Aircraft at Redding, August 7, 2014

We spent some time yesterday at the Redding Air Attack Base in California and shot photos of the aircraft and will be posting them over the next few days. Here are a few to get started. Click on the photos to see slightly larger versions.

T-94 and T-95 at RDD 8-7-2014
T-94 and T-95 at RDD 8-7-2014
AA-240 and AA 505 and Coulson rig at RDD 8-7-2014
AA-240 and AA-505 (OV-10s) and the Coulson support rig at RDD 8-7-2014
AA120 landing at RDD 8-7-2014
AA-120, an OV-10, landing at RDD 8-7-2014
Chinook at RDD
California National Guard Chinook at RDD
Cobras and a Sherpa at RDD
Two Cobras and a Sherpa at RDD , 8-7-2014

All of the photos were taken by Bill Gabbert and are protected by copyright.

National Guard MAFFS and helicopters activated in California


California National Guard helicopters
Chief Brockly is interviewed as the California National Guard helicopters are activated. CNG photo.

The two C-130 MAFFS at the Channel Islands National Guard base in California are being activated to help deal with wildfires in the northern part of the state. Earlier today 17 California National Guard helicopters were also activated. More details are at Wildfire Today.

Colorado acquires firefighting helicopters

Bell 206L4 N538TD
Bell 206L4, N538TD, working on a fire in Miguel County, Colorado, July 21, 2014. CDFPC photo.

For the first time, firefighting helicopters are now under contract and have been working on fires for the state of Colorado. After a couple of years of planning, debating, and legislating, the funds for the Colorado Firefighting Air Corps (CFAC) that the legislature appropriated earlier this year became officially available on July 1. On that date they had their contracts ready to go and on July 9 and 11 awarded them to private companies for one Type 2 and two Type 3 helicopters. The CFAC is within the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC).

The Type 2 helicopter is provided by Trans Aero Helicopters out of Loveland, Colorado. It is a UH1H built in 1970, registration #N60901 and is known as Helicopter 901. It is based at Jeffco Tanker Base in Broomfield, but is currently in Grand Junction on standby for initial attack. It was previously under a Call When Needed contract with the U.S. Department of the Interior.

One of the Type 3 ships is a Bell 206L4, N538TD, operated by Homestead Helicopters out of Missoula, Montana and is designated Helicopter 8TD. It is based in Montrose, Colorado. Homestead has at least three 206s and has had firefighting contracts since 2001.

The other Type 3 is an AStar B3, owned and operated by Brainerd and Firehawk Helicopters out of Florida. It is stationed at Alamosa Airport, but right now is positioned in Craig for initial attack. The company also operates at least one Blackhawk helicopter, which they call a Firehawk.

H-901, N60901
H-901, N60901, on the Radio Fire, July 25, 2014 in Garfield County, Colorado. CDFPC photo.

The DFPC positions all assets, including aviation assets, strategically based on preparedness levels, interagency situational awareness of fire activity, weather, National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) indices, location of other aerial assets, etc.

Colorado issued the Invitations to Bid on the helicopter contracts just last month, in early June. Those of us familiar with the lengthy process for awarding federal aviation contracts will find it refreshing that it does not have to take 523 days, as in the case of the contracts the U.S. Forest Service awarded for next-generation air tankers. But, that is a very low bar for comparison.

The CFAC’s earlier plan was to contract for three or four helicopters in 2014 and up to four large air tankers in 2015 and beyond. We asked DFPC Director Paul Cooke if they still planned to contract for large air tankers next year, and he said:

DFPC has no plans to acquire or contract for large air tankers. If the situation ever warrants reconsideration, DFPC must go back to the Governor and General Assembly for additional funding.

The DFPC has awarded two 120-day contracts for Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs).

They will also purchase two PC-12 multi-purpose fixed wing aircraft. The final provisions of the transaction are currently being negotiated. They expect to have a loaner PC-12 in use by August 15, 2014. More details about the PC-12s are in another article.

Thanks and a hat tip go out to Bean.

Helicopter 205RH on the Bingham Complex

Bingham Complex
Helicopter 205RH on the Bingham Complex. Photo by Richard Parish.

The photo shows helicopter 205RH inserting firefighters on the Bingham Complex on the Willamette National Forest in Oregon. The ship is operated by Hillsboro Aviation and is on contract for the Grants Pass Heli-rappellers. In the photo, pilot Joseph Berto is at the controls and the firefighters in the foreground are Mayfield, Johnson, Hastings, and England.

The Bingham Complex has burned 452 acres in and near the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness. The incident management team is calling it 55 percent controlled.

Thanks and a hat tip go out to Joseph.

Firefighting aircraft at Boise

SEATs 802 and 824 at BOI, July 19, 2014
Tankers 802 and 824 at Boise, July 19, 2014

On Saturday I found myself at the Boise Airport and grabbed some photos of some of the aircraft.

Infrared plane, N149Z
Infrared plane, N149Z, at Boise, July 19, 2014
T-41, a BAe-146, at Boise, July 19, 2014
T-41, a BAe-146, at Boise, July 19, 2014

Back in February we wrote about the BLM awarding the first contract in the United States to Dynamic Aviation for a jet-powered lead plane. It was parked at Boise on Saturday. In May Aviation Week had an interesting article about the history of Dynamic Aviation.

Citation lead plane, N10R,
Citation lead plane, N10R, at Boise, July 19, 2014

As a bonus, below are a couple of pictures of a helicopter working at the Whiskey Creek Complex near Lowman, Idaho.

Helicopter dipping at the Whiskey Creek Fire
Helicopter dipping at the Whiskey Creek Fire near Lowman, Idaho, July 18, 2014
Helicopter with bucket on Whiskey Creek Fire,
Helicopter with bucket on Whiskey Creek Fire, July 18, 2014

Pilot uninjured in Nevada helicopter accident

A helicopter carrying a sling-load crashed while working near the Destoya Fire in Nevada last week, the Bureau of Land Management said Monday.

The aircraft was working on a contractual basis for the BLM, when it had an accident near the fire on July 3. The pilot walked away with no injuries, and the crash is being investigated by the Office of Aircraft Services, said Randy Eardley with the BLM.

Eardley did not know what specifically caused the accident, nor did he know the name of the company on contract.

The BLM office in Elko, Nevada, in the state’s northwestern corner, is coordinating the fire effort.