Crash of Portuguese CL-215 air tanker kills pilot

The accident occurred in Spain on a wildfire that burned across the border

August 8, 2020 | 1 p.m. MDT

CL-215 crash map
Map showing the general area of the crash of a CL-215 (EC-HET). The icons represent heat detected by satellites at 8:10 a.m. MDT (US) August 8, 2020.

A Portuguese water-scooping air tanker crashed in Spain on August 8 while battling a wildfire that started near Lindoso, Portugal and burned across the international border. The pilot, Jorge Jardim, 65, was killed and the Spanish co-pilot was seriously injured.

Below are excerpts from an article at the Portugal Resident August 8, 2020:

The tragedy happened mid-morning as the plane was taking part in aerial attacks on a fire in the Peneda-Gerês national park at Lindoso, Ponte da Barca.

The downed plane had just finished a ‘scooping’ (collection of roughly 5000 litres of water) and was preparing to drop the load in an arc at the head of the fire.

By the time rescue workers got to the wreckage, both victims were in cardio-respiratory arrest. SAV (advanced life-support) technicians managed to ‘bring back’ the Spanish co-pilot, but were unable to resuscitate the 65-year-old pilot.

Eduardo Cabrita, minister for Interior Administration, issued a note of regret Monday afternoon, presenting his “heartfelt condolences” to the family, friends and colleagues of pilot Jorge Jardim who made up part of the special aerial fire combat force run by the Portuguese branch of the international company Babcock.

Mr Cabrita also wished for the full recovery of the co-pilot, saying “in this tragic moment I would like to send a word of solidarity to all those who give such selfless service to the country in the combat of fires”.

He also thanked Spanish authorities for their help in the difficult recovery operation.

The aircraft was a Canadair CL-215 (EC-HET) manufactured in 1975.

At the time of the accident, seven Portuguese and four Spanish aircraft were working on the fire.

The investigation will be conducted by Spanish authorities since it occurred on the Spanish side of the border.

YouTube has aerial footage of the crash site apparently filmed shortly after the incident which shows a small vegetation fire spreading uphill away from the wreckage. There are also photos on Twitter.

Our sincere condolences go out to the family, friends, and co-workers of Mr. Jardim and hope for a full recovery of the co-pilot.

Video of air tankers at Boise

August 7, 2020 | 7:01 p.m. MDT

Tanker 168 fire wildfire RJ85
Air Tanker 168, an RJ85, at Boise, Idaho August 6, 2020. Screenshot from AIRAILIMAGES video.

Fred Johnson of let us know about this AIRAILIMAGES video he shot of air tankers landing and taking off at Boise August 6. He said they were probably working on a wildfire in eastern Oregon.

You will see two BAe-146s, Tankers 03 and 41, and an RJ85, Tanker 163.

LA County S-70A Firehawk helicopter suffers a rotor strike during training

LACoFD Firehawk H-60 Rotor Strike
LACoFD Firehawk H-16 before Rotor Strike (N160LA). Facebook photo.

One of the S-70A Firehawk helicopters operated by the Los Angeles County Fire Department suffered a rotor strike last week while the personnel were conducting training. Video posted on social media (see below) recorded the event. As Helicopter 16 (N160LA) appeared to be settling down to a landing, a main rotor blade struck a large rock. You can hear the impact and the sound of the helicopter was then very different, changing to a whop-whop-whop that reminded me of the sound of a Huey.

After the impact the ship immediately begin lifting and flew off out of sight. It was later photographed in a field where personnel on a ladder were inspecting one of the main rotor blades.

The knowledgeable person I talked to did not want to have their name disclosed since they were not authorized to discuss the incident in detail.

The helicopter has been repaired and is back in service. The incident occurred around July 30.

LACoFD Firehawk H-60 Rotor Strike
LACoFD Firehawk H-16 immediately after a Rotor Strike (N160LA). Facebook photo.
LACoFD Firehawk H-60 Rotor Strike
LACoFD Firehawk H-16 after a Rotor Strike (N160LA). Facebook photo.

Warning: the video below that shows the rotor strike has coarse language.

