Wayne Coulson stands by a former military C-130Q Hercules cargo plane being converted into a firefighting air tanker at San Bernardino International Airport in San Bernadino, Calif. (Rich Brooks / The Press-Enterprise via AP)
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — A 30-year-old ex-military plane is being converted into a high-tech firefighting plane in Southern California, and its owner hopes to win a federal contract to battle wildfires.
The Riverside Press-Enterprise says Canadian tycoon Wayne Coulson is overhauling the Navy C-130Q Hercules from nose to tail, adding gear to pinpoint fire retardant drops and a 3,500-gallon tank.
The U.S. Forest Service has a modernization plane for its fleet of air tankers, sparked by two deadly accidents in 2002 where the wings snapped off of aging air tankers in flight.
Coulson said his turboprop is relatively new by air tanker standards, and it’s undergoing a full renovation at San Bernardino International Airport.
Test flights are scheduled next month, and Coulson hopes to win a Forest Service contract by June.