Firefighting Plane Now Based in Reno

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WASHOE COUNTY -- Reno is now the home of a new firefighting plane that will battle fires throughout the continental United States. Coulson's Lockheed C-130 is similar to aircraft used by the Nevada Air National Guard. The C-130 was formerly operated by the US Navy and NASA before being converted into a firefighting aircraft, according to Coulson COO Jim Messer.

Messer said the C-130 is able to drop roughly 35-hundred gallons of water, gel or retardant. He said some of the plane's other features make it ideal for firefighting.

"(It has) high-lift capabilities, a turbo prop which we think is very, very key because the turbines run at one-hundred percent power all the time, and you just use prop pitch for 'instant get out of trouble card,'" he said.

Messer said the aircraft was previously based in Sacramento, but he decided to move it to Reno. He said the company felt Reno would help accommodate a possible expansion.

Messer said the aircraft is under contract with the US Forest Service for five years. During that time, he said the plane would be stationed at various locations for 160 to 180 days.

"They pick where we are based out of, and that can be strategic where fire might happen, or it can be where there is fire happening," he said.

Reno-Tahoe International Airport Authority CEO Marily Mora said the new company will also put twenty people to work in Reno.

Coulson will operate our of the new Atlantic Aviation terminal, which just opened April 8th.