The DC-3... Firebomber?

In 1961 Mel went to work for the Empire State Oil Company as a corporate pilot and sold his interest in Christler-Avery Aviation to Morris Avery, who continued operations as Avery Aviation Inc. In addition to flying a Cessna 310 for Empire State, Mel formed Christler Flying Service (CFS) that same year and purchased his first DC-3, N62374, from West Coast Airlines in 1963. The DC-3 was fitted with sprayer booms and began its long career with CFS. Mel flew the 310, and later a QueenAire and Jet Commander, for Empire State until 1970 when they shut down their flight department and he decided to devote his full attention to CFS. DC-3 N62374 was fitted with a 1,000-gallon belly tank for use as a firebomber. Mel designed the system and the tank could be removed or installed in less than an hour. It was successfully flight tested in 1963 and the FAA issued an STC but the design was never approved by the Department of Agriculture for use on their contracts. Mel is still puzzled over this since they had been kept abreast with the design and testing program and seemed to be very interested in its capability. It’s interesting to note that, forty years later, the Basler BT-67 turboprop DC-3 conversion is in service as a fire-bomber. The picture of Mel’s DC-3 taken in Cody, Wyoming in 1963 looks almost identical to the picture of Basler’s aircraft on their webpage.


That’s really cool. I like seeing picture of older planes that have been use for more than just flying passengers and cargo

1 Like

Well this is… interesting? The dc3 is one of the most versatile aircraft ever to be made, so I guess it’s not a huge surprise they turned some into fire bombers.


This is similar to the 747 being turned into a cargo plane and like most older planes turned into cargo planes like the TU-95 turned into the TU-114 by Nikita Khrushchev in 1953

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 90 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.