Monday, February 23, 2015

Last season for last DC-3 smokejumper aircraft - Jump 15

Earlier today, I read that this is the last season for the last DC-3 smokejumper aircraft, see Bill Gabbert's Fire Aviation Blog (February 22, 2015) and an article (February 21, 2015) from the Missoulian. Here is passage from the Missoulian February 22nd article where I got a sense of how much she is loved by her pilots and passengers.

“It has been flying since my grandpa was in the Army Air Corps,” smokejumper Colby Jackson said as the big plane’s engines howled through a pre-season test run. “He always gets a kick seeing pictures of us with the DC-3. He was stationed with them in Africa, when they were C-47s.” 
Jump-15 (its radio call sign) is the last DC-3 still hauling smokejumpers and backcountry cargo for the U.S. Forest Service. Pilots love her ability to land and launch from tiny forest airstrips, her muscle and endurance. Jumpers love her big exit door and reputation for reliability. With room for 16 parachute-strapped firefighters and all their gear, Jump-15 has twice the capacity of any other jump plane on the runway.
And in the 2005 video below at about marker 1:45 Smokejumper Skodt Jones talks about one of the DC-3 smokejumper aircraft (not sure which one). Jump 15's sister, Jump 42 retired a couple of years ago. I wrote about the DC-3 Smokejumpers on December 31, 2010.




Jump 15, I have never had the privilege of meeting you in person. I know that you are loved. You have served long as well as a smokejump aircraft. I wish that I knew how many missions you flew and where. You are almost 70 years old, wow. I wasn't born yet. A lot of us weren't born yet. You are a special lady, the last one of your kind flying as a smokejumper aircraft. I wish you, your pilots, and your smokejumpers in this your last season. Be safe. 

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