Greetings from The Aero Experience Team


The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

California Dreaming: The Aero Experience Tour of Cal Fire Tanker Bases - Chico and Hollister

By Fred Harl
By Mark Nankivil
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.

A few days later as we headed south, a late afternoon stop at Hollister found their two S-2Ts and OV-10 sitting on the ramp in the late afternoon light.

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