Medicine Bow National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
2468 Jackson Street
Laramie, WY 82070
After two days of adverse weather that kept our aircraft on the ground, air operations was back at work on Monday. Pilots were eager to get back into the air, but first needed to de-ice their aircraft after last night’s freezing temperatures – a safety step not usually required on a summer wildfire.
The two planes shown in the attached photos are a Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT) and its aquatic cousin, often called a “fire boss.” The Mullen Fire’s air fleet includes four of each type of SEAT, along with multiple helicopters, large “super scoopers,” and fixed-wing planes for our Air Attack supervisors. Because so many aircraft are assigned to this fire, the Wyoming Air National Guard is available to support other fires.
Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs) are nimble aircraft well suited to mountainous terrain. They can carry up to 800 gallons of water or retardant at low altitudes, but at this high altitude they carry less. On this fire, they need only a short time to refill and return to the fire. Our SEATs refill at Laramie, and the fire boss aircraft are scooping water from Rob Roy Reservoir.
A Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT) with floats is commonly called a "small scooper" or "fire boss." It races across the surface of a lake or reservoir to fill its 800-gallon tank, which is in the body of the plane - the floats are empty. Pilots find that the floats get the least resistance when the water surface is not too smooth... not too choppy... but just right.