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Aug 22, 2013 12:29 AM by David Jay

Air tankers use Billings base for first time this year

BILLINGS - A busy day for air-tankers up at Billings Logan International Airport, As pilots carried out an all out air assault against the Rock Creek Fire.
This week is the first time the Billings Air Tanker Base needed to be open.
Base manager Jim Hassler says the circumstances worked out well, Since the air tanker operation would not haven been available the last six weekends because of the closure for construction.
Three tankers rotated between the airport and over the Rock Creek Fire, on Wednesday.
Two Canadian Conair Convair 580's and one Neptune Aviation Lockheed P2V have been flying out of Billings to drop retardant on the fire south of Red Lodge.
The planes refuel at the Edwards Jet Center and refill with about two-thousand gallons of retardant at the tanker base at the east end of the airport.
With the fire so close. the planes have been making the round trip in about 40 to 50 minutes.
"Any time we have a fire close, we can get planes out there faster and work the fires," said Tyler Crofutt, ramp manager at the air tanker base. "The turnaround times have been great. We haven't had too many pile ups in the pits where we load the planes. Timing has been great and we've been getting planes out there as fast as we can. As for operations tomorrow, i'm not sure where we'll be depending on the progress made out there."
The tanker base loaded up 44,000 gallons of retardant for 21 flights to make drops on the Rock Creek Fire.


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