Aurora State Airport (KUAO) has become a staging grounds for fighting the wildfires that blaze in Marion, Clackamas, and Linn Counties.
According to officials with the Friends of Aurora Airport, the Oregon Department of Forestry crews are basing resilience assets at KUAO to fast track their efforts to contain the fires.
At least one Oregon Army National Guard helicopter and a U.S. Air Force Reserve helicopter, as well as several contract helicopters, are also staged at Aurora Airport. Additional ground support equipment, tankers, and mobile command trailers are also on site.
Lynx FBO Services is providing assistance with fuel, aircraft marshaling, and coordination of ramp space.
“Jon Bickford, Lynx line manager, is an experienced coordinator and has direct experience with the challenging coordination of aircraft in situations just like what we’re experiencing now,” said Dylan Frederick, a spokesman for Friends of Aurora Airport.
The Aurora Airport Water Control District has volunteered 50,000 gallons of water a day to the Oregon Department of Forestry to use in preparation for air drops once weather and visibility allow.
“Aurora Airport businesses and the Water Control District will continue to do anything we can for our surrounding communities,” said Bruce Bennett, volunteer director of the Water Control District. “Many of our airport businesses are generously stepping up to help those who need us during this time. We will partner in this team effort in any way we can.”
Helicopter Transport Services is one of those businesses, according to Frederick. With one of the largest and most diverse fleets of helicopters in the industry, HTS conducts missions that range from heavy lift to fire suppression and air ambulance efforts. HTS has already had its Skycrane Helitanker working in the Santiam Canyon area and is offering to support ODF directly from its Aurora base.
KUAO is one of 84 general aviation airports in the nation with a national significance designation from the FAA. That designation is given to airports that play a critical role in national transportation needs and emergency preparedness.