On Wednesday October 11 a new record was set for the number of gallons loaded into air tankers in one day at the air tanker base at McClellan Air Field near Sacramento — 311,000 gallons. But the next day, October 12, they blew that record out of the water, pumping 387,655 gallons.
With seven large fires burning within 40 to 80 miles of McClellan Air Field near Sacramento, the air tanker base there has been extremely busy for the last week with 12 air tankers working out of the facility at times.
Click on the Instagram image below to see a fascinating time-lapse video of aircraft activity at the base.
With seven large fires burning within 40 to 80 miles of McClellan Air Field near Sacramento, the air tanker base there has been extremely busy this week with 12 air tankers working out of the facility at times. Along with the 1,200 to 4,000-gallon air tankers, the very large DC-10 and 747 air tankers using the base need about 12,000 to 19,000 gallons each time they park in a retardant pit.
On Wednesday October 11 a new record was set for the number of gallons loaded into air tankers in one day at the base — 311,000 gallons.
Between October 9 and 11, Tanker 944, a 747, flew 13 sorties and dropped 215,489 gallons of retardant in the 3 day period. The DC-10’s undoubtedly also played a large role in achieving the new record.
A man was killed Saturday October 7 during Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) operations on the Brian Head Fire in southwest Utah. The 58-year old crew member on the ground from Alpine, Utah was giving directions to a helicopter dropping straw mulch when he was struck on the head. The pilot saw the injured man and contacted others who called 911.
Brian Head Marshall Jeff Morgan was flown to the remote site off State Route 143 about 1:45 p.m. and determined that the man had died.
A statement from the Iron County Sheriff’s Office read:
It was determined he likely died as a result of blunt force trauma from falling debris during the airdrop.
It was not clear from the statement if the man was hit by straw mulch or debris from a nearby tree as the straw fell.
The identity of the person killed has not been released.
Since an aircraft was involved in the fatality the National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating the accident.
The Brian Head Fire burned over 63,000 acres in late June. On August 25 BAER teams began dropping 3,200 tons of wheat straw from helicopter nets to cover the soil surface. The additional ground cover increases the germination of seeds dropped earlier and helps absorb raindrop impact lessening water runoff potential.
Our sincere condolences go out to the family, friends, and coworkers. Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Charlie. Typos or errors, report them HERE.
It is working for FEMA on a Hurricane response mission.
Above: the route for Coulson’s S-61. Coulson image.
Coulson has received government contracts for their air tankers and helicopters to fight wildfires in the United States, Canada, and Australia. Now they have added Puerto Rico to the list of remote mobilizations. Their Sikorsky S-61, after fighting fires all summer, flew there last week, arriving September 29. It is under contract with FEMA to assist with the response to Hurricane Maria.
Spectators in Missoula enjoyed seeing water drops and flyovers.
Above: Neptune’s Tanker 05, a P2V, makes a red, white, and blue water drop at Missoula, September 30, 2017. Photo by Terry Cook.
(Originally published at 5:30 p.m. MDT October 1, 2017)
Yesterday Neptune Aviation Services officially retired the last of their P2V air tankers in a ceremony at the Missoula airport. This year the company had four of the former submarine hunters on contract that were built between 1954 and 1957 — Tankers 05, 06, 14 and 44. In 2012 ten P2Vs were on contract with the U.S. Forest Service operated by Neptune and Minden.
Neptune planned a fairly elaborate program Saturday with prize drawings, several water drops, numerous food trucks, a water drop from successive tanks with red, white, and blue water, and a formation flyover of their last four P2Vs on contract.
Neptune has been operating the P2V air tankers for 24 years. Many pilots and warbird fans enjoy flying, seeing, or hearing the aircraft and the throaty roar of its two 18-cylinder radial engines. When extra power is needed during takeoff or after a 2,000-gallon drop to climb out of a canyon it can enlist the help of two small jet engines farther out on the wings.
Greg Jones, Program Manager for Neptune Aviation, said the tankers will be taken to museums across America.
The planes are going to be stored short term in Alma Gorda, New Mexico. We will ferry them down the next couple weeks and then they will be dispersed throughout museums across the United States.
In 2009, working with Tronos, Neptune began converting jet airliners, BAe-146-200s, into air tankers, adding a 3,000-gallon retardant tank. In 2017 they had seven of them on exclusive use contract.
To our knowledge the jets have not suffered any catastrophic failures or major incidents since they began dropping on wildfires. In the first half of this decade P2Vs were involved in a number of troublesome landings and in one case a crash while dropping on the White Rock Fire near the Utah/Nevada state line, killing all three crewmembers. Two P2Vs operated by Minden encountered landing gear failures, and those aircraft have not been seen over a fire since the incidents. Other fatal crashes occurred in 2008 and 2009.