~PART 1 | PART 2~

Copyright Ruud Leeuw Photos © R.Leeuw

Taking my chances on the autumn weather I decided to do a roadtrip in the US Northwest in october. The route started and ended in Portland,OR with Greybull,WY at the far end. Main points of interest, for aviation, were Seattle, Arlington, Missoula, Greybull, Nampa and Madras - with quite a few stops en route for one or two aeroplanes 'in residence'.
The weather cooperated beyond all expectations and I was met by a lot of shared aviation enthusiasm.

"The roads you travel so briskly
lead out of dim antiquity,
and you study the past chiefly because
of its bearing on the living present
and its promise for the future."

-Lt.Gen. James G. Harbord, U.S. Army (1866 - 1947)



Coeur d'Alene
Brooks Seaplane Base, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

Coeur d'Alene
deHavilland DHC-2 Beaver N2106K at the dock in downtown Coeur d'Alene.W

Coeur d'Alene

Coeur d'Alene

DHC-2 N2106K c/n 1131
Delivered 02Aug1957 as 56-0396 to the US ARMY. Served as a (type) U-6A at Sembach (Germany) in 1964 and for HQ Battery (?) 94th Air Defense Artillery at Kaiserslautern.
At some point registered N93440, but it remained in Europe, heading for Norway as LN-KCQ, registered for A/S Norving (based at Kirkenes).
Its Certificate of Airworthiness was reg'd 22May1974.
Bergen Air Transport AS at Sola was reg'd as operator on 03Mar1980. When operated by Transit Air LN-KCQ suffered a mooring accident at Tonstad, Sirdal (still in Norway), in 1981.
Reg'd 18Feb1982 for Transit-Air AS of Sola. This lasted a few years, until its registration changed on 15Feb84 for Lyslid Flyservice of Hamar; but this was cancelled soon after: 19Mar84.
This Beaver went across the border, into Sweden, for Fjäll-Flyg i Kiruna AB of Kiruna, in the high north of Scandinavia. It was reg'd SE-INX on 03May84.
Then to Heli AB of Malmskogen (Linköping,Sweden), but this was again cancelled on 08Aug1989.
Then a change of owner and scenery: it was reg'd N2106K for Wipaire conversion (A/W 14Jun1990).
And thus registered to the present owner on 29Sep93, to William R. Brooks / Regia Brooks / Brooks Seaplane Service Inc. of Hayden Lake - Coeur d'Alene,Idaho.
From, which also has many images supporting the above.

Coeur d'Alene
UPDATE 05Jul20: 'A DHC-2 Beaver and a Cessna TU206G experienced a mid-air collision and a subsequent impact with
the waters of Lake Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Both airplanes sustained unreported damage. All 8 occupants on board both
aircraft are feared dead.' ¬ I am assuming the DHC-2 is N2106K, awaiting confirmation.


Missoula - Neptune Air Tankers

On a sunny but cold morning (Oct 18th), before visiting the museum, I noticed these stored Neptune airtankers at the end of the Whipporwill Drive, stored in the most remote corner possible. The ramp here is a recent development.
These stored P-2 Neptune's represent the propeller-driven Lockheed tankers whose days are numbered.
The offices of Neptune Aviation Inc are on 'air side', requiring passing a fence. It was a saturday and I did not bother ringing the bell, expecting no result. Besides, the focus was on the visit to the museum and after that we had a considerable distance to cover. Glad with the results I was able to get.


Missoula - Neptune Air Tankers
The flag of Montana proudly displayed.

Missoula - Neptune Air Tankers
T12 = N96264 (c/n 426-5192), BuNo 128346. Reg'd 13Sep93 for Neptune Aviation Services.

I received the following information from Dan Snyder, Chief Operating Officer of Neptune Aviation Services:
"The original assignment of 'T12' was a B-17 years ago.  The second assignment of that tail number was to N96264. 
'264 has been retired due to the low life remaining on the airframe; as you can see she has been donating parts to keep other ships flying. 
The tail number was moved to our company training/spare (N410NA) P-2 last year. 
Since the USFS has given us a new block of tail numbers there has been some conversations about moving T12 to a BAe and assigning a new number to N410NA (became Tanker 14)."


