Extreme water drop by LA FD helicopter

Small fire on a steep slope in Los Angeles above the Pacific Coast highway

LA City AW-139 makes a water drop
LA City FD AW-139 makes a water drop on a fire near the Pacific Coast Highway, May 24, 2020. Image from video by Blake Lawrence and Jacob Wilson.

An AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter operated by the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) made a couple of very interesting water drops Monday on a wildfire above the Pacific Coast Highway.

The fire was on a steep slope, so the pilot(s) may have been employing tactics to allow the water to be traveling horizontally when it struck the ground, or, out of the camera frame may have been crowds of people and structures that the pilots wanted to avoid. Or both.

Last year I interviewed Brandon Prince, one of the LAFD pilots who gave us a great deal of information about the city’s helicopter fleet. For firefighting they use their five AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters. They usually begin a mission with half a tank of fuel which allows them to have the 480-gallon belly tank about half full of water.

The aircraft also have a smaller tank for Class A foam which can be injected into the tank to improve the wetting capability of the water.

The LAFD AW139’s have retractable snorkel hoses which allow them to hover while refilling with water, but Mr. Prince said they nearly always land to reload.

Los Angeles Fire Department helicopters
Two Los Angeles Fire Department AW139 helicopters prepare to take off on a mission to rescue a hiker in distress, January 26, 2020. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

Typos, let us know HERE. And, please keep in mind our commenting ground rules before you post a comment.

5 thoughts on “Extreme water drop by LA FD helicopter”

  1. Well,
    He was basically at sea level so I’m guessing he had plenty of power. Still a bit too hot doggy for my taste.

  2. May have been warranted if it was critical drop! just showing off. Completely unnecessary maneuver.

  3. hmm i dont think they have retractable snorkels, never seen a single picture or video clip of a la city copter sucking up water from a lake and with the firehawk you can see the snorkel in some pics even when its retracted

  4. Actually, they do not have retractable snorkles. If they need the snorkle they would have to stuff it into the cabin and install it on site. In the linked interview the pilot says they do not have retractable snorkles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *