Cal Fire’s air tanker Grumman S-2 is an aggressive tool to battle wildfires

One of Cal Fire’s Grumman S-2 airtankers drops Phos-Chek onto an out-of-control blaze. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo
Within mere 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 in Hemet. 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 wild
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