Douglas A/B-26 Invader

Aero Union

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July 1961 by Dale Newton

Aero Union is an aerospace manufacturing firm specializing in aerial firefighting and modification of firefighting aircraft. The company provides aircraft, crews and ground support to numerous government and private agencies in spray, cargo and scientific operations.

Aero Union manufactures:
Retardant aerial delivery systems Modular airborne fire fighting systems
Heli-borne aerial fire fighting systems Bulk fuel transport tanks
Auxiliary fuel systems 1080 Refueling store systems
Aerial spray systems Automated cargo handling systems
Aerial refueling tanks

Aero Union conducts continuing research in retardant delivery system technologies to develop improved state-of-the-art systems, including the patented constant flow drop systems used on Lockheed C-130s, Lockheed L-188s and P-3s, and Lockheed P-2V aircraft. The company also develops innovative cargo handling system products and is a leader in on-board cargo loading systems for Boeing 747s.

Chico, Redding, Santa Barbara, Hemet, Porterville, Paso Robles, CA; McCall, ID; Medford, OR; Prescott, Phoenix, Fort Huachuca, AZ; Ogden, UT.

FLEET (Types of aircraft):
Eight P-3As, four SP-2Hs, two C-54s


Aero Union has provided aircraft, crews and ground support to numerous government and private agencies for aerial spray, cargo and scientific operations since 1960 and has grown into the largest aerial firefighting contractor in the United States.

Terry Unsworth
Victor E. Alvistur
Rocky Morris
Tel: (530) 896-3000
Fax: (530) 893-8585





Aero Union closing; Chico workers lose jobs

By LAURA URSENY - Staff Writer

Chico employees of Aero Union who were commuting to Sacramento were told Friday their jobs are gone and the air tanker business is being closed.

They were told they could pick up their final checks on Monday, according to an employee's wife, who contacted the Enterprise-Record.

Employees were told that the entire company was closing, according to the email.

Aero Union, which relocated from Chico to McClellan Field in Sacramento, converted military aircraft to aerial firefighters, and operated some of the planes under contract with the federal government.

The Enterprise-Record was unable to contact anyone from Aero Union's management Friday.

However, former Aero Union CEO Vic Alvistur of Chico, who retired from the company several years ago, confirmed the information.

He said he had received calls from a number of the Chico employees Friday about the news.

In July, the U.S. Forest Service canceled its contract with Aero Union, citing unsafe aircraft.

Chico employees "were told the company is closing its doors and they no longer had jobs. There was some insinuations that they should look for new jobs," said Alvistur.

To his knowledge, there were about "a couple dozen" Chico employees traveling to Sacramento, and the company had slightly less than 100 employees in total.

After losing the Forest Service contract, there "is no question they can stay open," said Alvistur.

As well as employing Chico residents, Aero Union continued to lease

six hangars at the Chico Municipal Airport even after relocating to Sacramento. It has been making lease payments to the city.

Aero Union was founded in Redding in 1960, but moved to Chico in 1964. In 2005, it was sold to a group of investors in the Seattle area. In June 2010, it announced the relocation to Sacramento, sending several divisions down there separately over the course of the year.

It still has a slight presence in Chico. At its peak in Chico, it employed about 230 individuals.


Aero Union

Aero Union Corporation
Type Private
Industry Aviation
Founded 1961
Founder(s) Dale Newton and Dick Foy
Headquarters Chico, CA, USA

Aero Union Corporation is an aircraft operation & maintenance company based in Chico, California, United States. They are known for operating fire fighting aircraft, training crews in aerial firefighting and making custom designed fire fighting systems tailored to specific aircraft requirements.


In 1960 Dale Newton and Dick Foy participated in their first fire season with a surplus B-25 Mitchell. Newton & Foy operated for that season under the name Western Air Industries. The following year they purchased their first two B-17 Flying Fortresses and changed their name to Aero Union. In 1962 the company moved their operations from Redding, California to Chico. In June 2010 Aero Union announced plans to move the majority of its operations to McClellan Airfield (formerly McClellan Air Force Base) just outside of Sacramento. Reasons stated for the move include needing larger, more consolidated facilities, access to a larger labor pool and being closer to its primary customers. A smaller scale Chico operation will continue to be maintained for the foreseeable future to provide additional storage and flexibility. The relocation began in September 2010 and is estimated to be completed by the summer of 2011.

