The Museum of Flight and Aerial Firefighting is located in Greybull, Wyoming. Greybull, located at the base of the Big Horn Mountains, and the surrounding area have long been magnets for lovers of beauty and adventure. The scenery varies greatly from high mountain vistas to painted deserts, bursting with recreational opportunities, inhabited by the friendliest people in the United States, and rich in wildlife and history.
A significant part of that history is the Museum of Flight and Aerial Firefighting. A nationally renowned historic assembly, the museum contains dozens of the last remaining examples of World War II's mighty bombers and transport aircraft. These magnificent aircraft are restored and retired here to whet the imaginations of many a true or would-have-been flying ace. You can see four of the last remaining flying PB4Y-2 planes used against the Japanese in the South Pacific. So heavily fortified, these planes' awesome firepower caused the Japanese to abandon some of their islands when they heard these planes would be used against them.
The Museum of Flight and Aerial Firefighting was founded in 1987 and incorporated in 1992. The purposes for starting the Museum are numerous but the major reason is to preserve a part of history that other aviation museums do not. There have been many types of aircraft used to combat forest fires since the late 1920's and many different designs for fire retardant drop systems. The Museum of Flight is dedicated to educating people about the numerous types of aircraft and retardant systems that have evolved over the years into the awesome aerial firefighting capabilities used today. We hope to someday be able to display a wide representation of the aircraft and equipment used in Aerial Firefighting. The museum also has an interest in preserving and displaying other historical aircraft in flyable condition to include flight demonstrations!
On December 17, 1903 Orville and Wilbur Wright flew the first successful powered flight above the sands of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Sixteen years after Kitty Hawk, aircraft were already being used in fire detection. Prior to the advent of the radio, to get written fire location information to ground teams, a note was attached to a parachute. This was unpredictable (it usually landed in a tree or away from the target area) carrier pigeons were also tried to no avail.
In the decades following the use of aircraft as fire spotters, the development of Air Tankers showed the versatility and ingenuity of humankind. Pioneering attempts to drop fire retardant liquids on fires from aircraft included using single engine planes with wooden beer kegs in the back seat trying to dump the water-filled kegs on a fire, and carrying a water sluicing box with a garden hose attached to spray the fire (two of the experiments done in California in the early 1950's.)
In approximately 1953, the first modern air tankers were developed and began testing in the Western United States.