Rotor Magazine’s current issue, Spring 2014, has a five-page article about the use of helicopters on wildfires. It is apparently written for the pilot with little knowledge about what helicopters do on a fire. You can view the issue online, and if you click the “+” at bottom-right, the text will continue to enlarge to the point where you can read it — then you will have to drag the text around as you scan the article.
They used one of my photos that I submitted for their photo contest. It did not win, but they liked it enough to use it in their magazine.
I took the photo June 29, 2012 a few hours after the White Draw Fire started northeast of Edgemont, South Dakota. It was taken around sunset, in low light with smoke partially blocking the sun. As I panned to follow the helicopter I used a slow shutter speed of 1/40 sec., ISO of 320, and aperture of f/4. The result was a blurred background, and the helicopter is not extremely sharp either — probably the reasons the image did not win a prize in the contest.
I did not see any large air tankers on the fire on the first day, but there was one Single Engine Air Tanker, plus two Type 3 Helicopters (one from the San Bernardino National Forest in California) and a National Guard Blackhawk. Sometimes I wonder if a more aggressive initial attack with overwhelming force from both the air and the ground would have made a difference, perhaps saving four lives two days later.