Cal Fire’s Grumman S-2 air tankers perform aerial acrobatics while fighting fires

Cal Fire’s Grumman S-2 100 airtanker flies into position to make a Phos-Chek drop during the Casino Fire Monday, July 13. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo
Within minutes of the sighting of a wisp of smoke in the distance, Anza Valley residents will often witness the arrival of Cal Fire’s Grumman S-2T air tankers speeding over the hills from their base at Hemet-Ryan airport. The aircraft perform aerial acrobatics as they maneuver around smoke and water-dropping helitack units to plaster Phos-Chek fire retardant on the flames. The Cal Fire air program is one of the largest firefighting organizations in the world. The fleet is made up of over 50 fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft strategically located throughout the state at Cal Fire’s 13 air bases and nine helicopter bases. Cal Fire first began using air tankers in the 1950s when agriculture spraying planes, commonly called crop dusters, were used to drop water on wildland fires. In
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