Missoula - Neptune Air Tankers

Missoula - Neptune Air Tankers

Missoula - Neptune Air Tankers
Tanker 10 = N4235N (c/n 726-7158), ex/ BuNo 144681

Joe Baugher's website offers: Lockheed P2V-7 Neptune (redesignated P-2H in 1962).
BuNo. 144681 (c/n 726-7158) listed as P2V-7S from Jan 1960. Struck off charge (SOC) 29May1978 and
stored at Tucson's MASDC as 1P0372 28Aug1974. 08Jun1981 again reported as MASDC, this time as PA0001.
FAA's website N-inquiry has: Registered 13Sep93 to Neptune Aviation Services, Missoula,MT.
Reported substantially damaged at Billings,MT 14Aug07.
In april 2012 it was reported they found upon inspection a wingspar crack in Neptune's Tanker 10. End of story.

Well, not quite end of story.. The following was published (no name) on Yahoo's 'Airtankers' forum (june 2017)-
"Great news out of Missoula,MT on Tuesday (6-20) as Neptune Aviation has finished up restoring P2V Tanker #10 in prep for her final place to greet all passengers arriving at Missoula Airport!
On Tuesday she was towed to her final display spot, looking as good as ever.
Tanker #10 dropped during her career with Neptune 11 million gallons (!) of retardant before she was retired in 2012. After a 24 inch crack was found in a wing spar and skin, Neptune decided not to repair her and she has sat at Missoula's airport ever since.
Neptune is planning a retirement style appreciation of the P2V at the end of this season, which sadly is the last for the Neptune and very close to being the end for radial engined air tankers in the U.S."

And this is how Tanker 10 (N4235N) has been preserved at Missoula's airport; photo credit: Greg Lee (june 2017)
Tanker 10 preserved at Missoula's airport (by Greg Lee)

Missoula - Neptune Air Tankers
This is odd: another Tanker 12!

By deduction I considered Tanker #12 to be N410NA; Bill Bailey confirmed this (below).
"N410NA was reg'd 15Feb2011 to Neptune Aviation Svcs Inc. Not many images to be found but one seems to have the same off-standard nose colours, but is missing the lightning flash seen on my photo above; compare: (aug.2013).
N410NA is former Evergreen N206EV T145, so now Neptune's new T12."

Bill Bailey wrote me:
"There are 2 Neptune tankers with the fleet number '12'. The one partially disassembled has been retired and is being parted out.
The other is used for training new pilots and is not used on actual fires. Its tailnumber is N410NA"
Dan Snyder, COO Neptune Aviation Svcs wrote me and confirmed the same, although 'T12' maybe considered for a BAe 146 Tanker (read elsewhere on this page).

From another source: 'N410NA operated as Evergreen Tanker #145 N206EV until the late 1980's. She was placed in storage at Evergreens Marana Air Park, where she remained until 2011; she was then purchased by Neptune Aviation, along with sister ship #142 N203EV.
She carried the number #410 under the cockpit Neptune Aviation logo during her time as a trainer.
In 2014 she became Tanker #12 for the later part of that season, before becoming current Tanker #14 in 2015. The fire retardant tank from the old Tanker 12, which retired after the 2012 season, was re-used to convert N410NA to a fully equipped firebomber. That particular conversion probably took place in late-2013 / early-2014'.

N410NA was operational in 2016 but it didn't have it's own fire fighting contract, instead acted as a spare. In Feb.2017 its role for the new season was as yet unclear; beyond 2017 the fate of all the P2V Neptunes are in the balance.


Missoula - Neptune Air Tankers
Another view of the duplicate Tanker 12, from the Neptune Inc gate.

Neptune still has 3 years left on a contract to fly P2V propeller-driven tankers and one BAe-146 jet-powered slurry bomber. A one-season contract for 3 of the company's jet tankers has expired.
Now it is fingers crossed for how many of Neptune's 6 total jet tankers will have work next year.
The piston airtankers are on the way out, so much is clear, and Neptune has invested heavily in these BAe-146 (a.k.a. Avro RJ85) jet-powered slurry bombers: will they be rewarded with contracts for their investments?

