Fire fighting planes..anyone fly one?

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  1. inkjunkie

    inkjunkie Well-Known Member

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    Had the first fire near us that aircraft were used to fight it. Wondering if anyone on here flies one, or perhaps knows someone that does. Really wondering what it feels like when the pilot hits the water...
     
  2. 67Dart273

    67Dart273 FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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    In my opinion some of the most courageous guys and women on the planet
     
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    • Hyper_pak

      Hyper_pak Old School Chrysler Fan

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      Not a plane, but I worked on the prototype for this Blackhawk Firehawk. Sikorsky Firehawk.jpg
       
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      • 5.7 hemi

        5.7 hemi FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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        With all the lakes and reservoirs being down on water, I’m having a hard time believing any planes would be used. But if so, my hats off to the pilots!
         
      • Jim Lusk

        Jim Lusk Well-Known Member

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        A friend of mine works on the planes...
         
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        • 67Dart273

          67Dart273 FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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          The drought up here in the PNW is not like CA, it's more a "this year" thing, so most the lakes, etc are low but not a season--after-season deal..............YET!!!
           
          Last edited: Jul 22, 2021
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          • flingdingo

            flingdingo Well-Known Member

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            I watched a helicopter fill up from someone's pool several times while fighting a brush fire.

            Dude was dodging power wires and tall trees, while fighting a decent wind.

            Those guys have serious skills.
             
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            • go-fish

              go-fish Well-Known Member

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              33D70CFB-8716-457D-99B1-38F016AE66A1.jpeg 66317089-8527-44AF-8514-535B418BA5BE.jpeg 658D568A-D1E3-4CC5-9F55-CC8DC8D76BD4.jpeg Follow "choppertony" on instagram. He's one of our local pilots. Flies for San Diego Sheriffs Office. They have two dedicated helicopters for fire and rescue.
              In California there are VLAT (Very Large Air Tanker) bases out of Redding, Sacramento, Fresno, San Bernadino, and Porterville. In Oregon, the only one I know of is Medford. That is my usual range on the fire engine, although I have fought fire in Arizona and Utah as well.

              VLATs are the Passenger aircraft converted to retardant droppers. Those, an SEATs (Single Engine Air Tankers) is what we mostly get here in SoCal for fixed wing. For helicopters we get the Bell Rangers and Sikorsky Sky Cranes. We have a Sky Crane on my forest (Cleveland National Forest) and can get a fixed wing on station in about 30 minutes.

              We couldn't fight fire the same way without them. While they don't put fires out, there are a lot of fires we couldn't catch without them.
               
              Last edited: Jul 22, 2021
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              • bobscuda67

                bobscuda67 Well-Known Member

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                The aircraft in the air now fighting fires needs to be doubled and the US could do it if the will was there.
                 
              • go-fish

                go-fish Well-Known Member

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                The whole business of Wildland firefighting in the US is a shit show.

                Operationally
                , the boots on the ground and resources in the air have a very efficient system and we run ourselves into the ground every year during fire season making due with very little funding and support from our agencies (USFS,BLM, NPS, BIA, and USFWS).

                From my view, as someone who has been a Hotshot, Helitak, and now fire engines in the US Forest Service, my agency is ran and headed by biologists and butterfly counters. They view Wildland firefighting portion of their workforce as menial labor, unskilled, and replaceable. We have several entry level pay grades that make less money than McDonald’s employees but these kids want to do it because of several noble factors. The higher ups and politicians see us with dirt under our fingernails and ash covered faces and assume manual labor = dummies. We have people leaving the Federal Wildland Firefighting workforce in droves only to be replaced by fresh bodies with less training and experience.

                The Office of Personnel Management and the bean counters at the Agencies have done a very dubious thing in classifying this workforce as “Forestry Technician” for the USFS and “Range Technician” for BLM, National Parks, BIA, and US Fish and Wildlife. There is a job series called “Firefighter” but they are DoD and staff Type 1 (municipal) engines and mostly don’t get any fire calls. In the Wildland Fire workforce we are starting to fight fire all year long and when winter comes we are burning prescribed fires as much as allowed by Smoke Management office, EPA, and fuel moistures. Prescribed fires can get just as dangerous as wild fire and the carcinogen exposure is the same or even more as you stand in the smoke and flames all day.
                For all the pay inequality between us and “real firefighters “, I am hopeful that the Infrastructure Bill does not pass. There is a provision in it to pay the Federal Wildland Firefighter workforce more and to change outer title in OPM to “Wildland Fire Manager”. That’s great but it’s wrapped in that stupid bill that is so damaging to our country.
                Rant over. Back to firefighting aircraft …..
                 
