Above: Air Tanker 262, a CL-415, in Oklahoma, April 7, 2016. Photo by John Wilson.
John Wilson sent us photos of the two CL-415 water-scooping air tankers that are on U.S. Forest Service exclusive use contract. We were not sure which two AeroFlite aircraft were on the contract until we saw his photos. Now we know it is T-261 and T-262. We updated the 2016 contract list first published March 2, 2016.
John said the air tankers were seen near Bethel Acres, Oklahoma. They were most likely scooping water from Shawnee Twin Lakes in Pottawatomie County and then dropping the water on a fire a few miles to the south.
It was early evening and I was losing light but the Nikon handled it pretty well. I didn’t realize there was more than one aircraft until I started processing the images and noticed the tanker numbers.
You can’t see the actual retardant drop behind the trees, but in the video there is a decent shot of Tanker 03, a BAe-146, exiting the drop area at the Varsity Fire south of Bristow, Oklahoma on April 7, 2016. It was recorded by Matt Mcspadden.
Most of this video shot from an aerial platform Sunday afternoon shows general footage of a wildfire burning in Logan County, Oklahoma, but at the beginning and again at about 7:30 it has shots of two National Guard Blackhawk helicopters dropping on the fire. On most of the scenes they show where the water lands, rather than, like most news footage, continuing to follow the aircraft as it leaves the fire.
Three blazes in the area burned a total of about 1,300 acres, destroyed several structures, and required the closure of an interstate highway.
A voluntary evacuation order was issued for residents living east of Choctaw Rd., north of Prairie Grove Rd. all the way to highway 105 and on the north, as well as at Triple X Rd. on the east; a total of approximately four square miles, including the town of Meridian, Okla. The evacuation order was lifted just after 5:30 p.m.
The Oklahoma Red Cross opened a wildfire evacuation center at the First Christian Church, located at 402 E. Noble, in Guthrie.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) had to shut down Interstate 35 in both directions, at mile marker 163, due to multiple car crashes in the area caused by the wild fire crossing the highway. Troopers reopened I-35 in both directions around 4:30 p.m. The highway was closed for approximately one hour and fourteen minutes.
The first fire started in the area of Hiwassee in Guthrie and stretched to Henney Rd. in Coyle. Firefighters contained the fire shortly after it began. Then a second fire sparked in the area of Redland Rd. and County Road 0730. A third fire flared up just south of Seward Rd., about two miles west of I-35.
These photos of Aero-Flite’s brand new CL-415, Tanker 260, were taken May 7 by Chet Dodrill of Chloeta Fire. The aircraft was at Wiley Post Airport in Oklahoma City along with a King Air 200 air attack platform.
The word of mouth in the area is that the local firefighters were very pleased with the work T-260 did on the recent fires near Guthrie and Woodward, Oklahoma. One of the lakes it was scooping from on the Guthrie fire was five to ten miles away from the fire, which allowed quick turnarounds.
The registration number on the plane is N389AC.
UPDATED May 9, 2014: The photo below was posted on the Oklahoma Forestry Services Facebook page today, with this caption: “The aircraft, a CL415 Airtanker, a Single Engine Airtanker (SEAT) & an air attack platform lined up for the Media Day today.”
Below is the text of a press release issued by Bombardier in November when the sale of the aircraft was announced. It was posted on the Tenax website:
“Today, Bombardier celebrated the sale and delivery of its 50th iconic Bombardier 415 superscooper aircraft assembled at its North Bay, Ontario facility. The aircraft, purchased by a partnership led by Tenax Aerospace, LLC of Ridgeland, Mississippi, will be used under contract to the United States Forest Service starting next month. Based on the list price, the Bombardier contract is valued at approximately $34.5 million USD.
The Bombardier 415 superscooper aircraft is a world-renowned firefighter and adapts to the roughest terrain and the only aircraft specifically built as an aerial firefighting airplane. It is able to land on unpaved runways, lakes, rivers and seas, enabling both rapid initial attacks to extinguish fires and sustained attacks to contain fires.
“Today, we are celebrating two milestones: the 50th Bombardier 415 aircraft assembled in North Bay, Ontario as well as the first United States Bombardier 415 aircraft sale and delivery,” said Michel Bourgeois, President, Specialized and Amphibious Aircraft, Bombardier Aerospace. “I want to congratulate the employees for this achievement and to welcome the Tenax team to the amphibious aircraft family. This is yet another testament to the true value of the expertise of our employees and of our superscooper aircraft that remains the top aerial firefighting choice around the world,” he continued.
While the 50th Bombardier 415 aircraft to roll out of North Bay, Ontario is the first to be sold to a United States customer, a total of five State and privately owned CL-215 aircraft, the predecessor to the Bombardier 415 aircraft, are currently operated in the United States.
Since the first Bombardier 415 amphibious aircraft was delivered in 1994, a total of 85 Bombardier 415 and four Bombardier 415 MP aircraft have been delivered to governments and firefighting agencies around the world. In addition, 80 CL-215 and CL-215T amphibious piston aircraft remain in service worldwide.
About the Bombardier 415 aircraft
The Bombardier 415 firefighter aircraft has a normal cruise speed of 180 KT (333 km/h) under certain conditions. In an average mission of six nautical miles (11 kilometres) distance from water to fire, it can complete nine drops within an hour and precisely deliver 14,589 US gallons (55,233 litres) of fire suppressant.”
Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, have been in the news recently. FireFlight UAS, a company in Oklahoma that manufactures small versions of the aircraft, is adding to the hype by marketing their products to firefighters. According to NewsOn6, they have convinced John Hansen, the Director of the Oklahoma Council on Firefighter Training, the vehicles could provide valuable intelligence during suppression of wildfires.