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Butler Aircraft to demonstrate fire retardant drop at Airshow of the Cascades Aug. 28
Rod Nichols, Oregon Dept. of Forestry, 503-945-7425
Nan Garnick, Butler Aircraft Co., 541-480-6617
Butler Aircraft Co. will take a brief time out from firefighting this Saturday to demonstrate how a retardant drop is done at the Airshow of the Cascades in Madras. Presenting sponsor of the annual aviation event, the Redmond-based firm will fly a DC-7 tanker plane over the Madras Airport and release its 3,000-gallon payload for spectators.
Butler flies three of the retardant bombers under contract with the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), fighting wildfires wherever they occur in the state. The aviation firm has flown for ODF since 2004, providing crucial air attack on fires that break out on private and state forestlands.
While air tankers are a highly visible element of Oregon’s wildfire suppression force, Butler president Travis Garnick is quick to note that “firefighting is a team effort. It’s not just about Butler Aircraft.”
Wife Nan Garnick, company vice-president and general manager, adds, “Our function is in support of the troops on the ground who really put out the fires.”
In an era of supersonic jets, the lumbering propeller-driven planes seem more at home in a museum than on the fire line. But their high maneuverability and modest airspeed suit the mission perfectly. Flying low and slow over rugged terrain, the converted airliners drop their red-dyed retardant to cool hotspots and slow a fire’s progress. This buys time for ground firefighters to arrive on scene and engage the fire directly.
The Garnick’s are proud of the work they do as well as the contribution their company has made to the industry.
“Aviation is not just our profession but our passion,” Travis Garnick said. “Butler started in 1946 training pilots. We’ve trained a lot of pilots over the years, and they’ve gone into various flying occupations, from commercial to military.”