                Last edited: Jul 22, 2021
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                • go-fish

                  go-fish Well-Known Member

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                  65583A0F-DEBF-42BE-9904-21215364BC61.jpeg
                  Air Attack Managers fly in this plane. They manage all the different aircraft coming into the airspace. He flys at the highest altitude in a counterclockwise rotation. They are not allowed to be the actual “lookout” for us ground resources but we routinely ask them advice like “what’s the fire doing on the other side of this ridge?, Do you see any hazards we can’t?”. They’re usually the most experience guys in the whole operation coming from the ground resource world stepping into the air world. They have to have expert knowledge on fire behavior from a firefighters perspective not a pilots perspective. He is not the pilot of the plane but often they get their license and do fly

                  132BD375-AA22-4CA2-A824-0D1C1B708B40.jpeg
                  These can serve as an air attack manager ship and offer night flying capabilities flying IR mapping missions.

                  13329DA6-E801-4459-8DE2-9F811F153C04.jpeg 03308E9B-E22B-4CAF-BA9D-EE8FB025CB3A.jpeg 0F4EB469-F75C-482C-9459-D76509AC8FC9.jpeg 1D4F8A0A-6FC1-48E7-87C6-2420F470C40E.jpeg
                  34B04466-A6DE-4557-8FA9-3A80DB7A2B6B.jpeg
                  Sky Cranes are awesome machines. They spend summers in the US and many of them get put on a boat and head to Australia to fight fire in our winter/their summer. They can have massive payloads for a helicopter. They are a Type 1 Helitanker. 26E333B2-C68F-40DB-8EF6-674F109812EB.jpeg
                  K-Max. Weird looking copter but the rotor configuration allows for a much higher payload. There are 2 rotors side by side. They make a distinctive sound.
                  9990F1A4-E0CB-474A-86E0-7B86A8C4E895.jpeg
                  A variety of Bell helicopters provide troop transport and small helitanker capabilities. They are highly versatile. Helitak Crews are deployed from these aircraft by landing or rappelling into the fire. Usually six firefighters are deployed and the helicopter will attach a bucket or if they are equipped with a belly tank they will find a water source and start doing water drops.
                  E06CF53E-30A9-4B2C-A8DB-C77ABE41D319.jpeg
                  These guys are usually worthless as tits on a boat hog. Not very accurate.
                   
                  Last edited: Jul 22, 2021
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                  • 67Dart273

                    67Dart273 FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                    Around here with small lakes it seems to me we need a lot of water based aircraft. This allows quick turn around especially with small country airports that might not have tremendous access to high volume water supplies. On the other had I read that such planes as the old PBY were actually less efficient for water delivery, than the smaller "air boss" aircraft, so WTF I know
                     
                  • go-fish

                    go-fish Well-Known Member

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                    I would assume you heard someone say “air boss” aircraft and thought it was a water or retardant dropping aircraft. “Air Boss” is what the ATGS (Air Tactical Group Supervisor) is called. That is Air Attack I mentioned under the first picture. They are the airspace manager and do not make drops or have that capability. They tend to fly above all of the water dropping aircraft and stay on station the longest amount of time.

                    All of the older aircraft are less efficient but they were not useless. Many of the aircraft today improved on what the older ones offered. The Bombardier above is just the latest in a long line of similar styles “Super Scoopers”. They need a large body of water.

                    The P3 Orion is a great aircraft that used to be a Navy sub hunter and eves dropping aircraft. Very good aircraft. Great airframe and good parts availability. The Navy just recently decommissioned the airframe. We have long used converted military aircraft.

                    As far as efficiency, once it gets above the fire, it is the VLATs. The converted passenger airliners. They can lay over a mile of retardant (pink stuff). They can do split load and salvo (all at once) loads.

                    What happens is the “Air Boss” or ATGS (call sign=Air Attack) determines where he wants the retardant or water using his ground and fire behavior experience. He will tell the VLAT pilot what flank or ridge line to make the drop and clear the airspace of helicopters and smaller planes like SEATs.

                    Sometimes there is a Lead Plane which is a small jet prop plane that can fly ahead of the VLAT and lay down smoke in the line that the VLAT needs to take. Sometimes they will make a practice run if it is a difficult drop. A difficult drop may be where the VLAT has to maneuver terrain. He’s got to be low enough to get the retardant to lay thick but be high enough to climb and bank out of the terrain.

                    When the VLAT pilot has received his mission he determines air speed and distance the drop needs to cover. He will then dial up the parameters on a keypad and it tells the system how long to hold the doors open and how open the doors need to be.

                    VLATs need commercial length runways so it takes a long time to get on station sometimes. When they finally get to the fire they often are the deciding factor on whether we can catch the fire today. Sometimes, they get diverted to another fire (usually because the other fire is threatening communities). They can be a game changer. I guess they’re not really efficient due to the longer ready time but they can really change the dynamics when they do get there.

                    Helicopters are what we want the most of due to troop shuttling and versatility.
                     
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                    • Rick@Laysons

                      Rick@Laysons FABO Vendor FABO Vendor

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                      To go-fish.....

                      THANK YOU!!!!!! for all that you do!!!!
                       
