The U.S. Forest Service and other government agencies are facing the imminent 2003 wildfire season with 25% fewer retardant-delivery large air tanker aircraft than in 2002, and a diminished budget for helicopter and single-engine air tanker contracts. The agencies have formulated a skeletal plan to modernize the nation's aerial firefighting fleet, but funding remains questionable. After two aging Hawkins & Powers Aviation Inc. air tankers shed their wings while fighting forest fires ...

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