WTARI is a 501(c)(3) dedicated to the pursuit of fighting wildfires in a safe, efficient method and with the intention of environmental guardianship. Through the production of the 3,000-gallon BE-200 Air Tanker amphibious aircraft in Santa Maria, California, we will achieve 3 major objectives:

1. Create economic revitalization through the production of over 600 high-growth, high-pay specialized employment opportunities.
2. Help preserve our fragile environmental balance by keeping mega-fires under control.
3. Save firefighters' lives!

Through a partnership with Santa Maria, Allan Hancock College Fire Academy, and the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District, we hope Santa Maria, California becomes the hub of production, training, and employment through the industrial production of the BE-200 Air Tanker.

WTARI Founding Members

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Dennis L. Robinson Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Pictured here with Gov. Jim Gibbons of Nevada, now retired (left).

We were working on a proposal for Air Tanker 910 to fly for Nevada Div. of Forestry.

I am a 33-year veteran and retired fire captain from the Los Angeles City Fire Department. In March of 1998, a tragic helicopter accident took the lives of 3 firefighters, a 12-year-old girl, and eventually took the life of my son. It is in their honor that I have dedicated WTARI to improve wildland firefighting.


Jim Gillum Board Member

On June 6th, 1960, I joined the US Navy and was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Hornet. I worked in the forward engine room. On April 13th, 1968, I joined the Los Angeles City Fire Dept. and served just short of 31 years. During that career, I was involved in many wildland fires, many of which would be classified conflagrations. The loss of homes, barns, and other structures is heartbreaking.

With the ever-increasing fires, it becomes paramount to instigate new and high-tech firefighting tactics. New-designed and manufactured fixed-wing aircraft becomes critically important. I was assigned to the Crash, Fire and Rescue company at Los Angeles International Airport for 20 years and acquired a vast knowledge of aviation theory, operating principles, and construction.

Some of the aircraft used to fight fires now were being used on the carrier I was on, that’s 57 years ago. Things need to change, and WTARI is at the front of this challenge.


Craig Shore Board Member

I live in a community surrounded by mountainous terrain covered by highly volatile fuels. Oaks, sumac, and a variety of annual grasses to name a few, which during the right temperatures, humidity, and wind conditions create the perfect design for disastrous fires. The station fire just a few weeks ago, not more than thirty miles from our home, is an example of what we fear could happen in our neighborhood.

I support Wildfire Tactics & Atmospheric Research Institute and its commitment to improving wildland firefighting.


William Snow Weston II Board Member

My house and possessions burned in the Angora Fire. The event clarified the problems of firefighting in the overstocked forests facing “unseasonable” conditions of high winds and very low fuel moisture.

With my background in aviation and forestry, I know that firefighters need improved tactics and tools to have a chance against the bigger, hotter wildfires.

Talk to Us

WTARI is eager to discuss the serious issue of advancing today's firefighting technology and bringing this exciting new industry to the Central Coast. Contact us today!