This was published in Jan.2017 on Firebombers (Yahoo) forum:
"This upcoming fire season (2017) will be the last year of the 'Legacy' contract which included the six remaining P2V's operated by Neptune Aviation.
Sadly the P2V's do not meet or qualify for the 'Next Generation' specifications and it does not look like the USFS will extend the 'Legacy' contract.
With the 747 coming on line, and two more BAE-146's from Neptune, the future looks very bleak for the P2V.
The P2V is currently the longest serving large airtanker in the history of aerial firefighting.
At the end of this season (2017) the P2V will have served for 48 years as a firebomber, since the first drop on an active fire by N126Z operated by Rosenbalm Aviation on 24Nov1969.
The only active large Tanker that may surpass the Neptune in time served will be the DC-7, which can equal the 48 years in service in 2020, if they survive that long."


Missoula - Neptune Air Tankers
This is what the future may look like: BAe 146 Srs 200A N474NA (c/n E2084), reg'd 14Jan2014

Feb.2017 UPDATE! Dark cloudes on the horzon for the P2V Neptune Firebomber!
This upcoming fire season (2017) will be the last year of the 'Legacy' contracts, which included the 6 remaining P2V's operated by Neptune Aviation. Sadly the P2V's do not meet or qualify for the Next Generation specifications and it does not look like the USFS will extend the Legacy contract.

With the 747 'Global Supertanker' coming on line, plus two more BAE-146's from Neptune, the future looks very bleak for the P2V...
The P2V is currently the longest serving large airtanker in the history of aerial firefighting. And at the end of the 2017 season the P2V will have served for 48 years as a firebomber since the first drop on an active fire by N126Z operated by Rosenbalm Aviation on 24Nov1969.
The only active large airtanker that may surpass the Neptune in time served will be the DC-7, which can equal the 48 years in service in 2020 if they survive that long.
Once again some special sounds of actively operated 'propliners' will disappear into history!
An unconfirmed count of P-2 Neptunes active in 2016 were 6: #05 (P2V-5) #06 (P2V-5) #07 (P2V-5)
#43 (P2V-7) #44 (P2V-5) #45 (P2V-7). See my page Airtanker Id's for tailnumbers belonging to these aircraft.

This is a Feb.2017 statement from Neptune Aviation: "Despite our best efforts, nothing has panned out with state contracts. I suppose that remains a possibility, but it's doubtful.
Our plan is to accommodate some of the many requests from a variety of non-profits (mostly aviation museums) and keep 2 operational for air shows."

The following was published on (25May2017)-
"Neptune Aviation's latest BAe-146 Tanker #15 N477NA became operational and is reported at Cedar City,Ut tonight (5-25).
This makes it the 8th BAe-146 operated by Neptune; current fleet consists of the following aircraft:
#01 N473NA
#02 N474NA
#03 N475NA
#10 N472NA
#12 N476NA
#15 N477NA
#40 N146FF
#41 N471NA
Neptune should have at least one more aircraft converted soon, this should be Tanker #16 N478NA.
Sadly with this number of jets the company can finally retire their P2V Neptunes. The Jet Age is truly here and with the retirement of the remaining Neptune aircraft at the end of this season only the DC-7 will remain as the only large reciprocal Tanker... but whose days are numbered as well."

Missoula - Smokejumpers
Short SH3109 N179Z, reg'd 26Mar91 to USDA Forest Service (mfr 1985)

In a corner of the airport sit a number of stored aircraft. A small road leads up to it, passing through what looke like a trailer park or semi-permanent housing (my mind was on the planes I was trying to get to, so I was less observant on the houses). But
that road leads to a fence with trees obscuring the view and there is no gate, so no need to go there. Instead, circle around, via
W Broadway Street and drive up to that building (an abandoned -it seemed- church) and ignore the 'No Tresspassing'-sign.
In the morning light I had the sun working against me, but the high fence gave me more problems for decent photography.
Missoula planes storage
The Fairchild F-27F is an odd one here but those four SP-2H's must have been meant for parts, for Neptune's airtankers.
Those SP-2H's were all reregistered last year, details on this further below.