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                      • 67Dart273

                        67Dart273 FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                        I should have looked it up. I was referring to the fairly new "Fire Boss" such as AT-802F stuff Basically an air tractor with specialized tanker floats

                        (Evidently some models use the internal tank(s) and some scoop directly into compartments in the floats)

                        at-802F-Fire-Boss-10-V2.jpg
                         
                        Last edited: Jul 22, 2021
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                        • go-fish

                          go-fish Well-Known Member

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                          Ahhh, that is in the SEAT category. Single Engine Air Tanker. They use modified crop dusters out to n the desert too but obviously not with the scooping capabilities. Just load and return.
                          Never seen anything scoop in SoCal or AZ. Only seen scoopers working north of the Sierras.
                           
                        • H22A4

                          H22A4 Does anyone read this?

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                          It’s too bad these big water bombing birds are not still in active service. It sure was nice to see one of these flying by to make a massive dump a few years ago. While it takes more than one pass to put out a healthy fire, it felt good knowing the largest tool was being used to try to solve the problem (providing there was a large enough body of water nearby).

                          Flying Tankers inc. - the largest flying boats ever flown operationally
                           
                        • Calipag

                          Calipag FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                          My pilots used to fight fires with a small belly tank on our old MD500D our new MD500E's are not equipped with fire fighting equipment due to our weight situation with PD equipment. They loved doing it!

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                          • go-fish

                            go-fish Well-Known Member

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                            MD500’s are badass
                             
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                            • Calipag

                              Calipag FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                              They are the Porsche of the sky, for sure! Too bad the company is so poorly run. Most law enforcement, air ambulance and tour operators have gone to the Airbus, but most pilots agree there is nothing more fun to fly compared to a 500!
                               
                            • Tooljunkie

                              Tooljunkie King of cobble/master of the broken bolt FABO Gold Member

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                              Here in canada, Manitoba is where i live. The water bombers are the CL-215’s have a friend that worked on them for many years. Being a pilot on one of those is a tough job to get. another friend is one of the chiefs that calls the shots for the water bombers in what they call the bird dog.he was boots on the ground for many years.
                              Less than a mile away is the helitac base,houses about 50 firefighters. I worked a couple summers as a helitorch technician on the backburn team. I was responsible for assembling and connecting the torch to the helicopter,mixing the juice and launching and landing. There is nothing more unnerving than a helicopter landing less than 3 feet from me.

                              I have the utmost respect for the tac crews,as i did it a few summers in my youth. Its tough,dirty dangerous and unrelenting. Imagine going balls out dawn to dusk for 21 days straight.
                              We finally got a break, after a month or more of no rain. Had a good soaking last night and the helicopters arent flying in and out steady.
                               
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                              • go-fish

                                go-fish Well-Known Member

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                                I was 34 when I got into the job. I was in the military, ran with the Special Ops types, came back from Iraq and didn’t quite fit back into society. I had always wanted to be a firefighter so I started taking Fire Science courses and got my EMT license. Did some ride alongs with a couple of big city departments and realized how public the job is and decided to go into Wildland Firefighting. At 41 I am just behind the fastest young guys on the runs and hikes but I can still work all day and night for a 15-21 day assignment. It just comes down to being smart and not getting injured and keeping on top of your physical fitness. Eat right and don’t drink B08029C5-A794-4DDD-82BC-AB30BB085309.jpeg
                                Helispot at 11,000 ft. Flying in supplies and people. Had to do a Medevac on this fire. 3D5ED73D-B24E-49D0-A247-D6DBCA9CB71F.jpeg
                                Type 1 Helitanker (Sky Crane) making a drop. These things are absolutely massive.

                                EADBBFBD-870E-4AC5-9558-824AA1476D62.jpeg
                                This is a Delta 160th SOAR (Special Operation Air Regiment?) Apache. We did a lot of interoperability training with these guys at Fort Campbell, KY.
                                 
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                                • go-fish

                                  go-fish Well-Known Member

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                                  Not my video but it is a 160th SOAR Chinook picking up some SEALs. They can also deliver the bigger SWCC (Brown Water Navy) boats via Chinnok.

                                  Pilots with combat experience make the best fire pilots.

                                   
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                                  • inkjunkie

                                    inkjunkie Well-Known Member

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                                    One of the planes the other day was a CL215, the other 2 looked like the Grumann S2T. Thank You for everything you do.
                                    Few years back we had a fire across the river, a meth cook house exploded. The meth heads got out before the explosion. They hid from the LEO that were going door to door, telling people that were closest to the fire they had to leave. Home owners left...meth heads started breaking in to their homes. Someone had trail cameras in their yard, said meth heads went to jail.
                                    Several helicopters were used to fight that fire. One of them had some sort of electrical malfunction...he was attempting to land in the open field in front of my house. He was about 10' off the ground when the rotors stopped...pretty rough way to land. The two people in the helicopter were not injured. Took them close to 3 weeks to get the parts for it. The entire time a member of DNR sat in/near the helicopter. Every 12 hours a new DNR member would show up. We went thru a lot of coffee and water bottles....
                                     
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                                    • peedee

                                      peedee Well-Known Member

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                                      Heard on our news the other day our airbus is coming over to assist
                                       
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