Military helicopters activated for wildfires in Switzerland

Above: A military Super Puma takes off with a water bucket to drop water on a fire in southern Switzerland. Photo by Niklaus Watchman.

A month without precipitation in southern Switzerland has led to several wildfires breaking out on the south side of the Alps. Three military Super Puma helicopters are assisting the firefighters on the ground.

Below is an excerpt from an article at blick.ch, translated by Google:

Among the ten armored pilots who flew lighter packs yesterday in the Leventina and Misox with five large heliots, Major Thomas Hügli (35), the commander of the air transport division 6, is also on duty , Insofar as there was no need for work or special assignments. BLICK spoke to him while his heli was being fueled in Soazza GR.

When did your working day start yesterday?
Meeting point was at 7 am in the Operation Center on the military airfield in Alpnach and Dübendorf. After the briefing on the telephone conference, guided by the air transport center in Dübendorf, we first had to pick up our hangar heli in Meiringen.

They fight the larger of the two forest fires on the southern side of the Alps. Is it a dangerous use?
Dangerous but not challenging. The aggravating circumstances include the poor view through the dense smoke. It is difficult to locate the discharge point. In addition strong wind with gusts up to 80 km / h. There are very restless flights.

And then you are not the only heli.
Yes exactly. There are three Super Pumas of the army and up to three private helicopters in action. You have to keep an eye on the others. And communicate and coordinate through radio.

A stubborn fire, a strong wind and lots of traffic: Is not that a frustrating job?
But on the contrary. It provides satisfaction to be useful here and to help the canton and the population. We are there for such missions, they legitimize our work.

They drive a seven-ton machine and throw two tons of water per rotation. Do you feel like a hero?
Not at all. But as a helper. Like 200 other people here and elsewhere.

Actually, the army pilots would be off duty during the holidays. However, they have made themselves available for this emergency operation. What does your family say?
We might have gone to the Engadine today. But my wife and my two daughters (6 and 9) have a lot of understanding for this assignment and find it good that I am with my crew and the crews from Dübendorf in the lot set.

More information about the fires is at Wildfire Today.

An introduction to Victoria’s aerial firefighting fleet

48 helicopters and fixed wing aircraft are on the roster during this down under summer in Victoria.

This summer in Victoria, Australia, the state has arranged for 48 firefighting aircraft to be available. In this video a spokesperson for Victoria Emergency lays out the details. Helpfully, there are subtitles to translate Australian to North American English. 😉

Video of helicopters on the Stouts Creek Fire

This video footage of helicopters on the Stouts Creek Fire in southwest Oregon was shot by Aran Eversman in 2015. The helitack crews were based out of the Myrtle Creek Airport and the pilot of N610WW was Jason Reschke. The fire eventually burned over 26,000 acres.

Air-Cranes in Victoria

Above: Unloading and reassembling the “Ichabod” Air-Crane after it was shipped from Greece to Australia. EMV photo.

The Aussies like to identify their aerial firefighting assets by nickname. In previous years the Air-Crane “Elvis” delighted residents whose homes were being saved. This year in Victoria “Malcolm” and “Ichabod” are on contract.

The information below is provided by Emergency Management Victoria.

****

Victoria’s orange Aircranes Ichabod and Malcolm are two of the stars in Victoria’s aircraft fleet this summer.

The monster helicopters are integral to firefighting operations and are often on the front-line protecting Victorian communities from fire.

emergency management victoriaTo get the aircranes to Victoria each year is quite a journey. Aircrane Ichabod was shipped over from Greece in November after spending the Australian winter fighting fires on the islands and central areas.

Aircrane Malcolm also arrived in November after travelling from the United States where it was used to complete several construction jobs including a complex lift at Crater Lake National Park.

Before they can travel, the aircranes are dismantled so they can be shipped to their next destination where they are then reassembled. It took a team of aviation experts a couple of days to put Malcolm and Ichabod back together after arriving in Geelong. They then underwent maintenance and a general spruce-up, ready for the season ahead.

So they can undertake fire work with the Victorian firefighting fleet, belly tanks and snorkels are added to their armour. Depending on the conditions and water sources available, they can either suck up water or use a bucket on a string to help extinguish fires.

Australia has a contract for six aircranes that come across annually to operate as part of a national fleet jointly funded by the Commonwealth and State Governments.

The air cranes are named Georgia Peach, Incredible Hulk, Delilah, Elsie, Ichabod and Malcolm.

Aircrane Malcolm was named after Malcolm Burgess who was one of the three main design engineers for the military aircrane, while Ichabod was named after the popular cartoon character “Ichabod Crane” in the United States.

Malcolm and Ichabod are part of Victoria’s fleet of 48 firefighting aircraft that has immediate response, air attack and intelligence gathering capability.

Lockheed demonstrates four drones

Above: A remotely-piloted K-MAX prepares to demonstrate dropping water on a fire at Griffiss International Airport. Screen shot from the video below.

On November 8 Lockheed Martin showed off four drones, or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), at conference in Rome, New York. The aircraft included a backpack sized Indago 2, a Sikorsky S-76, and a K-MAX.

The K-MAX attempted to drop water on a small fire but overshot its target.

Last year near Boise, Lockheed demonstrated the remotely piloted K-MAX helicopter dropping water on a simulated fire and hauling cargo in an external load.