In a major move to streamline its operations, Helimax Aviation is expanding its long-time base of operations at McClellan Airport, in Sacramento, with the opening of a renovated 40,000 square foot hangar, expected to be on line by late June or early July of this year.
The company, owned by Chris Turner, a Michigan-based entrepreneur, is engaged primarily in aerial firefighting, with offices in Boise, Idaho, as well as Sacramento.
“The hangar will help to facilitate our plan to put all of our firefighting helicopters and utility aircraft, including those operated by CHI Aviation—also owned by Chris Turner—under the Helimax Aviation flag,” explained Larry Kelley, Director of Fire Operations for both companies. “This will give our customers better support, and (delete) a central point of contact and dispatch capability to wherever our aircraft are needed.”
The hangar will be the heart of Helimax Aviation’s flight operations and maintenance, with space to accommodate offices for the Director of Operations, Chief Pilot, Director of Maintenance and other office personnel. “It will also enable us to increase our aircraft support capability,” said Kelley, adding that the building will be able to accommodate up to six medium size helicopters and one CH47D Chinook heavy helicopter, of which Helimax currently operates three. The company also flies five Bell 205A-1++, one Bell 212HP, two S-61s, and one AS332 Super Pumas.
Anticipating a busy fire season, Kelley reported that the three Chinooks are carded for service with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire), and the US Forest Service. The aircraft will be dispatched from McClellan under call-when-needed contracts. All other Helimax aircraft are under exclusive use USFS contracts, and are currently positioned at Salmon, Idaho, Ogden Utah, Chester, Kernville, and Trinity, California.
CHI Aviation is a member of the American Helicopter Services & Aerial Firefighting Association (AHSAFA), the Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing the interests of the privately operated aerial firefighting industry before Congress, the US Forest Service, and other Federal and State regulatory agencies.