Willows in Glenn County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
Birth of the Air Tanker Program
Dedicated to the Pioneers who started Aerial Firefighting
The first operational air tanker was developed in Willows, by the Willows Flying Service in 1955, at the request of the Fire Control Officer for the Mendocino National Forest. A Boeing Stearman 75 “Caydet” Agricultural Aircraft was modified with a 170 gallon tank at the Willows Airport. This Aircraft, N75081, became the first registered free fall air tanker in the history of aviation. The first “air drop” was made on the Mendenhall Fire, August 12, 1955, on the Mendocino National Forest.
In 1956, seven agricultural aircraft were modified and formed the first operational air tanker squadron in the United States. Piloted by local aviators, this squadron operated out of the Willows Airport fighting wildfires throughout California.
In 1959, heavy air tankers, capable of carrying 2,000 gallons of fire retardant were providing an effective tool in controlling wildfires. Aircraft having a retardant capacity-of 3,000 gallons have contributed to successful wildfire control throughout the United States.
Joe Ely, Fire Control Officer. Lee Sherwood, Air Attack Pilot. Harold Hendrickson. Dale
Erected 1981 by Mendocino National Forest.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Air & Space • Horticulture & Forestry. A significant historical date for this entry is August 12, 1955.
Location. 39° 31.387′ N, 122° 13.108′ W. Marker is in Willows, California, in Glenn County. Marker is at the intersection of County Road G and Airport Road on County Road G. Located near the Willows-Glenn County Airport Cafe. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 353 Co Rd G, Willows CA 95988, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 2 other markers are within 10 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Kanawha (approx. 4.6 miles away); Bayliss Library (approx. 10 miles away).
Credits. This page was last revised on May 6, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 3, 2021, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. This page has been viewed 38 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on May 3, 2021, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California.