DC-10 dropping downhill on the Silverado Fire

This video was shot on September 12 and is tagged Silverado Fire at LiveLeak. It may be the same drop made by Tanker 912, a DC-10, shown in the photo below which was taken on the fire the same day. We posted the photo and more information about the Silverado fire on Wildfire Today.

T-912 Silverado Fire

Tanker 912, a DC-10, drops on the Silverado Fire September 12, 2014. Photo by Initial Attack Fire Media. (click to enlarge)

McClellan sets record for retardant pumped in one day

On September 16 the air tanker base at McClellan Airfield near Sacramento set a record for the amount of retardant the base has loaded onto air tankers in one day, putting 187,761 gallons into the aircraft, according to William Appleton, Operations Manager for McClellan Jet Services.  For most of the day the base loaded from one reload pit, Mr. Appleton said.

All of the retardant was used on the King Fire 43 miles east of McClellan near Placerville, California.

Two DC-10s, Tankers 911 and 912, each made eight trips to the King Fire, and smaller air tankers took a total of seven loads. 10 Tanker Air Carrier which operates the DC-10s that usually carry 11,600 gallons, said that was “by far the busiest day our company has ever had.”

NPS presents award to FLIR

FLIR award NPS

Major J. Burks, Major S. Fear, Matt Birnbaum;FLIR Director of Sales, Jenny Brooks; FLIR Mid-Atlantic Territory Manager, Major C. Guddemi and Captain S. Booker. NPS photo.

On Friday, September 5, 2014, the United Stated Park Police, a division within the National Park Service, held an awards ceremony recognizing and honoring FLIR for their dedicated service. FLIR representatives and U.S. Park Police officials gathered at the “Eagle’s Nest” located in Anacostia Park to commemorate FLIR’s contributions and continued support with Inaugural celebrations, 4th of July celebrations, and numerous special events.

U.S. Park Police’s Eagle 2 helicopter is equipped with a FLIR 8500 infrared and color sensor that provides stable thermal imaging as well as color video that assists with a range of law enforcement and rescue operations.

Pioneers in thermal imaging FLIR Systems designs, develops, manufactures, markets, and distributes technologies that enhance perception and awareness.

More articles on Fire Aviation about the NPS’ Park Police aviation unit.

Video from Colorado’s multi-mission aircraft

 Colo IR video

Screen grab from the CDFP&C IR video.

The image above is a screen grab from a video of very raw footage from the loaner multi-mission fixed wing aircraft that the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control (CDFPC) is using until the two aircraft they purchased are delivered by December 1. The video includes visual and infrared images shot from the aircraft on several missions they have been flying since it was delivered a few weeks ago.

We can’t embed the video (which was advertised by the CDFPC on Twitter) but you can see it at YouTube. Unless you really enjoy seeing an aircraft sitting on the tarmac with the prop spinning, you can skip the first minute. The title of the video indicates that it is a work in progress; there is quite a bit of duplication.

Today the Department held another press conference to introduce the aircraft.

Director Paul Cooke aircraft

Director Paul Cooke introduces the press to the CDFPC’s aircraft, September 15, 2014. The IR aricraft (the Pilatus PC-12) on the right, and a contract Single Engine Air Tanker on the left can be seen. CDFP&C photo.

Colorado's PC-12

The design for the paint scheme on Colorado’s PC-12. CDFPC photo.

Medford Airport has two air tanker bases

Medford Tankers by Kristin Biechler (1)

DC-10s, Tankers 910 and 911, at Medford. Photo by Kristin Biechler.

The U.S. Forest Service set up a portable air tanker base at the Medford Airport in southern Oregon to augment the existing air tanker base, enabling it to service Very Large Air Tankers in addition to the smaller tankers. Below is as press release from the agency:


“Release Date: Aug 25, 2014   Medford, Oregon

Contact: Virginia Gibbons, (541) 618-2113

During recent fire activity in the Rogue Valley, many residents have noticed larger aircraft flying in to support firefighting efforts than was possible in past years.

This increased capacity with aircraft is due to the Rogue Valley International Medford Airport and the US Forest Service working together to make improvements to the taxiway and the ramp, allowing for the larger planes. Starting in fire season 2014, two fire retardant airtanker bases are now in operation; the main base that is operated by the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and the Oregon Department of Forestry, and also the new portable Very Large Airtanker (VLAT) base.

The Medford Airtanker Base (MATB) is now able to accommodate all types of airtankers, including “next generation” air tankers (MD87, BAE146, RJ85, Coulson C130Q), and Modular Aerial Firefighting Systems or “MAFFS”, which are military C130s equipped with slide-in retardant tanks.

Next Gen airtankers are newer, faster, less maintenance and provide more pay load compared to the piston-powered legacy fleet of airtankers. Next Gen airtankers have a cruise speed of at least 346 when fully loaded and can hold over 3,000 gallons of retardant. The VLATs hold up to 11,600 gallons of retardant.

“The new ramp improvements, along with the portable VLAT base, are quickly proving to be a significant asset to firefighting efforts across the state of Oregon and Northern California, as well as to Southwest Oregon,” said Medford Air Tanker Base Manager Lonnie Allison.

The two DC-10s (T-910 and T-911) using the Medford VLAT bases are the largest airtankers flying in the nation. The Medford VLAT base is the only base in Oregon that can reload the DC-10’s. Airtankers play an important role in wildfire suppression, particularly during initial attack, by reducing the intensity and rate of spread of wildfires so that firefighters on the ground can safely construct containment lines.

As an example of the increased capacity at MATB, On August 9, the two ATB’s were able to support two large fires in Northern California (Beaver and July Complexes) with the VLAT (T-911) and six other airtankers. Together, these two ATB’s delivered almost 90,000 gallons of retardant to the fires. Approximately 40,000 gallons of retardant were pumped out of the main ATB on 21 airtanker loads and 50,000 gallons out of the VLAT base on 7 airtanker loads.

Now that Medford has two ATB’s, they can reload both the VLATs and other airtankers at the same time. Between VLAT reloads, the ATB is able to divert airtankers from the main ATB to the VLAT base, making both bases more efficient, with quicker load and return times to the fires.

Another recent example of enhanced airtanker support was for the Rogue River Drive fire, which was threatening 130 homes between Sam’s Valley and Shady Cove. On August 11, approximately 20,000 gallons of fire retardant was dropped via seven loads provided by two airtankers. Later that afternoon, both air bases were used to deliver 70,000 gallons of retardant via 33 loads provided by six airtankers; with 21 loads out of the main base and 11 loads out of the portable VLAT base.

On the morning of August 12, 12,000 gallons of fire retardant was dropped via four loads provided by two airtankers to the Grey Back Complex. During the same afternoon, 6,000 gallons of fire retardant was dropped via five loads provided by two airtankers to the Delta Fire in California. The combined total of retardant delivered to fires in southern Oregon and northern California on August 12 totaled approximately 90,000 gallons via 42 loads provided by 8 airtankers delivered to three fires.

The total amount of fire retardant that has been pumped from the two airtanker bases in fire season 2014 is approximately 500,000 gallons; with approximately 420,000 gallons from the main airtanker base and approximately 75,000 gallons from the portable VLAT air base. The 10-year average at MATV for annual fire retardant use is 235,000 gallons per year. With the increased capacity, the Medford Airtanker Base has already doubled the average of retardant for fire season 2014 that is typically pumped for an entire fire season.

Airport Director Bern Case said, “I am thrilled with the tremendous relationship that has been developed with the Medford Airtanker Base and the Rogue Valley International Airport. Working together, we have made a great resource even better. These improvements benefit all in the region.”  “