U.S. Forest Service Smokejumpers

Image of Bill Carver, foreman in smokejumper unit at Missoula, Montana, 1954. Forest Service smokejumper at tree level nearing the landing spot, Lolo National Forest, Montana, 1956.

Following World War I, the Forest Service began the very initial stages of using aircraft for aerial fire detection in parts of the western United States. In 1935, the Aerial Fire Control Experimental Project was created to fund experiments in the use of water and chemical bombs for fire suppression. The Aerial Experimental Project was moved from California to the North Pacific Region (Region 6) area in 1939 and the project's focus was switched to experimenting with parachute jumping. The next year, 1940, saw the first operational use of smokejumpers by the Forest Service. The first official jumps in history were made on the Nez Perce Forest in Idaho in July 1940.

Selected Resources:

Browse historic images of smokejumping in the FHS online photo gallery:
Fire Suppression - Smokejumpers.

View historic footage of U.S. Forest Service smokejumpers in this video clip from the Forest History Society YouTube Channel.

History of Smokejumping. Prepared by: Aviation & Fire Management, Northern Region, Missoula, Montana, 1980.

Smokejumpers Oral History Project (external link).

HOME  :  ABOUT US  :  FRIENDS & SUPPORTERS   :  RESEARCH CENTER   :  PUBLICATIONS
EDUCATION  :   FELLOWSHIPS & AWARDS  :   EVENTS & PROJECTS  :  CONTACT US  :  DONATE
© 2016 FOREST HISTORY SOCIETY
Updated: 4/25/2014