by: Hildreth TomPublished:
Operated by Neptune Aviation Services, Inc., N4235N/10 rotates during its takeoff roll at Fox Field. In its previousl life #10 was a US Navy SP-2H Neptune antisubmarine patrol aircraft, Bu Aer 144681. It was operated by several patrol squadrons during its Navy service, including VP-21,VP-56 and VP-67.
The Navy's Neptune antisub patrol aircraft fleet was produced in a wide range of variants. Presently bearing the civil registration N96278, fleet #05 was originally produced as a P2V-5. The Navy received 348 of the dash -5s, the first of which flew in December 29, 1950. The huge bulk of the Wright 3350 cubic-in. piston engines is apparent in this view, accentuated somewhat by telephoto compression.
The DC-7 came along late in the era of the piston engine airliner. Much longer and more powerful than predecessor DC-4s seen at Fox Field, N401US seen in this photo originally flew for United Airlines as N6331C. Today, modified with a belly pod to carry fire retardant, it is operated by Butler Aircraft Co.
A telephoto shot of one of the fires taken from the desert near Edwards AFB, a distance of roughly 70 miles. This fire is believed located west of Cajon near I-15. The smoke and heat are billowing skyward to great heights, possibly even causing the cirrus formation that is splaying out above it at higher altitude.
Neptune #140 photographed in a climbing turn as it heads toward the fires to the west. The aircraft was originally built as Lockheed P2V-7 140443, and is operated today by Hawkins and Powers Aviation, Inc.
Neptune N140HP taxies in at Fox Field in the late afternoon. In addition to the big Wright R-3350 piston engines, the -7 version was produced with booster jet engines, which can be seen hanging below the wing outboard of the props. (In this view the white intake doors are closed, indicating the jet turbines are not running). These powerplants are regularly used during fire fighting missions during takeoff.
The Navy's replacement for the P-2 Neptune was the turboprop P-3 Orion. While many of these are still in Navy service, in recent years a number of them, like N922AU seen here, have become members of the firefighting fleet.
Originally developed for the "Counter-Insurgency" role in Vietnam, the North American OV-10 Bronco can be found in the firefighting fleet today. In this case, N402DF was seen in the markings of the California Department of Forestry.
Orion #22 on its takeoff roll. Developed from America's only large turboprop airliner, the Lockheed l-188 Electra, the model 186 Orion has served numerous countries decades as a successful anti-submarine aircraft.