Hutchinson based air tanker ready to fight fires for upcoming fire season

Published: Jul. 28, 2019 at 4:52 PM CDT
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A Hutchinson pilot bought an air tanker to help fight fires for the upcoming fire season.

Bill Garrison says the plane has been sitting in a hangar at the Hutchinson Regional Airport.

"I bought it specifically to help fight fires here in Kansas," Garrison said.

Garrison says he saw a need, especially after the highlands fire in Reno County a few years ago.

"A few years ago at the Highland Fire, I dropped quite a bit of water on that fire with my crop duster and at that point I decided well I might want to get a bigger airplane," Garrison said.

He says the air tanker will boost capabilities to fight fires in Kansas, whether they are small or large. He believes this is the first plane of it's kind in the state.

The Kansas Forest Service says it has an agreement with Garrison, it will pay about $4,000 an hour for him to be in the air. He'll be dumping water and possibly down the road, fire retardant.

Officials say he will only be called when the plane is needed.

Garrison knows a lot about planes and says its his passion. While he's still getting it ready to go, he is prepared to take it out of the hangar and start it up if he has to.