Earlier this year, a friend offered the donation of a large photo collection to the Greater St. Louis Air and Space Museum. My son Jack and I decided to make it into a vacation trip, and fellow The Aero Experience scribe Fred Harl decided to join us on the adventure. To make the most of the time we had, a flight out to Sacramento and a drive home with plenty of visits worked out the best.
Our next stop was the Cal Fire base at Chico, California. The base had two S-2Ts and an OV-10 during our visit, and as we were taking photos, they got a call and headed out to fight a fire.
Next door to Cal Fire is Air Spray, operator of air tankers, now in the process of modifying BAe-146 airliners into tankers. Air Spray also operates the Air Tractor AT-802 "Fire Boss", both on floats and on conventional landing gear, s a SEAT (Single Engine Air Tanker). The Fire Boss can be used as a stand alone asset when it is supported by ground support that consists of a retardant mixer/tank on a trailer. An example of the set up was nearby at the hangar.
Even further down the ramp were two P-3 Orion air tankers basking in the sun. Both had been modified and are operated by Aero Union (who also occupied the hangar facilities that Air Spray now occupies). They are now owned by MAFFS, LLC and kept in flyable storage.