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The fire season officially began in the Intermountain West this week, and U.S. Forest Officials officials are preparing by shining two DC-3 airplanes.

"We mainly go through the airplane with a fine-tooth comb," said Forest Service pilot Jay Thomson. "We're ready."The Forest Service has two DC-3s stationed in Ogden that transport smokejumpers, firefighters and cargo to forest fires nationwide throughout the dry season.

"We've had that airplane virtually all over the United States," Thomson said.

"It is a neat airplane," he said. "It's the safest airplane that's ever been built."

Built by McDonald-Douglas, The DC-3 has been named the "single most important aircraft in the history of air transportation" by the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

The first DC-3 flew on Dec. 17, 1935. Military versions of the DC-3 were produced from 1941 to 1945. Production of the plane stopped in 1946.

The Forest Service aquired its first DC-3 from the U.S. Border Patrol in 1964 and its second plane in 1975 from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Thomson has about 7,000 hours flying time, with 1,000 of those hours in the DC-3.

"It's a joy," he said of the DC-3. "It's nostalgia, it's part of aviation history. You can compare it to a World War II mission."