Emergency Back-Up Plane Stationed in Gaylord to Fight Wildfires

With this season’s dry conditions a large fire plane is stationed in Gaylord in case of a wildfire.

The emergency back-up plane is provided by the U.S. Forest Service and it is at the Gaylord Regional Airport in Otsego County.

The aircraft is prioritized daily depending on fire danger across the country right now Northern Michigan is rating right up there as one of the highest priorities in the country partially due to dry jack pine trees.

The amphibious plane is called a “scooper” because it picks up water from a nearby water source.

“Essentially we would make a water landing and we would deploy these probes that’s scoop water into 1600 gallon tanks and depending on the water source the capability of this aircraft could drop tens of thousands of gallons of water on a fire for a four and a half hour fuel cycle,” explains National Amphibious Aircraft Manager Kevin Merrill.

Merrill says water scoopers play an important role by directly attacking a fire where fire retardant is usually dropped in front to reduce intensity and spread.