- Hemet-Ryan Airport
name = Hemet-Ryan Airport
IATA = HMT
ICAO = KHMT
type = Public
operator = County of Riverside
location = Hemet, California
elevation-f = 1,512
elevation-m = 460.9
coordinates = Coord|33|44|02.33|N|117|01|21.09|W|type:airport|display=inline,title
r1-number = 5/23
r1-length-f = 4,314
r1-length-m = 1,315
r1-surface = Asphalt
r2-number = 4/22
r2-length-f = 2,045
r2-length-m = 623
r2-surface = Asphalt
Hemet-Ryan Airport is a main CDF Air Attack Base, also used for civilian purposes,
Civil Air Patrolmeetings, gliderflights, and more.
For nearly 50 years, Ryan Air Attack Base has played a vital role in wild fire suppression efforts in Southern California and Riverside County.
Ryan Air Attack Base is named after the late Claude T. Ryan who is most famous for having designed the Spirit of St. Louis airplane, and who began the Ryan School of Aeronautics in Hemet during World War II. Through contract with the federal government 14,000 army cadets were trained to fly. With the end of WWII and the need for pilots diminishing, training ceased. The facility eventually became a public airport owned and operated by Riverside County.
California Department of Forestry
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Riverside Unit) operates a joint Air Attack /
HelitackBase at the Hemet/Ryan Airport. Ryan Air Attack Base is statistically one of the most active in the nation.
History of Ryan Air Attack Base
In 1957 the United States Forest Service commenced air tanker loading operations and in 1959 California Division of Forestry (now the California Department of Forestry) began their operation at Ryan field. Both agencies maintained separate parking, loading and mixing areas but the initial stages of a joint base operation had begun. In 1969 the United States Forest Service (USFS) and the California Division of Forestry (CDF) truly merged into a joint agency air attack base sharing the base operation, responsibilities and facilities. The joint base concept successfully continued operation until 1998 when the USFS moved their air tanker base operation to the larger and recently vacated
Norton Air Force Base.
Ryan Air Attack Base is one of 19 tanker bases strategically located throughout California. Because of climate, weather, fuels, geography and fire occurrence Ryan is strategically located. The base provides initial attack aircraft service to over 17 thousand square miles of private, state, and federally owned lands. Up until 1998, Ryan was statistically the busiest air tanker base in the United States delivering an average of 1.5 million gallons of retardant annually. With the USFS moving to San Bernardino, these statistic have dropped dramatically.
From the beginning of Ryan Air Attack Base, CDF and the USFS used privately owned contracted WWII vintage aircraft. The type and sizes of aircraft varied based on vendor, availability of flyable airframes and spare parts. As the years counted off and the flight hours increased these airplanes became static museum displays or were robbed for parts to keep the dwindling fleet flying. Because of the dwindling air tanker fleet, CDF acquired excess U.S. Navy Grumman S-2A submarine hunting aircraft. These planes were converted form military use to firefighting aircraft using a design developed by Hemet Valley Flying Service. The first two aircraft build-ups were completed by Hemet Valley Flying Service and tested at Ryan Air Attack Bases. The basic aircraft design has been in continuous state service since 1975.
In 1977 CDF began a two-week pilot helitack program utilizing a contracted helicopter. Headed up by Captain Emil Derdowski and two firefighters the program was extended to a total of four weeks. The success of this pilot program brought on line Hemet-Ryan Helitack Base using a full time contract helicopter staffed with three captains and nine firefighters operating out of Ryan Air Attack Base.
In 1981, CDF acquired Bell UH-1F Huey helicopters through the Federal Excess Property Program (FEPP) leasing them from the Air Force through the USFS for one dollar a year. This program allowed CDF to operate and manage its own fleet of fixed wing and rotor wing aircraft.
In 1992 CDF acquired several of the larger Bell UH-IH helicopters through FEPP with Hemet-Ryan Helitack stationed at Ryan Air Attack Base receiving one of the first buildups. These helicopters were further upgraded with larger engines, main rotor and tail boom assemblies making them the “Super Huey” model 205 A++. CDF now has eleven of these helicopters in service with nine based throughout the state. In 1993, the OV-10 replaced the older Cessna 337 as Air Attack 310 base at Ryan. In June 2001, CDF replaced the older S-2As at Ryan with S-2F3AT Turbine Tanker conversions. The upgrades include constant flow 1200 gallon tanks and turbine engines allowing, for better capabilities and performance.
In June 2007, The Hemet-Ryan Airport was approved $2.5 million from the Riverside County Board of Supervisors and over $25 million from the state for the redevelopment of the air-attack facilities. An additional $417,000 will be used for an environmental-impact study on the expansion of the runway. The runway will be extended from convert|4300|ft|m to convert|6000|ft|m to accommodate heavier firefighting aircraft and increased corporate jet traffic. The runway expansion would take place on the south-west portion of the complex and require re-alignment of Stetson Ave. and Warren Road.
The 12 acre base will contain a convert|5842|sqft|m2|sing=on, 22-bed barracks building, a convert|4812|sqft|m2|sing=on three-bay vehicle storage facility and shop; a convert|4646|sqft|m2|sing=on, two-story operations building containing pilot facilities, administration and dispatch center; a convert|15300|sqft|m2|sing=on, two-bay open-shade canopy and an convert|8211|sqft|m2|sing=on helicopter/ OV-10 enclosed hangar. Also planned are new public and secured staff parking areas, six fire-retardant loading pits to handle interagency aircraft, along with equipment tanks, pumps and piping used to mix and deliver fire retardant. Construction is expected to begin in October 2008. [ [http://www.pe.com/localnews/hemet/stories/PE_News_Local_H_airbase09.9e7b6c.html "Hemet-Ryan firefighting base to undergo rebuilding", "Hemet Press Enterprise",
June 8, 2007, accessed September 19, 2007] ]
Hemet-Ryan Airport covers convert|428|acre|km2|0 and has two runways:
* Runway 5/23: 4,314 x 100 ft (1,315 x 30 m), Surface: Asphalt
* Runway 4/22: 2,045 x 25 ft (623 x 8 m), Surface: Asphalt
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