Fairchild F-27F N222DG (c/n 31), ex/ Empire Airlines Inc (of Coeur d'Alene,ID).
N222DG was donated to Museum of Mountain Flying in March 2003.

Lockheed SP-2H N63819 (c/n 726-7215) ex/ BuNo 147965
Joe Baugher: "to MASDC for storage -marked as 1P0389- 13Aug1975, officially struck off charge (SOC) 29May1978.
N63819 reg'd 15Jun99 to Neptune Aviation Services." And reg'd 16Apr2013 to Richard P. Nash (of Missoula,ID)

See above. Due to the high fence and the building in my back I could only shoot a front and an aft section of this one.

Lockheed SP-2H Neptune N949RR / 147949/PJ-3 (cn 726-7199) stored for many years here now, and
also reg'd 15Apr2013 to Richard P. Nash. Baugher: "remained with Lockheed until Apr 1962, probably for conversion
to P2V-7S, and listed as such from Jan. 1960. To MASDC as 1P0411 on 22Sep1976, SOC 01Apr82."
From my files:N949RR had been reg'd 05May98 to Neptune Aviation Services, ex/ Aviation Classics.

N714AU, details see below. Another one too close to the fence forcing me into a fore and aft shot.

Lockheed SP-2H Neptune N714AU ex/ BuNo 148339 - also reg'd 15Apr2013 to Richard P. Nash.
Joe Baugher: "Lockheed P2V-7S Neptune - Redesignated P-2H in 1962.
148339 (c/n 726-7224) to MASDC as 1P0384 on 20Jan1975, SOC 01Apr82.
To N339L Oct 1986. To Neptune Aviation Services, Missoula, MT as N714AU."
N714AU was a project two years ago for 'NAMBP', Barbers Point museum?
Service details:

Lockheed SP-2H N362RR (c/n 726-7260) ex/ BuNo.148362
Joe Baugher: "(c/n 726-7260) to MASDC 14May1977, SOC 29May78." Reg'd 15Apr2013 to Richard P. Nash
From my own files I have a note that N362RR has (on other side?) titles 'University of Nevada Reno' & 'Fire Science Academy'.

Stan Cohen, former director of the museum wrote me these lines:
"Those 4 P2Vs on our boneyard were given to the museum by Neptune Aviation years ago. The museum was going to scrap them but Rick Nash, who also built our hangar, bought them from the museum and he moved them to the yard and built a security fence.
The 1979 F-27 was donated to the museum by Empire Aviation years ago. There are no plans to do anything with these aircraft at this time."

Dan Snyder, Chief Operating Officer of Neptune Aviation Services wrote me in Dec.2014:
"The 4 P-2s that are owned by Mr. Nash were Neptune aircraft 10 years ago or so. 
Neptune elected to remove them from inventory donating them to the local museum here on the field.  The museum could not do anything with them and were thinking of salvaging the aircraft.
Mr. Nash, being the aviation enthusiast he is, took over ownership. 
If you use Google Maps and look back in history you will see those airframe on our ramp years ago."


Aviation Museum, Missoula
To read my report on MY VISIT see HERE...



Lockheed Constellation stored at Helena, MT

Driving from Missoula to West Yellowstone I decided make a detour to see if Helena (KHLN) resident Lockheed EC-121T Constellation 52-3417 (N4257L) was still present or had moved to California (as was rumored to have been in the works). It has been here since 1981!
Well, it was still there.

