Air tankers flying again

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BROOMFIELD, Colo. — The sound of the turbo-prop air tankers flying over head generate feelings of ‘help is on the way’ for hundreds of folks being asked to leave and go back to homes near the High Park Fire in Larimer County.

But most of the day, fire officials say they just were trying to assess where best the 30-odd flying rigs should be used. It wasn’t until 3 p.m. that engines roared and planes began taking off, two single man–mini-tankers–then a trio of heavy tankers lifted off, to the joy of aviation buffs who line the fence outside the Jeffco Tanker Base, up in Broomfield.

Over the fire Tuesday, clouds and heavy smoke which could have affected visibility, but officials say mostly it was a day when crews had to determine where and when planes should fly.

“We just want to make sure we put the air craft in the right place to help crews on the ground attack the hot-spots,” said Forest Service’s Rep Rita Baysinger. “For pilots and crew that flew 100 drops Sunday and Monday, having much of the day to rest is not a bad thing.”

Pilot Dean Talley has been flying over wild land fires for some 34 years.

“This is a very large fire and we’ve got some work to do,” Talley said.

He says the most unusual fire he ever had to deal with was when homes in Oakland were burning in 1991.

Tuesday was also a day to get in 36,000 gallons of retardant back into the tanks at the skyport. Planes will fly as much as needed, until they are taken out of the air at a minute to 9PM.

They will be back at it Wednesday, fying top-cover for ground crews.

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