DC-10 Tankers Base at Castle Airport

By Scott Malta 

The US Forest Service has found that large forest fires call for a lot of air assets and the DC-10 aircraft operated as an aerial water/retardant bomber is the largest air platform in regular use. The 10 Tanker has found itself shoe-horned into some airports where there isn’t much room for them to operate. However, such is not the case with their new and current base of operations – Castle Airport in North Central California.  

After many years of advocacy, calls, on-site visits, etc., Castle Airport Management and the FBO, Gemini Flight Support have seen their efforts recently come to fruition. A few months ago the US Forest Service began discussion with Castle Airport officials to create an as-needed reload base, specifically for the 10 Tanker on Castle Airport’s North Ramp. As the discussions were in progress, the “Rim Fire” broke out near Yosemite National Park on August 17th. After using the 10 Tanker from other airports, the Forest Service requested the use of Castle Airport. In just a couple of days and with a newly signed use agreement, the Castle Fire Tanker Base went operational on August 27th. 
According to a Fox News report at 6:45am PST, the Rim Fire had consumed 187,000 acres and was only 20% contained. Later that day the first of two 10 Tanker DC-10s arrived to operate from Castle Airport. Both aircraft flew several drops from Castle which has saved the aircraft approximately 120 miles round trip from their previous operating location.