The Evergreen Air and Space Museum had acquired this aircraft in May 2009 but plans to restore and fly this warbird to its McMinnville (Oregon) museum facility never came to fruition.
Before that this EC-121T Constellation had been used by the Helena College, University of Montana, for training technicians. The aircraft was towed from the school's property after they had no use for it any more, but maybe some training continued because the move to the museum was given up on.
When Evergreen went belly up, this effected the museum too and several aircraft have been sold off.
52-3417 was to go to Castle AFB Museum, but they don't seem to be in a rush...
How this all came about is explained on (21Feb2014 update)


Lockheed Constellation stored at Helena, MT
What is the purpose of that van parked there? Those engines I have seen opened on photos dated 2010.
Cockpit and interior images (2009):
In a 2014 update was written, and photos show proof it, that the rudders were missing. This was 18Mar14. My photo shows at least one has been replaced. So work has been done on it and that is hopeful!

This history from Ralph Pettersen's
  • Final registration - N4257L
  • Delivered to USAF September 1954 as RC-121D 52-3417
  • Redesignated EC-121D October 1963
  • Redesignated EC-121D/T
  • Redesignated EC-121T August 1970 but upper radome not removed
  • To USAF Reserves at Homestead AFB, FL June 1974
  • Retired and flown to Davis Monthan AFB for storage March 1976
  • To Helena Vocational Tech Center, Helena, MT March 1981 as N4257L
  • Ferried to Helena, MT early July 1981 with Frank Lang in command
  • Used for training at the Helena College of Technology's Department of Aviation Maintenance Technology. Engine run-ups performed regularly until early 1990ís
  • School still using aircraft for training until at least the mid 2000's
  • Declared excess to school's needs and school looking for a new home for aircraft in November 2008
  • Evergreen Air and Space Museum acquired aircraft in May 2009 and plans to make it airworthy and fly it from Helena to McMinnville, Oregon
  • Aircraft evaluated in July and cleanup began in September 2009
  • Two week inspection in May 2010 revealed aircraft to be in generally good condition
  • No further work undertaken between 2010 and 2013
  • Evergreen Airlines filed for bankruptcy December 31, 2013, forcing museum to cancel plans to move aircraft
  • Acquired by Castle Air Museum January 2014

    August 2017 update on my Friends & Guests (51), a move to California could be imminent.

    And here we have the giants of Worldwide Aircraft Recovery on transport with EC-121T Constellation 52-3417!
    EC-121T Constellation 52-3417
    Late Sep.2017 and on its way to Castle AFB Museum in California!

    See my CALIFORNIA 2018 report, how it's found preservation at Castle AFB





Greybull aviation museum
First stop the museum. But note that line of stored 'propliners' in the far distance. I could not wait to go there!

Greybull stored propliners and aircraft salvage yard
N132HP and a few other Hercules airframes in various stages of undress.

Greybull stored propliners and aircraft salvage yard

Greybull stored propliners and aircraft salvage yard

For more extensive reporting see my two pages:



Warhawk air museum, Nampa, Idaho
When driving on the I-84, heading for Boise,ID I noticed a sign for this museum. The next day I was sure to
visit the Warhawk Air Museum in nearby Nampa. I could just squeeze a 'quick' visit in. And a wise decision it was.

Warhawk air museum, Nampa, Idaho

Warhawk air museum, Nampa, Idaho




McCall, ID

McCall, Idaho - propliners
The Southside Grill in McCall: when you see a scene like this you know that as an aviation enthusiast you've come to the right place!

McCall, Idaho - propliners

McCall, Idaho - propliners
Some aviation history at McCall on the wall inside the restaurant.
The DC-3 in the background has 'Johnson Airlines' titles. The plane on the left is a Douglas DC-2. This could be
the now preserved NC1934D, which then flew registered N4867V, fitted out as a sprayer and was also used as a
smoke jumper platform, to drop parachutists near large fires. Its history is well documented on and the DC-2 is on display at the Museum of Flight in Seattle,WA
as 'NC13711'. You'll find a 2017 photo of DC-2 NC13711 on my Photos by Friends & Guests (50).

