Neptune aviation was founded in 1993 as a result of the purchase of Black Hills Aviation in Alamogordo, New Mexico.


At the time, the company had just completed T-08 and begun conversion of T-07, giving us a total of 9 P2 aircraft.

Old T-06 frame Shortly thereafter, operations were moved to Missoula, MT.  The Lockheed P2-V would be the firefighting workhorse for many years to come.

 The Lockheed P2-V has a long and versatile history since it’s intruction to the Navy in 1952.

Designed as a maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft, the P2-V served the U.S. Navy until 1978.

The forward nose cone was most often used as an observation bubble for spotting enemy submarines, but was sometimes fitted with twin .50 caliber machine guns.

For Neptune Aviation, the great versatility of the Lockheed Neptune P2-V meant that it translated well into a slurry tanker platform. 
Neptune’s P2 aircraft are classified as Large Airtankers, and are capable of delivering a fire retardant payload of 2,080 gallons. They have a cruise speed 220 MPH and a range of 2200 NM.

With time, the number large tankers available to U.S. Forest Service began to dwindle due to age.  Newer, faster, and more cost-effective aircraft were sought out.

In 2007, Neptune began the modernization review for a replacement platform. Then in May 2010, our first BAe-146 was received in Missoula, and so began its conversion into the future of aerial firefighting.

Before coming to Missoula, Tanker 12 operated as a passenger jet for Brussels Airlines.

After intensive testing, the innovative BAe tanking system was approved.  It’s effectiveness was quickly welcomed on wildfires.

Neptune also began to offer its services on state contracts.  Here, a crowd gathers to celebrate the newly minted Tanker 12 as it leaves for California to start a CalFire contract.

Neptune takes pride by engaging year-round with various events to help improve our community.
Each Christmas, we purchase hundreds of kids bikes.  Our employees gather alongside their families to volunteer time to assemble them.
They are then handed off to the local sheriff’s department, who distribute them to needy families in the area.


Tankers are a common site moments before kickoff in Missoula for a University of Montana home football game.  Just trying to do our part to get the crowd pumped up!!

 As Neptune grows into the future, we continue to adapt and innovate with the quickly changing nature of the aviation industry. 

To learn more about Neptune’s aviation services and see what we can do for you, please browse our divisions

And as always, don’t hesitate to contact us.