Category: AERIAL FIREFIGHTING
Aerial Fire Fighting can and usually is some of the most challenging flying there is. It doesn’t matter if it’s a civilian Air Tanker or a military C-130, this type of flying is challenging and sometimes deadly, as was seen on July 1st 2012, when MAFFS 7 (North Carolina Air National Guard) crashed in south-western South Dakota. The flying involves low- level maneuvering, usually in mountainous terrain, around smoke and flying debris, with a heavy airplanes at hot outside air temperatures. Years of training and experience are required to prepare crews for this kind of precision flying.
Energy management is the key to this type of flying and no amount of training can substitute for a clear understanding of what energy can do for you, or the lack of it can put you in a corner. Being at 100 feet above the ground, 120-140 knots with the flaps …
This past summer there were a number of forest fires in Northern California, record setting I think. The US Forest Service contracted two Dc-10′s to support their aerial fire-fighting efforts through the summer. Due to a bunch of reasons, suffice it to say, they just don’t have enough aerial tankers to do the job. Depending on the day and the type of fire, location to houses or other structures, we may drop on the same fire all day long. This particular fire was about 45 miles east of Chico California in the high terrain near Lake Almanor, just west of Susanville. We had been dropping on this fire for the last couple of days, mixing in with all types of tankers.
There are times when you arrive on scene just to ‘get in line” behind other tankers, waiting your turn and …Read on
The visibility is lousy and the smoke is sitting down
More aerial firefighters have sat on the ground waiting for the visibility to improve, frustrated that they can’t launch. The combination of cooler air and calm winds keeps the visibility restricted, making flying close to the ground impossible. Here the Northern California foothills are obscured first thing in the morning by the remnants of the Ponderosa fire. This effect doesn’t usually last past lunch making a launch order in the afternoon more likely.
I love Black and White; it has“richness” to it that color doesn’t, it has a purity in what it reveals. I use NIK Silver Effect 2 in Photoshop and Lightroom to make these look good. This program is really, really good; the selection, options and control points make it enormously easy. In this shot I made a duotone using the Lightroom gradient tool after I made the B&W in Silver Effects 2, adding a slight hint of blue at the top.
On this particular day we were in Boise switching out crews during normal Aerial Firefighting operations. The Boise Air Tanker base combines both civilian and military MAFFS aircraft rotating into and out of the PITS together. The close proximity of other dissimilar aircraft, both civilian and military can be problematic, but the ground crews do an excellent job directing pilots …
Almost, not always, but almost every time I fly, every time I get in an airplane, no matter what the mission, I see something that routinely amazes me. On this day we dodged a bunch of small thunderstorms and rain-shafts not more than 2-3 miles across as we crossed Wyoming at about 15,500 MSL, heading eastbound toward the Crazy Women VOR to fight a small fire.
Mother nature can kill you quicker than you can sometimes reasonably react and respecting it is a must in this business. Knowing the airplanes limitations, but more importantly your own is what separates a long life of safe effective flying from a farm that the wife buys when your gone.
This storm was small on the RADAR but packs the same deadly punch as its larger cousins that may illuminate red on the screen. …Read on
Tomorrow, the crew of MAFFS 7 will be eulogized in Charlotte by their squadron mates, remembered by their Air Force aerial fire-fighting brethren and grieved for by their families. This is a small community of men and women who come together whenever the nation calls, to help save the lives of people they’ve never met and homes they’ve never seen. They come when called, without hesitation, bringing skill, courage and fortitude to a fight against mother nature. They leave their families and friends, communities and colleges to come as a crew, laying down a line of retardant, to protect what’s not theirs. These men did not immediately think of the possible consequences, or hazards that might await them. They meticulously train in the winter and when the call comes they rely on years of experience to guide them through the dangers …Read on
It is a devastating loss, for all of us. Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to Charloette.
Aerial firefighting has no middle ground when it come to the level of activity. It’s either “full steam ahead” with continous movement all around, or completely quiet, nothing moving, just waiting for the call. I have sat in hangers and on flight-lines for days waiting for the call, only to go home with dropping a single gallon. This is the nature of fire-fighting from the air. I would imaging this is a similar scenario for city and county fire-fighters all over the country.Read on
During the spring in Southern California the weather can be unpredictable, compared to the rest of the year when you can almost set your watch by it. Yesterday, the wind was hollowing, the temp was really, really cold. I felt like I was in Chicago at times, in the middle of January, needing a much heavier jacket. Every year MAFFS (Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System ) training occurs in the spring and this year So Cal was the location.
Aerial Firefighting is a perishable skill and regular training is essential to maintain the aircrews capabilities. Normally this type of training is accomplished in mountainous terrain, but when the weather doesn’t cooperate then you have to come up with an alternate plan. In this case the turbulence was forecast to be occasional severe, well we don’t fly in forecast severe. So we …Read on