LACoFD Firehawk H-60 Rotor Strike
Mechanics checking out the LACoFD Firehawk H-16 after a Rotor Strike (N160LA). Chad Utt photo.
Los Angeles County Fire Department helicopter 16
File photo of Los Angeles County Fire Department helicopter 16 (N160LA with the open door) at Barton Heliport in Pacoima, California January 26, 2020. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

The two brand new S-70i Firehawks that arrived at the Barton Heliport in Pacoima August 4 are basically ready to fight fire. One is 100 percent ready and the other is undergoing some minor changes to the seats. With this boost to the fleet the LACoFD now has 10 helicopters — 5 Firehawks and 5 Bell 412 ships.


The article was edited August 8, 2020 to show that the helicopter involved in the mishap was an S-70A rather than an S-70i.

Photos of air tankers and a lead plane working out of Redmond, OR

August 6, 2020 | 7:50 p.m. PDT

Tanker 60, a DC-7B
Tanker 60, a DC-7B, arriving at Redmond, OR August 3, 2020. Photo by Cooper Palubeski.

Cooper Palubeski sent us photos he took August 3 of firefighting aircraft at Redmond, Oregon. Thanks Cooper!

The tankers were reloading retardant while battling the Fir Mountain Fire south of Hood River, Oregon. Tankers 101 and 163 were dispatched from Redmond, Oregon just after 11:00 a.m. and made four load and returns at the airport.

They got more help around 12:30 p.m. when Tanker 60 arrived from Medford, making several runs on the Fir Mountain Fire before returning to Medford that night.

Tanker 163, an RJ85 (N366AC)
Tanker 163, an RJ85 (N366AC), at Redmond, OR August 3, 2020 landing after its first sortie that day. Photo by Cooper Palubeski.
Tanker 101, an MD-87 (N291EA)
Tanker 101, an MD-87 (N291EA), taking off with its second load of retardant at Redmond, OR August 3, 2020. Photo by Cooper Palubeski.
Tanker 101, an MD-87 (N291EA)
Tanker 101, an MD-87 (N291EA), taking off with its second load of retardant at Redmond, OR August 3, 2020. Photo by Cooper Palubeski.
Lead Plane, Beechcraft Super King Air B200GT (N24HD)
A U.S. Forest Service Lead Plane, Beechcraft Super King Air B200GT (N24HD), at Redmond, OR August 3, 2020. Photo by Cooper Palubeski, who said the aircraft was over the Fir Mountain Fire for nearly 4.5 hours.
Tanker 163, an RJ85 (N366AC)
Tanker 163, an RJ85 (N366AC), at Redmond, OR August 3, 2020. It was taking off for the first time that day from Redmond. Photo by Cooper Palubeski.

LACoFD has two new Firehawks

Los Angeles County Fire Department helicopters 21 and 22
Los Angeles County Fire Department helicopters 21 and 22 arrive at Barton Heliport in Pacoima, California. Photo by @ShorealoneFilms via @MichaelDubron.

With their arrival today at the Barton Heliport in Pacoima, the Los Angeles County Fire Department has two new Firehawk helicopters fully equipped and ready to go. Both of the ships, Helicopters 21 and 22, were converted by Colorado company United Rotorcraft into firefighting machines, with extended landing gear, 1,000 gallon firefighting tanks, and retractable snorkel systems. H-21 was in California last winter, went back to Colorado to  finish the conversion, then came back with it’s sister ship, H-22, today August 4.

Now the LACoFD has 10 helicopters, 5 Firehawks and five Bell 412 ships.

The Department announced in July of last year that they were going to buy two more Firehawks.

Last year we wrote about 14 things to know about Los Angeles County Fire Department Air Operations.

Firehawk Sikorsky S70I Los Angeles County Fire Department
Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Sikorsky S70I Firehawk, Helicopter 21, being tested Nov. 16, 2019 in Colorado. Photo by Erick Lama for United Rotorcraft.
HAI_2020_Arrivals_HAI
One of Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Firehawks, Helicopter 21, arriving at HAI 2020 in Anaheim, CA January 24, 2020.
HAI HELI-EXPO 2020 Anaheim helicopter
At HAI Anaheim, January 28, 2020, Sikorsky honored three fire departments whose organizations are operating Firehawks; San Diego Fire Rescue, Los Angeles County, and CAL FIRE.
Sikorsky Firehawk H-21
At HAI Anaheim, January 28, 2020, Sikorsky honored three fire departments whose organizations are operating Firehawks; San Diego Fire Rescue, Los Angeles County, and CAL FIRE. LACoFD’s new H-21 is in the background.

