Aerial firefighting footage, including an air tanker’s first fire drop

This video footage that streamed live on KTVU July 11 starts with a fire at an industrial facility near Doolittle and Eden in San Leandro, California. Then the helicopter flies over to a vegetation fire in the San Jose foothills that was threatening homes at Claitor Way and Lariat Lane. It appears the fire started near structures and continued to spread through the rolling hills. The video captures many helicopter water drops, and also the first retardant drop on a real fire by Coulson’s newest air tanker, Tanker 133, an L-382G, which is a civilian variant of the C-130. (Articles tagged T-133 on Fire Aviation are here.)

Air tanker 133 fire
Air tanker 133’s first drop on a real fire.

You probably don’t have the patience to sit through an hour and a half of video, so here’s a tip. T-133 first appears at about 1:07:30. It makes two passes then drops the third time.  After that there’s many water drops from CAL FIRE and other helicopters. There are also several S-2T drops; I was able to see one number, T-83. I skipped around quite a bit looking for interesting activity.

Many of the helicopter drops after the 1:09 mark were an attempt to stop a portion of the fire that was burning in a steep canyon that had heavy fuels. Dozers were following behind the water and retardant drops, putting in fireline.

All of these images are screengrabs from the KTVU video.

helicopter water drop
A CAL FIRE helicopter makes a precision water drop, July 11, 2017.
Air tanker 133 fire
Air tanker 133’s first drop on a real fire.

I want to congratulate the KTVU camera operator. Like many of his or her brethren in California who have probably covered many, many wildfires, they zoomed in on the air tankers as they were maneuvering, but as they dropped retardant the camera operator zoomed out so you could see the entire drop and where the retardant landed. Sometimes in this video they would linger on that spot for a while so you could see the effect on the fire. I have noticed that video shot from helicopters in other parts of the country often maintain the close shot of the aircraft as it drops and flies out of the area, and you often can’t see where the retardant landed. An example is in this article; check out the video at 2:44:00 (yes, that’s 2 hours and 44 minutes).

Photos of air tankers on the Goose Fire

Above: Air Tanker 66, a DC-7

These photos were taken by Bob Martinez, a Volunteer in Prevention Photographer with CAL FIRE. They were taken on the Goose Fire near Prather, California, about 18 miles northeast of Fresno. Thanks Bob!

The Goose Fire has burned 2,241 acres and 4 homes and is approaching containment.

air tanker 76
Air tanker 76, an S2-T
air tanker 132
Air tanker 132, an L-382G
air tanker 83
Air tanker 83, an S2-T
air tanker 40
Air tanker 40, a BAe-146

Sacramento aircraft

We had an opportunity to photograph some of the aircraft at McClellan Air Force base today. Click on the photos to see larger versions.

S2T
CAL FIRE S2Ts at McClellan AFB March 17, 2014. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
OV-10
CAL FIRE OV-10s at McClellan AFB March 17, 2014. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
P3
P3s at McClellan AFB March 17, 2014. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
P3 at McClellan AFB March 17, 2014. Anyone know why this aircraft has "MAFFS" painted on it? Photo by Bill Gabbert.
P3 at McClellan AFB March 17, 2014. Anyone know why this aircraft has “MAFFS Protection from Above” painted on it? Photo by Bill Gabbert.
P3
P3s at McClellan AFB March 17, 2014. Photo by Bill Gabbert.