I was wondering, what kind of aircraft are currently being used by Boulder County to fight wildfires? For example, see photo attached of a plane dropping flame retardant on a wildfire over Left-Hand Canyon in Boulder, Colorado.

plane dropping flame retardant on a wildfire over Left-Hand Canyon in Boulder, Colorado

I would appreciate any insight anyone can share on this. Thank you.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ More importantly, why is he gear down during the retardant drop? $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Oct 19, 2020 at 18:13
  • $\begingroup$ @FreeMan I'm guessing a sudden unloading and subsequent pull-up maneuver could cause the gear to gravity drop. Might also help avoid overspeeding. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Oct 20, 2020 at 2:10
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @FreeMan Apparently, it's written into the STC that they need gear down during drops, supposedly to prevent stalling. I didn't look up the STC myself, but here's an article: fireaviation.com/2017/09/16/…. I also seem to remember reading in one of the forums that people felt it was a silly requirement. $\endgroup$ Oct 22, 2020 at 2:22

3 Answers 3


It's a McDonnell Douglas MD-87, specifically one from Erickson Aero Tanker.

enter image description here Source: eatanker.com


In addition to the Erickson MD-87, the Avro RJ85 from Neptune Aviation Services is also being used to fight the wildfires west of Denver. They are currently based at Rocky Mountain Municipal Airport.

I caught a photo of one on the ground just a few weeks ago.

Neptune Aviation RJ-85 #41

OpenADSB screenshot of firefighting RJ85


It's an MD-87, the shortened version of the MD-80 series. It's not operated by Boulder County, it's operated by Erickson, which also operates a number of S-64 Skycrane helicopters.


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