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New-style air tankers touch down in Penticton

Conair has brought a pair of its Dash 8-400AT to the city’s airport, ahead of wildfire season
The new style Conair Dash 8s air tankers have landed in Penticton for wildfire season. (Monique Tamminga Western News)

The new Conair Dash 8 air tankers have landed at Penticton Airport this week ready to help in the upcoming wildfire season.

Two Conair air tankers are in the Peach City on June 1, to start their work this summer in supporting firefighters across the region in fighting wildfires.

The B.C.-based Dash 8-400AT air tankers arrived on Thursday in Penticton, and two in Washington State, to start their firefighting contracts.

The large air tankers were stationed in Alberta and Fort McMurray for most of May, on loan from B.C. and Alaska, to support crews with the very challenging and fast spreading wildfires there.

Longtime B.C. airtanker pilot Grahame Wilson had his final takeoff after 39 years of service in September 2022, leading Tankers 44, 49, and 55 at the Penticton Regional Airport. They had been stationed in Penticton for 25 years.

VIDEO: Air tankers leave Penticton airport

The two Dash 8s have replaced the trio and carry 25 per cent more retardant, as well as cruise 100 mph faster than the old ones, according to Conair.

It was on Sept. 12 last year when Conair firefighting air tankers wrapped up work in Penticton for the season. Crews were forced to stick around for almost a week longer than they were supposed to, amid the 10,000-hectare Heather Lake wildfire near Manning Park.

READ MORE: Heather Lake wildfire burning on both sides of border grows to 4,140 hectares