The photo you see below is of a SEAT (Single Engine Air Tanker) — two of them, in fact — based at Wickenburg Municipal Airport. And that gray stuff in the sky in the right side of the photo is smoke.
Wickenburg is fortunate again to be chosen as a base of operations for State Fire. There are currently two SEATs based at Wickenburg Airport with two crews on standby every day. When they get a fire call, the pilots don their flight suits and take off, delivering a load of fire suppressant mixed with fertilizer to the fire site.
This photo shows both airplanes in action yesterday afternoon. You may not notice the hoses attached to each plane, but they’re there, filling the planes with fluid to drop on the fire. They made several trips to and from a fire out in the Whispering Ranch area south of Wickenburg. There were actually three planes assigned to the fire; these are only two of them.
By having these planes so close to Wickenburg, the town is assured that fires out in the desert this summer will get prompt attention. With this summer predicted to be one of the worse low desert fire seasons in years, that’s a good thing.
You can see the SEATs for yourself — and talk to the crews, if they’re not busy — at Wickenburg Airport any day of the week. The crews are friendly and the planes are downright cool. Check them out for yourself!
June 9, 2005 Update
The fire crews were busy on the afternoon and evening of June 8, fighting the “Bobby Fire” on the east side of Vulture Mine Road, down near the proving grounds. At one point, five SEATs were operating out of Wickenburg Airport, bombarding the blaze with fire suppressant. By nightfall, the fire was out and did not come to life the next day.
Jim Cook sent us this photo he took on June 8 with a note:
Attached is a photo I took this afternoon, when a woman was detaching the slurry hose from the plane (I’m guessing).
I worked my way through college fighting fire, so I wouldn’t ever have to fight fire anymore.