Video of National Guard MAFFS air tankers in action

MAFFS air tanker
A MAFFS air tanker approaches a target. Screenshot from the National Guard/Airailimages video.

Fred Johnsen of AIRAILIMAGES sent us information about a video he compiled about the California National Guard C-130s that were activated with the slip-in Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System. The MAFFS can spray up to 3,000 gallons of fire retardant using the air-pressurized system.

Fred describes the video:

Here’s a blend of two video B-Roll segments from the California Air National Guard showing the preparation of he 146th Airlift Wing’s C-130s for use as firefighters, and then actual fire duty from the cockpit in July 2020. Look closely and you will see the lead plane put out a stream of smoke where the C-130 is supposed to drop. And listen to the sounds of the drop from the cockpit.

The two C-130s from the California National Guard were replaced after a week as scheduled on July 29 by a Herc from Nevada Air National Guard’s 152nd Airlift Wing “High Rollers” and one from the Air Force Reserve’s 302 Airlift Wing out of Peterson Air Force Base at Colorado Springs.

Two air tankers collide near Bishop Fire in Nevada

UPDATED at 10:15 p.m. MDT July 30, 2020

map Bishop Fire
Map showing heat detected by satellites on the Bishop fire as late as 3 a.m. MDT July 30, 2020.

Two air tankers collided July 30 while working on the Bishop Fire in southeast Nevada.

The Air Tractor Single Engine Air Tankers, SEATs, were involved in a mid-air collision Thursday afternoon according to Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Claire Morville. There was one person on board each aircraft.

At 10 p.m. MDT July 30 a spokesperson for the Bureau of Land Management, Chris Hanefeld, confirmed that the collision occurred earlier in the day at about 12:55 p.m. He said both pilots were killed in the crash. Recovery operations are currently underway and initial notifications are still being made.

“We offer our sincere condolences to the families of the two pilots and to all those working with the BLM Nevada Ely District,” said BLM Nevada State Director Jon Raby.

The Bishop fire, reported July 29, has burned 500 acres 14 miles south-southwest of Caliente, Nevada.

The accident occurred near the intersection of Kane Springs Road and Riggs Road, Ms. Morville said.

The fire is on land managed by the BLM. The two privately owned aircraft were under contract to the agency.

SEATs are small airplanes used to support wildland firefighters on the ground. They can deliver up to 800 gallons of fire retardant and operate in areas where larger airtankers cannot.

The names of the pilots have not been released.

Our sincere condolences go out to the pilots’ family, friends, and coworkers.

Bishop Fire
Bishop Fire, from Ella Mountain Lookout July 29, 2020. InciWeb photo.
map Bishop Fire
Bishop Fire map. Data from 7:53 p.m. MDT July 29, 2020. BLM.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Tom. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Two C-130 MAFFS air tankers relieved by another pair

MAFFS C-130
MAFFS C-130 training in Boise April 21, 2017. Photo by Bill Gabbert

After a week on the job the two California National Guard C-130 MAFFS air tankers that were activated on July 22 are being relieved as scheduled and will return to the 146th Airlift Wing at Channel Islands in southern California.

A Herc from Nevada Air National Guard’s 152nd Airlift Wing “High Rollers” deployed July 29 to Sacramento McClellan Airport. It will be joined by one from the Air Force Reserve’s 302 Airlift Wing out of Peterson Air Force Base at Colorado Springs.

The military C-130s use the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) which can deliver up to 3,000 gallons of fire retardant. The system slides into the back of the aircraft and retardant is sprayed under pressure through a nozzle in a modified troop door on the left side. MAFFS aircraft can be activated to supplement the civilian airtanker program to slow the spread of wildland fires.

fire wildfire Nevada Air National Guard C-130 MAFFS
A C-130 from Nevada Air National Guard’s 152nd Airlift Wing “High Rollers” during training in Boise April 20, 2020. Photo by Bill Gabbert.