The Bell 206 Long rangers have the ability to carry 120 gallons with a bambi bucket. Or 5 passengers if need be.

Spotter helicopters:

Bell 209 “Fire Coba”

(photo creds: USFS)
The Bell 209 is primarily used to spot fires. They have infrared and low light sensors and systems for real time fire monitoring.


Woah. That’s a lot of firefighters 😂

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Been a busy summer! I know out here it’s been nuts lol


Awesome job here man! Have you flown any of these helis on contract for the various companies?

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Not yet, I am hoping next year I can go to fires. I need 1,000 hours for OAS carding for my company.

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God job on the Thread. The fleet is intriguing

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Thanks! It’s an interesting and intense year all over.

Great thread! Although I hope they aren’t needed as much in the future. It’s sad seeing all these fires destroy homes and forests!


I can’t say if they won’t be needed, but thankfully they’re ready to do their best!

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Yeah up her in B.C there some pretty intense fires. But like last year

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Watching the Fire fighting tracking now, see a ton of action over there lol Got some really cool tankers out there!

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Awesome what would you be looking into flying at that point? Also all the best with achieving that!

Hopefully the Bell 205A++ or the 212! If I can’t do that next season I have some options of possibly flying the S55

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Always enjoy your threads, Mark. The fleet is deeply impressive.


Thanks! I like to make interesting threads, and I really like aerial fire fighting so lol

Here’s a cool Go Pro video of a bambi bucket in operation

What I want to do with my life.

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Someone needs to make a fire fleet VA.

Once yea hit 18 man go work for BLM Alaska, they’re always looking for new peolpe.

Already is! Through IFFG though =)

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