Pilots train in Buckeye ahead of Arizona's wildfire season

As the temperatures heat up, the threat of wildfires in Arizona begins to rise.

For the last several weeks, pilots have been training for water airdrops in Buckeye.

Using a single-engine plane is one of the most precise ways to fight a wildfire from the sky. The firefighting plane has a tank directly underneath the pilot and when it’s full, it nearly doubles the weight of the tanker.

These aren’t the massive DC-10 planes dropping a lake's worth of water and fire retardant, but they're single-engine planes with precision attacks.

"We fly lower, a little more accurate, but a much smaller load, but they're strong. Sometimes six to eight aircraft together, so you’re getting it one after another," said Beryl Shears with Western Pilot Service.

Before Western Pilot Service trains in the air, it goes over the exact plan and what to expect.

Then, they load up the planes with 800 gallons of water and hit the sky.

Tanker pilot Steve Sunde describes what he's looking out for while in the sky.

"Check out obstacles, check out people on the ground, and overall be aware of changes and surprises all the time. We don’t like either one of those," he said.


The largest wildfires in U.S. history

The Smokehouse Creek Fire in Texas is already the largest in the state’s history, and it’s still burning. And while everything may be bigger in Texas, the state does not claim the biggest wildfires in U.S. history.

Western Pilot Service has been fighting fires from the skies for the Department of the Interior since the '80s.

"Anywhere in the United States. Our contract is anywhere in the United States," Shears said.

By the time he lands, it's time to take to the skies again to continue training.

The teams are trained and they say the planes are ready. They can fight a wildfire anywhere in the country based right out of here in Buckeye.