10 Eylül 2014 Çarşamba

Johnson's Flying Service (if you've watched Planes 2, you might like to read this) invented the Smoke Jumpers in 1940

photo by Michael Gallacher of the Missoulian newspaper http://missoulian.com/news/local/wwii-era-bomber-retrofitted-for-firefighting-lands-at-missoula-museum/article_d0b607da-f3c0-11e0-8c43-001cc4c002e0.html

The proud museum's newest addition, a retrofitted, single-engine World War II torpedo bomber, is one that pilots flew and mechanics got in the air and kept there for Johnson Flying Service in the 1960s and '70s.

 The  aircraft that was one of six Grumman TBM Avengers closed out of the Missoula-based flying service in 1974 and sold to Forest Protection Limited in New Brunswick, and spent most of the last four decades spraying Canadian forests for bugs and dropping retardant on forest fires. A-13 first came to Johnson's in 1964 as a replacement slurry bomber http://missoulian.com/news/local/wwii-era-bomber-retrofitted-for-firefighting-lands-at-missoula-museum/article_d0b607da-f3c0-11e0-8c43-001cc4c002e0.html

in the movies Planes and Planes 2, Skipper is a Corsair... not an Avenger, but similar in that they were both warbirds... and I find it cool that they used Avengers as fire patrol airplanes

1917 - At the age of 24, Missoula resident Bob Johnson enlists in the army and is sent to Camp Lewis, Washington. Johnson is discharged less than a year later. Johnson goes into business for himself, opening an automotive service station

1920's 1923 - Missoula’s first landing strip is laid out in May. The field is located near the base of Mount Sentinel, roughly between what is now the University of Montana and South Avenue 1926 - Bob Johnson purchases a Swallow bi-plane for $2500 and continues his flying lessons with instructor Nick Mamer, believed to be the first pilot to ever fly over Glacier National Park. Bob Johnson decides to start Johnson Flying Service to teach others how to fly

 1927 - Bob Johnson, in an interview with a University of Montana journalism student, says he believes airplanes will eventually make regular stops in Missoula. Decades later, that same journalism student, who thought Johnson was crazy for making such an incredible statement, would eventually fly out of Missoula International Airport aboard a large passenger airliner; a group of men meet at the Palace Hotel to discuss Missoula's future in aviation. Missoula, it was felt, needed an airport to succeed. City businessman Harry O. Bell was elected president of the Missoula chapter of the National Aeronautic Association. Their first act was to secure an airmail route to Butte and Salt Lake City; Walter Beck secures a 60-day option on eighty acres of land just east of the Missoula County Fairgrounds. The County officially purchases the 80 acres of land, as well as an adjacent strip to construct an east-west runway. Total cost was $5000. A northwest-southeast runway was later built.

1934 - Northwest Airways inaugurates regular mail and passenger service to Missoula at the Garden City Airport

1938 - President Roosevelt authorizes W.P.A. funds for the construction of Missoula’s third airport. The Missoula County Airport Board purchases 1300 acres of land seven miles west of Missoula adjacent to Highway 10 West as the site for a new airport. Since the Forest Service needed access to an airport, and Missoula County needed heavy equipment to build the new airport, a deal was struck between the two parties. The airport board gave the Forest Service a perpetual easement at the airport site, while the Forest Service granted the use of their equipment for construction. The agreement eventually led to Missoula becoming a major center for aerial firefighting and research. The new airport would feature four runways each a mile or more in length, capable of accommodating any airplane in service at the time. Total estimated cost, including the land, for the new Missoula County Airport: $1.5-$2 million

1940 - July 12, Rufus Robinson and Earl Cooley become the first firefighters to parachute from a Johnson Flying Service airplane to extinguish a fire in the Pacific Northwest Region. On that day, the legendary Smokejumper program was born

1952 - Congress authorizes $700,000 to construct a new aerial fire depot west of Missoula near the new airport; Red Skies of Montana is released in theaters. The film portrays the dangerous lives of Smokejumpers who battle fires in the Pacific Northwest by parachuting into the flames below

1980 - Bob Johnson passes away. "When Bob Johnson was just getting started flying in 1923, aviation and airplanes were considered absolutely a thing for fools, daredevils and irresponsible playboys," said aviation historian Steve Smith of Missoula, whose book Fly the Biggest Piece Back chronicles the history of Johnson Flying Service. Johnson had accumulated over 17,000 hours during his flying career

Info from http://www.flymissoula.com/About_Us/Airport_History

A good thing to read is "What it means to be a Smoke Jumper" from the only survivor of the 1949 disaster. http://www.nifc.gov/safety/mann_gulch/memorial/documents/What_it_Means_to_be_a_Smokejumper_by_Robert_Sallee_1993.pdf

One of the first aerial fire patrol pilots in the northwest was Nick Mamer, a legendary pilot, who had served with the U.S. Air Service during WW I, and later settled in Spokane, establishing the Mamer Flying Service. He taught Bob Johnson of the Johnson Flying Service of Missoula how to fly.

During the time that he flew aerial fire patrols he never experienced a forced landing.  During the period 1925-1935 Forest Inspector Howard R. Flint and Nick Mamer were inseparably connected with the pioneering of aerial activities in the Northern Rocky Mountain Region. Then while flying as a chief pilot for Northwest Airlines on a Lockheed Super Electra during a flight from Seattle to Minneapolis, parts of the tail section were torn from the aircraft about 15 miles northeast of Bozeman, Montana and the plane went into a dive.

Mamer, the copilot and eight passengers died instantly. Later, an investigation revealed that the tail structure had failed on the new design from what is known as "natural resonance, or period of vibration". So ended the life of one of the very first aerial fire patrol pilots in the northwest, a pilot who at one time was known as "Mr. Spokane Aviation".  http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/people/smokejumpers/missoula/History/General/

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