CASPER, Wyo. — Rick Hopf needs to go bomb a fire.
The DC-10 air tanker he flies has stood by, resting on the apron of the Casper/Natrona County International Airport all day Tuesday, as smaller aircraft fight the flames scorching Casper Mountain.
But the midafternoon call has come.
Hopf is polite but firm to a few people visiting the plane: "We do have a dispatch, so I'm going to have ask you to leave."
The three-person crew — Hopf, fellow pilot Dan Montelli and flight engineer Rich Joseph — don flight suits and close the hatch.
A ground crew loads the giant tanks slung under the belly of the jet with 11,700 pounds of orange fire retardant mixed with water from nearby tanks.