Fire & Aviation

Retirement of DC-3 Aircraft

DC-3 BT67

On October 24, the Intermountain Region and members of the community celebrated the 42 years that the DC-3 proudly served the Forest Service. This DC-3 has meant a lot to us in the Forest Service, to the men and women who jumped from the airplane, to the pilots who flew the plane and to the maintenance crews who kept the aircraft flying safely.

This historical photo was taken of four DC-3 planes flying over a mountain range.The DC-3 was built in April of 1943, making its aircraft age 69 years old. It served with the 9th Air Force during World War II in Belgium and the Netherlands. Sometime after the war, N100Z was obtained by the FAA where it saw considerable flight as a general use plane in Alaska.

In 1970, the Forest Service obtained the N100Z from the FAA, making it the 3rd DC-3 to enter the Forest Service fleet. In August of that same year, N100Z saw it’s first fire jump. NZ100Z would be used regularly in McCall as a jump platform alongside another DC-3, N146Z.

In April 1991, N100Z became the first DC-3 in the Forest Service fleet to be converted from piston to turbine engines, increasing speed, payload, and reliability.

This photo shows the DC-3 before turbine conversion and new paint and a man standing next to it.Photo of the DC-3 after it received a turbine conversion and new paint, three men standing near it.

The DC-3 was re-identified as N142Z after being retrofitted with turbine engines.

This is a photo of three smokejumpers getting ready to jump from the DC-3.Although the principal use of the DC-3 was for fire support, it also served very well in the performance of missions of many types, including fire crew and fire cargo hauls, agency inspection and escort missions, relocation of peregrine falcons from Fort Collins to Boise and in 1979, we were contracted to drop the “Leapfrogs”, the US Navy Parachute Team into the Idaho State Fair after their airplane had crashed in Samoa. But the principal utilization of these airplanes was as Smokejumper & Para cargo platforms, and the majority of flying hours were logged performing these missions. 

The last fire that was jumped out the aircraft was to the 8 mile fire on October 1st of 2010. The last jumpers out of the plane on that fire were Mikovitz, McCoy, Cooper, Childs, Sonricker, Dealaman, Freidrichs, Belton, Hasty, Harris, Kolb, and Smick. And with Pilot Hatch, CoPilot Disch and Spotter Haynes and Assistant Spotter Class.

The DC-3 proudly served the Forest Service for 42 years.

This is a photo of the DC-3 sitting idle on the tarmack.