The fire eventually burned 120,000 acres south of Provo, Utah
In this video a DC-10 Very Large Air Tanker drops fire retardant on the Pole Creek Fire that eventually burned 120,000 acres south of Provo, Utah. The video was shot September 20, 2018 from a mapping aircraft operated by Owyhee Air Research, Inc.
— Bureau of Land Management Idaho Fire (@BLMIdahoFire) July 14, 2019
It is interesting that the lead plane was much lower than the DC-10. If the tanker had dropped at that height it would have been an extremely low drop and the retardant would have been rapidly moving forward when it impacted the ground. Maybe the lead was low to give the following air tanker pilot a better 3-D perspective of what piece of ground it was over when they released smoke or said “start here”, and they have already agreed on the drop height.
It is interesting that a drone the U.S. Navy is buying by the dozens is named “Fire Scout”. It is probably only a matter of time before large drones like this one and the K-MAX which has already been demonstrated for fire managers are seen routinely over wildfires hauling supplies, equipment, and providing intelligence.
The Fire Scout, based on the Bell 407, can remain on station for up to twelve hours depending on the payload. The Navy plans to purchase 38 of the Northrop Grumman produced aircraft.
The Department of the Interior is rapidly developing drone capability for aerial ignition and gathering intelligence on fires. An aircraft like this or the K-MAX that could haul hundreds of pounds of supplies, serve as a radio or cell phone repeater, and provide real time video, might be the next giant leap for the DOI. Of course smaller drones can also perform intelligence gathering and communications tasks.
Below is information from the Naval Air System Command:
Published July 8, 2019
NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md — The Navy declared initial operational capability of the MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter June 28 clearing the way for fleet operations and training.
The MQ-8 Fire Scout is a sea-based, vertical lift unmanned system that is designed to provide reconnaissance, situational awareness, and precision targeting support for ground, air and sea forces.
“This milestone is a culmination of several years of hard work and dedication from our joint government and industry team,” said Capt. Eric Soderberg, Fire Scout program manager. “We are excited to get this enhanced capability out to the fleet.”
The MQ-8C variant is an endurance and payload upgrade to its predecessor, the MQ-8B, offering up to twelve hours on station depending on payload, and incorporates the commercial Bell 407 airframe.
The Northrop Grumman-built Fire Scout complements the manned *MH-60 helicopter by extending the range and endurance of ship-based operations. It provides unique situational awareness and precision target support for the Navy.
The MQ-8C has flown over 1,500 hours with more than 700 sorties to date. Over the next few years, Northrop Grumman will continue MQ-8C production deliveries to the Navy to complete a total of 38 aircraft.
The MQ-8C will be equipped with an upgraded radar that allows for a larger field of view and a range of digital modes including weather detection, air-to-air targeting and a ground moving target indicator (GMTI). It will deploy with LCS in fiscal year 2021 while the MQ-8B conducts operations aboard LCS in 5th and 7th Fleets.
*The Sikorsky SH-60/MH-60 Seahawk is a twin turboshaft engine, multi-mission United States Navy helicopter based on the United States Army UH-60 Black Hawk and a member of the Sikorsky S-70 family.
The aircraft still needs a retardant delivery system
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) has taken one visible step toward incorporating the seven HC-130H aircraft into their air tanker fleet. One of them, Tanker 118, showed up at Sacramento McClellan Airport today sporting new livery. And it’s clearly identifiable as a CAL FIRE aircraft, with CAL FIRE in bold letters behind the cockpit, and below the wing is the state flag. The paint design is similar to that on their S-2T air tankers.
The aircraft was operated off an on for a couple of years by the FS using a slip-in Modular Airborne FireFighting System (MAFFS) retardant system. It was borrowed from the program of using military C-130s during busy portions of fire seasons when a surge capacity was needed. All seven HC-130H aircraft were supposed to receive retardant tanks, but the U.S. Air Force, responsible to see that it was done, dithered on that program for years and it never happened.
T-118 will be getting the rudder painted soon, and one day may receive a conventional internal gravity-powered retardant delivery system.
Chief of CAL FIRE Thom Porter said he expects it to be ready to fight fire in 2021.
If you ever need to kill some time, you can read through the 40 or so articles on Fire Aviation about the troubled U.S. Forest Service HC-130H program. The are all tagged HC-130H.
A P3 Air Tanker, Tanker 23, made a demonstration water drop at Northern Colorado Regional Airport in Loveland, Colorado June 28, 2019 while Colorado’s Pilatus PC-12 MultiMission aircraft filmed it from 20,000 feet. The aircraft has a Call When Needed contract with the state of Colorado for fighting wildfires.
This month the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) is beginning a trial of a night-flying firefighting helicopter that can refill its collapsable external water tank while hovering. Thanks to a $4 million grant from Southern California Edison the OCFA has awarded a 150-day contract to Coulson Aviation for two helicopters that will be based at the Fullerton Municipal Airport northwest of Anaheim, California (map).
The one that will be most visible is an S-61 that can carry up to 1,000 gallons of water. As demonstrated during the recent bushfire season in Australia the Coulson helicopter can hover over a water tank at night and use a hose to refill the tank. Night-flying helicopters have been used in the United States since the 1970s to fight fires, but until a few months ago they always had to land to reload, with firefighters on the ground dragging hose, connecting it, pumping water into the tank, disconnecting, and moving out of the way as the helicopter takes off. Hover refilling is more time-efficient.
Firefighting at night can be more effective, since usually winds subside, relative humidity increases, and temperatures decrease, resulting in lower intensity and rates of spread.
The second helicopter that is part of the trial is a Sikorsky S-76 that will work with the S-61 to provide intelligence, evaluate effectiveness, and identify targets with a laser designator. In Australia the S-76 orbited approximately 1,000 feet above the S-61 and used a GPS controlled illuminated laser pointer to inform the water dropping helicopter where to drop the loads. The S-61 is fitted with night vision goggles but also has twin adjustable Night Suns on the landing gear along with the helicopter searchlights.
The two helicopters will be staffed 24/7 and will be available to all regions serviced by Southern California Edison including Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties.
Orange County’s regular helicopter fleet consists of two Super Hueys and two Bell 412ep ships, and has been using night-flying helicopters for years.
Nightflying BrushFire helicopters. OCFA Chief Brian Fennesey announces 150 day trial of Helo’s with Night Vision Technology for aerial brush fire attacks. Smaller chopper directs water drops & gives readings on effectiveness. So Cal Edison provides $4 M funding. @KNX1070pic.twitter.com/H8WGd0bi9y
The Horse Butte Fire has burned 9,400 acres approximately 18 miles northwest of Aberdeen, Idaho. The lightning-caused fire has been moving actively through brush and tall grass. Firefighters are expecting to have it contained by the end of the day on Monday.
The photo below shows a DC-10 Very Large Air Tanker, Tanker 912, dropping on the fire.