With South Dakota and other Northern Great Plains States suddenly coming into wildfire season a single engine air tanker has been positioned at the airport at Hot Springs, South Dakota. An air attack platform, a King Air, is also on standby at Rapid City and a Blackhawk helicopter is available from the National Guard base at the Rapid City airport.
We spent a few minutes at the Hot Springs air attack base today and talked with Base Manager Winston Cadotte and pilot Jim Fournier. Tanker 466 is under contract from New Frontier Aviation and is operated by Taylor Aviation.
UPDATE: earlier we identified the aircraft as an Air Tractor 802, but Scott in a comment said it is a Dromader, and we now believe he is right. It appears to be a M-18T Dromader. Sorry for the confusion.
Today I took take a few photos at a grass fire south of Hot Springs, South Dakota, near Angostura Reservoir. Fire departments from Hot Springs, Oelrichs, and Mennekahta responded and had it knocked down pretty quickly.
Returning to Hot Springs, I stopped by the air tanker base at Hot Springs Municipal Airport. Hot Springs is one of five Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT) bases in or near South Dakota. The others are at Pierre, Buffalo, Lemon, Rapid City (which can also handle large air tankers), and Newcastle, Wyoming. Hot Springs is the main SEAT base and is the only one continuously staffed, and is open June through October.
As far as I know, no air tankers were dispatched to the fire near Angostura Reservoir pictured above. Today Tanker 466 was working out of the base and reloaded numerous times as it worked the Sheep Wagon fire (BKF-622) about 10 miles southeast of Newcastle, WY. The aircraft is operated by Taylor Aviation out of Fort Benton, Montana. South Dakota has one SEAT on exclusive use contract this year but has several others available on Call When Needed (CWN) agreements.