McCall, Idaho - propliners
Recalling my visit a week before to the Museum of Mountain Flying, this photograph of Johnson's Flying Service NC9642 was quite appropriate! This Ford 4-AT-E Tri-Motor NC9642 was damaged beyond repair on 19Jun1956 near
Townsend,MT when the left engine ran rough and fell off (!) during a crop dusting flight. The pilot managed to
control the plane and carried out an emergency landing at Middletown, NY. (Aviation Safety Network ASN Report)

McCall, Idaho - propliners
After a nice lunch we checked the rather empty ramp here at McCall and was pleasantly surprised to find N43GL
here; this immaculate looking Grumman HU-16A (ex/ BuNo.142360) was registered on 29Oct2013 to Cohen Aviation
Leasing LLC (Park City,UT). Some history details from my files: Participated in England to Australia Race (departed
Biggin Hill 10mar01 to Sydney). Has attended the 'Albatross Meets' at Lake Mead,NV regularly. Some time based in
Santa Clarita,CA when owned by Lonny McClung/Accessory Service Inc. Registered on 08Jan08 to Catalina Flying Boats
of Long Beach,CA and sighted (Feb.2009) at Long Beach Airport (South Side) and Chino,CA (March 2011). Again
reregistered on 22May2012 to R Consulting & Sales Inc of San Diego,CA. And now owned by Cohen Aviation.

McCall, Idaho - propliners
But the reason why I detoured through McCall was this DC-3, hiding in the bushes!
There is a big USFS base at McCall's Bowen Field and the DC-3/C-47 is located just across the road.
It may have been an ex-USFS smoke jumper, dumped there. Better read on..

McCall, Idaho - propliners

McCall, Idaho - DC-3
It was suggested that this green paint may have been the water-based paint they use for movie work? If so: what movie?

McCall, Idaho - DC-3
Below is a link to a photo on which shows the insignia worn as part of the US Army livery.

McCall, Idaho - propliners
Reappearing: the old USFS C-47s had an orange stripe.

McCall, Idaho - propliners
All major parts appear to be on site, have been for years. Wings are onsite, but just laying on the ground here.
Other odds and ends seem to be crated and stored onsite.

McCall, Idaho - DC-3
The aircraft's upper fuselage is white and marked 'UNITED STATES ARMY' in black.

McCall, Idaho - DC-3
The wheels are sitting on a metal stands to keep the tires off the ground and the metal stands are placed on small
concrete pads (poured specifically for the aircraft). A project that never took off.

McCall, Idaho - DC-3

McCall, Idaho - DC-3

For a winter (march 2018) photo & update of 07220 see Photos by Friends & Guests #53, look for Lars Lamb!

McCall, Idaho - DC-3
The following was learned from a posting on c/n 13318- Built for USAAF as 42-108947.
To USNavy as R4D-5 17220. Redesignated C-47H in 1962. To US Army as NC-47H in 1967 and assigned to
Fort Huachuca, AZ. Painted as '0-7220', derived from its former USN serial (no fiscal year assigned).

This (undated) link offers some information on the last stages of its career:
(link no longer valid): "We are reassembling an R4D5 to static display as the featured attraction of the 'DC-3 High Adventure Club'. The club will be located in McCall, Idaho serving as a base for outdoor activities in the beautiful McCall area.
Our 'Doug' was built for the US Navy, transferred to the US Army and was eventually acquired from the US Forest
Service. As part of the project we are building a DC-3 Wall of Fame and seek any information, photos or memorabilia
and tall tales related to the Plane that Changed the World. Join us for adventure and nostalgia in another year or two when we finally get clearance to 'take off'." Thanks to participants on a 'thread' at the Warbird WIX forum

My gallery Photos by Friends & Guests #55 shows a 2018 photo: clearly some work on and around 0-7220 has been done.






Erickson Aircraft Collection, Madras,OR
Douglas C-47B Skytrain N56V (c/n 16405/33153).


Madras, Erickson Aircraft Collection
DC-7 N6353C (c/n 45486/964), Tanker 66
These Erickson 'classic airtankers' were aso scheduled for a new paintjob; T#66 was the first, started end-Feb.2015.
In Jan.2020 I learned that Tanker 66 was stored for parts supply. 2020 is rumoured to be their last season with Erickson.

Madras, Erickson Aircraft Collection








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