Tankers, Helitack, VLATs, and Slurry Drops | Grizzly Creek Fire Air Attack Spotting AUG-OCT 2020

Hello IFC!
It has been a while since my last topic, but I’m glad to present to you another spotting topic! For those of you who don’t know, Colorado had it’s worst fire season on record with record setting fires and mass destruction. The devastation was something I had never seem before having been living in Colorado for 16 years. Me and my family have had a lot of experience with wildfires, but only one fire from 2002 compares to the Grizzly Creek Fire that swept through over 50 square miles of land only a couple miles from my house and the city of Glenwood Springs. The fire started on August 10 and continues to burn as it hovers around 90% containment. On the day the fire started, our town was enjoying another hot summer day when the fire broke out next to I-70 and exploded through and up the Glenwood Canyon. The only way to slow the fire growth was by air because of the extremely rough terrain. This meant, of course, a lot of tankers and helicopters would be zooming through town. After packing up my belongings and preparing to leave at a moments notice if required to do so, I decided to go see the action from afar. This started what would be about a weeks worth of spotting every day, getting closer and closer as the fire moved away. Our local airport was turned into the helitack command base for the fire, which is where I spent a lot of my time in August helping with setting up the temporary tower and fixing up the airport for the sudden increase in traffic. When I wasn’t helping out, I was taking pictures. Here are just a number of the photos I got. I must say that some of the images are not high quality since I was shooting from a few miles away at certain points. Anyway, here they are:

Tanker 10 (N612AX) dropping on the western side of the fire right above No Name:

Erickson Aero Tanker McDonnell Douglas MD-87 (N291EA) dropping near the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park:

An Aero Union P-3 Orion flying directly overhead on it’s way to reload in Grand Junction:

Another DC-10 Tanker Air Carrier banking back to make a drop on the south side of the fire:

Yet another DC-10 using maximum power to get out of the valley after making a drop near the bottom of the canyon. This was taken from my house and the tanker was probably only a few hundred above me:

The following shots were all taken at the Glenwood Springs Municipal Airport. The first is of N13FH, a Sikorsky UH-60 Firehawk:

Here is a Sikorsky S70A Firehawk:

Since I got to work at the airport, this shot of 6BH was from the grass island next to the runway:

This might just be one of the weirdest helicopters out there! N43HX is a Kaman K-1200 Kmax owned by Helicopter Express:

Lastly, here is N137BH, another Sikorsky S70A taking off to go and drop on the fire:

I would also like to thank all of the firefighters and first responders who protected not only my town from this fire, but our entire state after the fire season we had. You are all of our heroes!

All photos were taken with my Canon Rebel T6

Other Spotting Topics

Golden Skies of Summer | Spotting @KDEN 6/16/20

Close Up with a HH-60 Pave Hawk!

A Change of Scenery | Spotting @KDEN 5/16/20 PART 2

A Change of Scenery | Spotting @KDEN 5/16/20 PART 1

Convincing the Colorado National Guard to Flyover my Town!

Thank You Healthcare Workers! | Special Helicopter Spotting

Private Jets Galore | Spotting @KASE 3/7/20 PART 2

Private Jets Galore | Spotting @KASE 3/7/20 PART 1

On the Hillside | Spotting @KEGE 2/29/20

A Day at Sky Harbor | Spotting @KPHX 2/13/20

Busy Winter Day | Spotting @KEGE 12/21/19

Spotting @KGWS 10/19/19 EAA Rally

Be sure to check out my Instagram! You can view more photos taken by me here: 👇

Thank you for viewing my photos! If you have any comments, feedback, or suggestions, I would love to hear them! Also, comment your favorite below! Stay safe and healthy everyone!


First! @robertine

These are amazing pictures!
Teacher: you can’t hear pictures.



Yeah lol. That was incredibly loud lol.

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oh yes m

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What a lucky moment you got! Stay safe through these fires!

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Thank you! Luckily it seems that our fire season is pretty much over. Unfortunately we are in a really bad drought so a bad or even normal snow season won’t help with next year’s fire season.

Very cool wattsy

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Thank you Tyler 🥰

Gender reveals have been getting a bit out if hand lately 🥲


I think I’ve got a photo of that exact Aero Union P-3 Orion from my backyard. Earlier in the summer there was a couple hundred acre brush fire behind my neighborhood and I was able to grab a photo of some of the planes circling overhead.

As much as it was pretty neat to see some of the other aircraft and helicopters right overhead is was nerve-racking having a fire so close. I’m sure you felt the same way.

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Yeah I was always on my toes. Everyday something new would happen that would make you worry. This fire season was so bad though I hope we don’t have one like that again! So many people were affected.

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@RotorGuy Will enjoy these just as much as i did !!

Love all the shots you took, some really interesting angles and shots with large diversity so well done !!!

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Thank you! I really appreciate it.

Some really stunning shots!

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Amazing pictures, loving the first one🤩.
Nice catches, hopefully next summer will be a rainy one :)

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Whattsup with these photos? They’re amazing!

Hope the fire gets fully contained soon. Thank you to all the first responders and firefighters keeping y’all safe over there.

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