MISSOULA – Neptune Aviation’s venerable P-2-V tankers have flown missions over thousands of wildfires, providing safety not only in the Northern Rockies but all over North America for the past quarter of a century.
The distinctive workhorses are now being retired at the end of this long and volatile fire season.
When Neptune Aviation was founded in 1993, it’s fleet included half-a-dozen of the durable P-2-V tankers that had been based in New Mexico. When Neptune moved operations to Missoula, the P-2-Vs came along, forming the backbone of the company’s fleet.
The planes, originally designed for the Navy for maritime patrols and anti-submarine missions, have continued faithful service, even as they’ve been replaced by the “next gen” jet tankers over the past half dozen years.
Saturday, with fire season winding down, Neptune will formally retire its remaining half dozen P-2-Vs, one of which was mounted on permanent display outside Missoula International Airport this summer.
Neptune will open its doors from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturday for the community to join them in saying farewell to the P-2-Vs, with flyovers, water drops, static displays and more.