OPE and OFW planes in Chalkyitsik, Alaska


The BLM Alaska State Aviation Office is located within Alaska Fire Service facilities on Fort Wainwright. The BLM Alaska State Aviation Office leads the BLM Alaska’s statewide aviation program. The program is responsible for providing safe, cost-effective aviation support to BLM Alaska and its interagency partners. Due to Alaska’s remoteness, the BLM Alaska relies heavily upon aviation to carry out its mission to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. This includes providing timely, safe and effective fire response in Alaska. 

Four of the seven BLM owned aircraft nationally are principally based in Alaska. Two are used primarily for law enforcement while the other two are used for logistical needs, resource projects and for wildland fire management support. Otherwise, BLM relies on helicopters and airplanes procured through contracts to support smokejumpers, aerial water suppression needs, aerial supervision, fire detection, personnel transport, wildlife and land surveys, and other uses related to public lands and resource management.

Routinely available BLM AFS firefighting aviation resources include: 

  • Four Fire Boss water scooping aircraft used for fire suppression. 
  • Seven helicopters used for personnel transport, logistics, bucket work and aerial ignition operations. 
  • Four airplanes for smokejumpers and paracargo. 
  • Five utility aircraft for logistics and detection. 
  • Two air attack airplanes to help coordinate the airspace over a fire and provide intelligence to ground forces.  
  • 20 small unmanned aerial systems (drones) that provide aerial ignition, infrared detection and video of incidents.  

*When needed, supplemental aircraft are ordered from other BLM or U.S, Forest Service areas or are hired under an existing “Call When Needed” contract.