Ramblings about flying for fun and profit.

Tag: water bombers

Tankers & Jets

It had been almost a month since I had last been to our hangar to check on things. I’ve been flying too much at work lately and the short periods I have been at home have been taken up by time zone recovery. Reno-Stead (KRTS) Fire Bomber Base.

When I drove onto the airport I noticed that the local fire-fighting tanker base was open for business again this year. It probably has been for a month or so. We saw the Neptune making some runs to the south of us today. The weather has been fairly unsettled this week. Every afternoon huge storms have been building along the mountain ridge between Reno and the Lake Tahoe/Truckee area and also down south near Minden/Gardnerville.Lockheed SP-2H Neptune Fire bomber. I would not be surprised if lightning from those storms set off a fire or two. The small aircraft in front of the tanker base are AT-802 Air Tractors. They are used for the smaller fires, while the Lockheed SP-2H Neptune is used for the larger ones.

Added July 16th:

Sikorsky Skycrane fire-fighter.I went out to the airport today to drop something off at the hangar and found a familiar sight on the ramp. It seems that our tanker base has added a Skycrane to it’s line-up.


I visited with a couple of friends at the airport and then dropped some things off in my hangar. On the way out I found that the row of jets normally parked at the Jet parking area.east end of the ramp was now located at the end of my hangar row. Their normal parking area is now used as the ramp area for the Air Tractors.

The first jet in the row, with the 56 on the nose, is officially a Polish SB-LIM2 which is a Mig-15UTI (NATO name "Midget").  It was the Warsaw Pact’s advanced jet trainer.  Except for Poland, the Pact’s  primary jet trainer was either the Czech L-29 (Delfin) or L-39 (Albatross). Polish MIG-15UTI advanced jet trainer.The last three jets in the line are L-29s. The second jet in the line is a Polish LIM-5 also known as a Mig-17. this one is a single-place model. Other than the obvious distinction that one  of these is a 2-place and one is single-place, how do you tell them apart?  If you look at the large version of the photos and note the flow fences on the top of the wings, you will see that the Mig 15 has two fences while the Mig-17 has three.Polish LIM-5 or Mig-17 parked at Reno-Stead (KRTS) airport. That seems to be the easiest distinction to me.

There are detailed entries in Wikipedia for both the Mig-15 and the Mig 17 if you are interested in doing a bit more reading on their histories and capabilities.

Reno-Stead airport is never short on interesting aircraft to look at and photograph – even on a ‘normal’ day.

Reno-Stead Fire-Fighting Base

There have been several thunderstorms in the area the past few days dropping huge amounts of water and spitting out lightning bolts. The lightning has started Air Tractor AT-802 fire fighting water bombera few fires in fairly inaccessible areas and has put our local fire fighters to work. There were two fire-fighting operations  on the east side of the Sierras last year, one in Minden, NV and our local one in Reno at Stead Airport. This year, probably due to budget constraints, only the Stead tanker base is in operation.

We have seen several different types of fire-fighting aircraft at our local base. This first photo is one of the two Air Tractor AT-802 aircraft that are used for the smaller fires. This one is sitting in front of the fire fighter operations building on the east end of our ramp. Lockheed P-3 Orion converted to fire fighting water bomberA few days ago I sat in my back yard and watched one of the Air Tractors and the P-3 Orion Tanker fly back and forth to a fire very near to where their Minden base used to be.; I walked out of my hangar yesterday and both of the Air Tractors flew overhead in close fingertip formation.

Our local base also is home to a Lockheed P2V Neptune that has been converted into a  water bomber. It was out making drops somewhere today. I caught it coming back for a refill as I was leaving the airport tonight. I heard it take off a couple of times, but never noticed the jet noise. Lockheed P2V Neptune converted to fire fighting water bomberThe big radials make the nicest sound anyway. The traffic pattern was pretty full today, but when one of the tanker aircraft needs to depart everybody clears out and lets them get to work.

The past few days we have also had a Huey helicopter, a twin Otter and two squads of fire jumpers/fire fighters staying on the airport. Their equipment identifies them as from the Boise BLM (Bureau of Land Management), probably on temporary duty in Nevada during our fire season.

The last of our resident fire fighting aircraft is the Sikorsky S-64  SkycraneSikorsky Skycrane fire fighting water bomber . It is operated by Erickson Air-crane based in Oregon. One of their other Helitankers (named Elvis) made a big hit at EAA’s AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI this week. The first video below is of their “arrival show” .

As great as it is to see all these aircraft fly, I really hope that this year they spend a lot of time just sitting around.

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