Aero Union










Serial #: 44-35323
Construction #:
Civil Registration:
Name: Ginny Sue
Status: Airworthy
Last info: 2002


Delivered to USAAF as A-26C/44-35323, March 1945.
- Delivered to ETO, April, 1945.
- Returned to U.S.A., July 1945.
- Assigned to 4255th Base Unit, Granada Field, MS,
   July 1945-Feb. 1946.
- Transferred to 4160th Base Unit, Hobbs Field, NM,
   Feb. 1946-Sept. 1947.
- Transferred to 4185th Base Unit, Hill AFB, UT, Sept. 1947.
- Redesignated B-26C, July 1948.
- Transferred to 67th TRW/12th TRS/Far East Air Force,
   Tague Airbase, Korea, June 1951.
- Equipped with large nose mounted camera and
   redesignated RB-26C.
- Transferred to 183rd Transport Squadron/Air National Guard,
   Hawkins, MI, 1956.
- Transferred to Davis-Monthan AFB for storage, Dec. 1957.
L.B. Smith Aircraft Corp, Miami, FL, July 1958
- Registered as N8026E.
Kreitzberg Aviation, Inc., Salem, OR, 1966.
Aeroflight Inc, Troutdale, OR, 1969
Aero Union Corp, Chino, CA, 1969.
- Converted to air tanker configuration.
- Flown as tanker #55.
Conair Aviation Ltd., Abbotsford, BC, May 1970.
- Registered as CF-CDD.
Aero Union Corp, Chico, CA. Sep. 1970-1972
- Reregistered as N8026E.
- Flew as tanker #C55.
William Dempsey, East Wenatchee, WA, 1977.
- Flew as tanker #55
Don A. Goodman, Missoula, MT, 1977
Lester Riley, Anchorage, AK, Circa 1978.
- Used as a "River Sander", dropping sand and crushed coral
   on frozen rivers to aid in ice breakup.
- Also used as fire bomber.
Dr. Don Rogers, Anchorage, AK, Circa 1979.
The Air Museum, Chino, CA, July 1980-1992
- Flown as "435323/Ginny Sue.
The Air Museum/Planes Of Fame, Valle, AZ, 2002.
- Static Display.




Above two shots show Jim Byers flying Aero Flite's A-26 Invader at Troutdale, OR in the mid 60s.
Jim flew P-38s with the 474th FG ETO with 3 kills, F-51Ds in korea with the 12th FBS (after getting kicked out of the 67th FBS!).
He flew TBMs, A-26s and A-24 bug sprayers for Holly Flether at Aero flite for many years.


Serial #: 43-22511
Construction #: 18608
Civil Registration:
Name: None
Status: Destroyed
Last info: 1971


Aeroflight Inc, Troutdale, OR, 1963-1969.
- Registered as N86469.
Aero Union Corp, Chico, CA, 1970-1971.
- Crashed and destroyed during firebombing, Springville, AZ, May 4, 1971.


NTSB Identification: LAX71FUJ99
14 CFR Part 91 General Aviation
Event occurred Tuesday, May 04, 1971 in SPRNGRVILLE, AZ
Aircraft: DOUGLAS B-26, registration: N86469

 FILE    DATE          LOCATION          AIRCRAFT DATA       INJURIES       FLIGHT                        PILOT DATA
                                                               F  S M/N     PURPOSE
3-1480   71/5/4    SPRNGRVILLE,ARIZ    DOUGLAS B-26        CR-  1  0  0  COMMERCIAL                AIRLINE TRANSPORT, AGE
        TIME - 0715                    N86469              PX-  0  0  0  FIRE CONTROL              49, 17000 TOTAL HOURS, 17
                                       DAMAGE-DESTROYED    OT-  0  0  0                            IN TYPE, INSTRUMENT
          DEMING,N MEX                WINSLOW,ARIZ
        TYPE OF ACCIDENT                                         PHASE OF OPERATION
           STALL                                                    IN FLIGHT: STARTING SWATH RUN
        SKY CONDITION                                            CEILING AT ACCIDENT SITE
          CLEAR                                                    UNLIMITED
          5 OR OVER(UNLIMITED)                                     NONE
          NONE                                                      43
        WIND DIRECTION-DEGREES                                   WIND VELOCITY-KNOTS
          210                                                       10
        TYPE OF WEATHER CONDITIONS                               TYPE OF FLIGHT PLAN
          VFR                                                      NONE


Serial #: 44-34535
Construction #: 27814
Civil Register:
Name: None
Status: Display
Last info: 2001


L.B. Smith Aircraft Corp, Miami, FL, June 12, 1959.
- Acquired from USAF.
- Registered as N8020E.
Smith Latin Americana Inc, Wilmington, DE, Dec. 29, 1961.
Madden & Smith Aircraft Corp, Miami, FL, Jan. 25, 1962-1963.
Hamilton Aircraft Co, Tucson, AZ, Nov. 5, 1963.
Aero Union Corp, Anderson, CA, Nov. 1963-1965.
Greg Board/Aero Associates Inc, Tucson, AZ, Mar. 26, 1965.
Delivered to Portuguese AF as 7101, June 1965-1975.
- Abandoned, Luanda, Angola, Nov. 1975.
Recovered to Cuba by Cuban Forces in Angola.
Museo Central de la FA Revolucionara, Havana, Cuba, 1989-2001.
- Displayed as FAR 933.
- Restored.


