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Huey with filled water bucket

Our goal is to maintain pilot proficiency and provide mission-capable aircraft to support departmental missions efficiently and safely.

These are Federal Excess Personal Property (FEPP) UH1H helicopters, commonly called the Huey. DNRC maintains a shop facility on the Helena Airport site where these former military helicopters are rebuilt and maintained. During fire season, these ships typically carry a "bambi" bucket, long line, and come with a support truck for refueling and supplies. They are used primarily to support our initial attack forces.

The Aviation Section operates and maintains a fleet of ten aircraft. The fleet consists of seven helicopters and three fixed-wing airplanes.

Three fixed-wing Cessna 180 aircraft are used primarily for fire patrol and personnel transportaion and are located in Helena, Missoula and Kalispell.

Five Bell UH-1 type 2 helicopters are used to support DNRC's initial attack fire suppression program. Three UH-1's are located in Helena, Missoula and Kalispell to provide direct protection initial attack. The other two UH-1's are located in Helena for state wide deployment on an as needed basis.

Two light, type 3 helicopters (Bell 206 B-III) are stationed in Helena. One is owned by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). DNRC maintains this aircraft and provides pilot servies to DEQ. In return, DNRC reserves the right to use this aircraft for fire missions. The second light helicopter is used as a backup aircraft or for additional coverage.

Fuel tenders

These Fuel Tenders go in support of the DNRC's UHIH helicopters. Most of the time the helicopters and their support vehicles are assigned a duty station, either in Helena, Kalispell, or Missoula.

Aviation Program Accomplishments in FY 2008

Water / retardent dropped 2,089,976 gallons
Fire Administration 9 hours
Fire detection / reconnaissance 603.5 hours
Fire - other 19 hours
Fire suppression - initial attack and extended attack 869.8 hours
Fire training 18.8 hours
Non-fire missions 3.5 hours
False alarm 14.3 hours


light & medium helicopters with water buckets

Foreground - Bell 206 B-III
Type 3 helicopter (light)
Background - Bell UH-1
Type 2 helicopter (medium)

Cessna 180

Cessna 180

Cessna 180
Cessna 180

Cessna 180
Cessna 180


Dept. of Natural Resources & Conservation
1625 Eleventh Ave.
Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 444-2074
Fax: (406) 444-2684