Lets come right out and say it - this plane was not built to look pretty. It was built to do a job. Yet, in some strange way, folks can't stop admiring it.

This photo was sent to me by Paul Wing of Cheyenne Wyoming after he saw two of these planes parked. They were refueling and doing a quick maintenance check before being sent back to the Mullen Fire.

The plane is multipurpose. It is a tanker that was designed for use by the French government in firefighting. It also transports disaster recovery personnel and supplies.

In the video below you can watch a timer ticking off how quickly the plane fills its massive 1,600 gallons tanks.

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Shane Sullivan is the general manager for Spokane-based aerial firefighting company Aero-Flite Inc. “Last year’s wildfire season was very busy, so coming into this one, we’re once again concentrating on being ready,” he says.

Aero-Flite is a private company that provides contract aircraft and crews to the U.S. Forest Service for fighting wildfires. Aero-Flite also supports county, state, and federal agencies.

“Prior to coming to Spokane, we had about 40 employees and a handful of aircraft,” he says. “Today, we have about 150 employees and 10 planes in our fleet.”

“Our mission is ultimately bigger than all of us, because the work we do helps to protect people, property, and the environment,” he says. “Many of our employees are really proud to work here because of that aspect.”

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