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Special Thanks to Travis Trout and Idaho Commerce for select regional pictures

BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: Dauntless Air

Updated: Mar 18

At Dauntless Air, our mission is to protect people, land and property against the growing threat of wildland fire.

Based in Appleton, Minnesota, Dauntless Air is the leading U.S. operator of the AT-802F Fire Boss aircraft, the amphibious scooper air tanker purpose-built for rapid and direct initial attack aerial firefighting.


The small, nimble Fire Boss can quickly get off the ground, arrive early at a fire start, and maneuver effectively to the fire’s frontline to drop continuous loads of water on a fire for 3.5 hours straight, without returning to base like larger retardant dropping air tankers. The Fire Boss can drop more water than the much larger DC-10 in an hour. The key to doing this is the airplane’s ability to scoop directly from a water source nearby the fire scene.


A Fire Boss aircraft responding to a wildfire.

The Fire Boss aircraft is the most efficent firefighting and cost-effective resource for rapid and direct initial air attack on the region's wildfires. Europe is well ahead of us on this front.
— Brett L'Esperance, CEO, Dauntless Air

Dauntless works to protect communities against wildland fire through initial response strategies that utilize rapid-attack aircraft on the front lines – in combination with, and often ahead of, ground fire suppression equipment and personnel.


The goal is to contain fires early and keep them small. This allows ground crews to put out blazes more efficiently, helping to limit wildfire devastation and the ever-increasing costs of fire suppression, thus freeing up funds for the federal and state restoration and forest management work that helps prevent catastrophic fires in the first place.


In the inland northwest, Dauntless contracts with Idaho Department of Lands and Washington's Department of Natural Resources. Their response to a regional wildfire is often 30-40 minutes as compared to the 3 to 4 hours typical of the U.S. Forest Service with their large retardant dropping air tankers.

Dauntless Air owns and operates 13 AT-802F Fire Boss aircraft

In 2019, Dauntless relocated its maintenance facility to the Coeur d'Alene Airport. Dauntless Air CEO, Brett L’Esperance, points to the employer-friendly business climate of Idaho, and the quality-of-life amenities that the resort town can offer, as major factors in choosing the site.Two more Fire Boss aircraft will come online in 2020, bringing the fleet to 15. During peak fire season, the Dauntless team is comprised of 62 employees, many of whom will circle through the Coeur D’Alene area during the fire season.


Moving our maintenance operations to Coeur d'Alene will make it much easier for us to recruit and retain employees
— Brett L'Esperance
Dauntless CEO, Brett L'Esperance

Coeur d'Alene has been so welcoming to our company. This will be a significant base for many years to come.
— Brett L'Esperance

To learn more about how to strengthen initial response and direct air attack capabilities, or for general inquiries about Dauntless: