When Marines are involved in a fire fight, it usually means bullets, not flames, are in the air. There have been at least 22 military aircraft available for fighting the wildfires in southern California over the last five days, from Camp Pendleton and the Marine Corps Air Station at Miramar. The latter has an official Twitter account where we found these photos:
A total of 19 military helicopters are providing fire suppression support to firefighters in southern California, including eight Marine Corps CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters, seven CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters and four UH-1Y Huey helicopters.
A report from the military:
“SAN DIEGO – Six flight crews from the “Merlins” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 3 provided firefighting support to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) in response to wildfires throughout San Diego County May 15.
At the request of CAL FIRE, the six specially-equipped MH-60S Seahawks are supporting firefighting efforts in the vicinity of Camp Pendleton, Calif. by conducting aerial water drops.
“The critical part of our role is supporting CAL FIRE to help save lives, prevent human suffering and mitigate great property damage,” said Lt. Cmdr. Todd Stansfield, Third Fleet’s Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) lead. “We have Navy personnel and their families that live and work in the areas of San Diego threatened by the fires. Our efforts support both our people and the communities we live in.”
In August 2011, U.S. Third Fleet, Naval Air Forces Pacific and Navy Region Southwest entered into a memorandum of understanding with CALFIRE. Under the agreement, naval units provide helicopters when notified by CALFIRE of weather conditions favorable to wildfires.
Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Wing Pacific prepares ready, trained and certified resources to combat wildfires and crews conduct semi-annual training with CAL FIRE to ensure an immediate response capability in support of local authorities for emergency events. The assigned crews are capable of being airborne within four hours of receiving a request for assistance to combat fires.”
The video shows one of the DC-10 very large air tankers making a drop on the San Miguelito Fire south of Lompoc, California. More information about the fire can be found at webpronews. The DC-10 carries 11, 600 gallons of retardant.
UPDATE: in response to some of the comments, below is a video of the DC-10 making a drop on what is definitely not a long, flat flank.
And another, suggested by “R”:
And, by Steve:
This next video is from the Falls Fire on the west side of Lake Elsinore in southern California, August 5, 2013. Photos taken at the fire, including one from overhead as the DC-10 made the drop, are at Wildfire Today.
This “B roll” footage is from the April 5th, 2014 California National Guard and Cal Fire Joint training exercise at the Cal Fire Training Academy in Ione, California. It includes shots of helicopter takeoff and landings, air crew members, aircraft refueling, helicopter controls, and California National Guard personnel working with civilian firefighting personnel from CAL FIRE.
CAL Fire helicopter pilot Desiree Horton is featured in a news report on MyFoxLA (above). Desiree has been flying helicopters for at least 14 years, including piloting and reporting from news helicopters for several TV stations in Los Angeles, flying on U.S. Forest Service contracts for a firefighting helicopters on the San Bernardino National Forest and in Oregon, doing heavy lifts in a Sikorsky S-58, and then in 2013 flying a fire helicopter for CAL FIRE. She even has her own Wikipedia page, and has been nicknamed “Chopper Chick”: She is currently working on a limited term appointment, but hopes to get a permanent job with CAL FIRE.
Back in the days before FireAviation.com was born, we wrote several articles about Desiree on WildfireToday.com.
Desiree is the first female firefighting helicopter pilot in California working directly for a public agency. However there has been at least one other woman who worked for a private company on a firefighting contract — Bonnie Wilkens, who flew out of Ramona.