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Entries in Neptune Aviation (11)


Historic Neptune tankers headed for new homes

Neptune Aviation photo (MISSOULA)- Neptune Aviation's legendary propellor driven firefighting tankers are headed for new homes. 

The Missoula-based company opted to retire the classic "P2V" tankers at the end of the 2017 fire season, now that it has a full fleet of "net gen", jet-powered tankers to take their place. The tankers had been the backbone of the company's firefighting force for more than two decades, flying thousands of missions across the country. 

Now, after considering options for the P2Vs, Neptune has announced the planes will be headed to several museums later this year. 

Tanker 07 will be going to the Estrella Warbirds Museum in Pasa Robles, California with Tanker 05 going to the Glendive Airport in eastern Montana for display. Tanker 06 will be placed in Klamath Falls, Oregon when there's an airbase and memorial to a tanker that crashed while fighting a local fire. Tanker 45 will be sent to the Yankee Air Museum in Belleville, Michigan and Tanker 43 will go to the Sand Diego Air and Space Museum. 

The former Evergreen Tanker 142 will be displayed at the airport in Alamogordo in New Mexico. 

Neptune will keep Tankers 14 and 44 operational for displays at air shows around the country. 



Neptune tanker grounded with engine problem 

Neptune P2V in action- Neptune Facebook page file photo(HELENA)- One of Neptune Aviation's venerable P2V tankers was forced to divert for a landing in Helena last night, after it developed an engine problem in flight. 

KTVH reports the prop-driven tanker was enroute to help the Forest Service with a new fire new Dillon when the problem cropped up with one engine. The plane landed safely and crews are replacing the engine before taking to the air Thursday.

Neptune's planes have been flying hundreds of sorties this summer, especially with very active fire season in Western Montana. The remaining P2Vs are set to be retired at a special ceremony in Missoula at the end of September. 


Neptune Aviation marketing expanded business charter service

Neptune Aviation photo(MISSOULA)- Missoula's Neptune Aviation is trying a different approach with a portion of its charter air service, deciding to market one of its planes to "memberships" for business class travelers. 

Neptune is primarily known for its firefighting business, with planes that provide a key tool to fighting wild land forest fires across the country. 

But Neptune has also operated a charter business for some time now, with two planes. One is a larger Falcon 50 jet, and the second a King Air B-100 turboprop. In the past, the company has chartered the planes with an "on demand" basis. But today they announced a new marketing effort, using "memberships" for the King Air.

"For example if you came up and want our King Air it would cost you about 4-thousand dollars to go from here to Billings and back," explained Neptune Aviation C.E.O. Ron Hooper. "So what we're doing is modifying that, in that we're looking at a program where in effect we sell memberships. And what that does, say for example you wanted to go to Billings once a month. You could actually buy a membership for $750 which gives you a round trip ticket to Billings for $750 a month." 

Hooper says the company will market the new offering for the next few months, with an eye toward beginning to service by August 1st. He says Neptune will look at demand for several regional destinations, such as Billings and Boise. 


Hundreds show up to celebrate Neptune Aviation birthday

Dennis Bragg photo(MISSOULA)- Hundreds of people turned out Saturday to help Missoula-based Neptune Aviation celebrate its 20th anniversary, getting a rare behind-the-scenes look at the aerial firefighting company. 

Neptune started in the early 1990s, when a local group of business owners purchased New Mexico-based Black Hills Aviation. That gave the company its first of the venerable P2V air tankers and other gear, which was then moved to Missoula, in addition to keeping the base in Alamogordo.  

It's a relationship that fills both an economic development and business role, but also a safety role, Just like this past summer, Neptune planes frequently coming to the rescue of their neighbors when wildfire hits here in Western Montana. 

"We have over 100 employees that live here in Missoula," notes Chief Operating Officer Dan Snyder. "And of course all their family associated with them. So if you were to put a number to it it's over 300-people that are tied into the Missoula community."

People attending this weekend's open house were treated to tours of the planes, including the company's "next gen" jet-powered airtankers, free food, live music and prizes. They even got to see a few demonstration runs as the planes made water drops over the Missoula runway. 


Tester says Forest Service tanker deal puts Montana "at risk"

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)- Senator Jon Tester is upset with the Forest Service's decision to award contracts for "next generation" air tankers to companies which still don't have their jets ready to fight fires. 

The criticism came at a hearing in Washington Wednesday, when Tester grilled Forest Service chief Tom Tidwell during a budget hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee. 

Earlier this month the Forest Service announced it was awarding a contract for 7-new tankers to several companies after starting over on the bidding process last year. That decision left Missoula's Neptune Aviation off the list, even though Neptune had initially won the first contract last year and is one of the few operators with jet tankers ready to go. 

Neptune is appealing that decision. 

Tester says the Forest Service left "better options on the table", and not having all the tankers ready this year puts Montana communities at risk this fire season. 

“I’ve seen what’s happened in Montana’s forests, and I can’t figure out why the award was made how it was,” Tester told Tidwell.  “My problem is there are better options on the table to be taken up by the Forest Service and you didn’t do it.”

Tidwell said the new planes still need to be tested.