Serial #: 41-39359
Construction #:
Civil Registration:
Name: None
Status: Airworthy
Last info: 2002


Delivered to USAAF as 41-39359.
- Stored, Davis Monthan AFB, AZ.
- Put up for dispossal, Nov. 1956.
Aero Union Corp, Chico, CA, 1966-1970.
- Registered as N91281.
Conair Aviation Ltd, Abbotsford, BC, Mar. 1970-1986
- Registered as CF-BMR.
- Flew as tanker #21.
- Registered as C-FBMR, 1979.
Jerry C. Janes, Rockford, IL, Jan. 24, 1987.
Robert J. Pond/Planes Of Fame East, Minneapolis, MN, Nov. 1987-1998.
- Registered as N26BP.
- Flew as 39386/21.
Bob Pond/Pond Warbirds LLC/Palm Springs Air Museum, Palm Springs, CA, 1998-2002.
- Flown as 39359/21 "Invader".


Serial #: 43-22357
Construction #: 18506
Civil Registration:
Name: None
Status: Display
Last info: 2002


Delivered to USAF as 43-22357.
- Delivered to Davis Monthan AFB, AZ for storage, Feb. 1956.
Greg Board/Aero Associates Inc, Tucson, AZ, 1965.
- Registered as N91348.
- Planned sale to Portuguese AF not completed.
Hamilton Aircraft Co Inc, Tucson, AZ, 1966-1969.
Aero Union Corp, Chino, CA, 1970.
Conair Aviation Ltd, Abbotsford, BC, Apr. 1970-1989.
- Registered as CF-BMS.
- Flew as tanker #22.
- Registered as C-FBMS, 1986.
British Columbia Aviation Museum, Sidney, BC, Aug. 29, 1989-2002.
- Displayed as fire tanker "Conair #22".





Serial #: 44-34344
Construction #: 27623
Civil Registration:
Name: None
Status: Scrapped
Last info: 1974


Greg Board/Aero Associates Inc, Tucson, AZ, 1965.
- Registered as N91356.
- Planned sale to Portuguese AF not completed.
Ames Applicator Corp, Ames, IA, 1966-1970
- Modified as sprayer.
Aero Union Corp, Chino, CA, 1972-1974
- Damaged after nose wheel collapse, Ames, IA, 1972
- Damaged airframe stored.
- Broken up, Ames, IA, Circa 1974.


NTSB Identification: MKC70F0039
14 CFR Part 91 General Aviation
Event occurred Saturday, June 28, 1969 in AMES, IA
Aircraft: DOUGLAS B-26C, registration: N91356

 FILE    DATE          LOCATION          AIRCRAFT DATA       INJURIES       FLIGHT                        PILOT DATA
                                                               F  S M/N     PURPOSE
3-1797  69/6/28    AMES,IOWA           DOUGLAS B-26C       CR-  0  0  1  COMMERCIAL                COMMERCIAL, AGE 43, 3740
        TIME - 1300                    N91356              PX-  0  0  0  ASSOC CROP CTL ACTIVITY   TOTAL HOURS, 390 IN TYPE,
                                       DAMAGE-SUBSTANTIAL  OT-  0  0  0                            INSTRUMENT RATED.
        TYPE OF ACCIDENT                                         PHASE OF OPERATION
           OVERSHOOT                                                LANDING: LEVEL OFF/TOUCHDOWN
           GEAR COLLAPSED                                           LANDING: ROLL
          GOGGLES - NOT USED                                       CRASH HELMET - AVAILABLE-NOT USED





Serial #: 44-35456
Construction #: 28735
Civil Registration:
Name: Dragon Lady
Status: Airworthy
Last info: 2002


Delivered to USAAF as 44-35456.
To Davis Monthan AFB, July 1956.
Western Contracting Corp, Sioux City, IA, 1963-1970.
- Registered as N330WC.
Aero Union Corp, Chico, CA, 1972.
Conair Aviation Ltd, Abbotsford, BC, July 1972-1983.
- Registered as CF-AGO.
- Flew as tanker #26.
- Undercarraige collapsed on landing, Fort St. John, BC, Apr. 14, 1980.
Air Spray Ltd, Edmonton, Alberta, Apr. 20, 1983-1992.
- Registered as C-FAGO.
- Flown as tanker #36/Dragon Lady.





Serial #: 44-35440
Construction #: 28719
Civil Registration:
  Consort 26
Name: None
Status: Display
Last info: 1999


Delivered to French AF as 44-35345.
- BOC: Feb. 16, 1954.
- Based in Indochina.
- Returned to USAF, Oct. 22, 1955.
- Open storage, Clark AFB, Philippines, 1955-1958.
Rock Island Oil & Refining Co, Wichita, KS, 1966-1971.
- Registered as N6838D.
- Converted to Consort 26, Hutchinson, KS.
Aero Union Corp, Chico, CA, 1971.
Conair Aviation Ltd, Abbotsford, BC, June 1971-1988.
- Registered as CF-MSB.
- Flew as tanker #325.
- Registered as C-FMSB, 1977.
USAFM, Travis AFB, 1988-1999.
- Displayed as 435440/BG-O.