Today I ran across this video of a Los Angeles County Blackhawk helicopter making a precision water drop, filmed five months ago.
The Smithsonian’s Air and Space Magazine has an interesting article about pilots who fly for the National Park Service. Here’s how it begins:
The chance to see from the air some of Earth’s most beautiful places is the most obvious reward of flying for the U.S. National Park Service. But the job also has unique risks, as Weino “Tug” Kangus, the most experienced airman in park service history, can attest. Now 72 with 39 years as a pilot, Kangus still flies five days a week over Lake Powell’s breathtaking 185-mile-long expanse of rock and deep water in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Utah and Arizona.
I ask him about a particularly memorable moment in his career. “Some Navajo bad guys shot two officers and burned their bodies on the San Juan River,” he says of a 1987 incident. “We spent time flying with the FBI looking for those guys, and we found out about two years later that one of them was hiding out in a hogan [adobe dwelling] on the reservation. We dropped down low enough where we could look right in the door of that hogan, and there he was, standing in the doorway with a high-powered rifle with a ’scope, pointed right at us. I’ve been in on scores of those things—that’s what we do.”
Law-enforcement missions, Kangus says, require precision flying. “You’re not going to arrest anybody from the air, though I have pulled them over and have them spread-eagle on the ground. The thing is, if you can’t control your aircraft in a 30-degree [bank], low enough that you can read a license plate or follow footprints in the desert, you should be in a different business.”
About 80 rookies are going through the National Rappel Academy in Salmon, Idaho this week.
Below is an excerpt from an article at LocalNews8:
The National Rappel Academy in Salmon is one of a kind. For the fourth consecutive year veteran rappellers, who trained two weeks ago, are teaching nearly 80 rookies for a week in preparation of a busy summer season.
The rookies go through ground training before practicing from a tower that simulates a helicopter. A spotter, check spotter and rappeller all practice from the top of the deck.
Don Campbell, a specialist at the National Rappel Academy, has actual experience in every position. He said the future heli-rappellers will focus on the initial attack on wildfires.
Carrie Bond, a rookie from Iowa, said her week of training has been busy but exciting.
“It’s intimidating to look at the towers and look at the helicopters go up, but the crew here has been awesome,” said Bond. “I couldn’t ask for a better crew.”
The State of Colorado has taken another affirmative step toward acquiring a fire aviation fleet. They have advertised for bids to provide up to three helicopters. There are two announcements, one for a Type 2 helicopter, and another for “up to two” Type 3 helicopters.
The bid due date is June 13, and the state expects the one-year contract to begin on July 1, 2014.
Their plan was to contract for three or four helicopters in 2014 and up to four large air tankers in 2015 and beyond.
Thanks and a hat tip go out to Bean
The Kern County Fire Department in Bakersfield, California will be hosting a night flying and night vision goggles (NVG) fire suppression drill on June 5. The Department recently distributed the following information. It is interesting in that it will involve not only night flying helicopters, but also crews, engines, and dozers.
“On June 5, 2014 the Kern County Fire Department will be hosting the Southern California Interagency NVG Fire Suppression Drill in the Greater Tehachapi area. Kern County Fire Department, Orange County Fire Authority, Los Angeles City Fire Department, Los Angeles County Fire Department, Ventura County Fire/Sheriff, and the US Forest Service will participate in the drill with their aircraft.
The drill will begin at 2:00 PM with aircraft arriving at the East Ramp of Tehachapi Municipal Airport, the Drill Helibase. The airport east ramp will be closed to other aircraft and access will be limited to drill participants, Fire Service observers, and support staff only.
The Drill In-briefing will commence at 3:00 PM, following the brief aircraft will conduct area familiarization flights during daylight and return to the Helibase where dinner will be provided at 18:00. NVG Fire suppression operations will commence at approximately 8:45 PM, concluding at approximately 1:00 AM on June 6th. Fire suppression apparatus, including crews, engines, and dozers will be stationed at the burn site on Cummings Ranch.
Helicopters will depart the Helibase on order from the HLCO, proceed to the Tank-Fill site near Brite Lake, take on water and commence water-drop operations by flying circuits from the Tank-Fill site to the fire site on Cummings Ranch. Aircraft will complete as many evolutions as required for each pilot to demonstrate proficiency in night water drop operations. Additionally, Fire Crews will have the opportunity to work with night water-dropping helicopters to practice, train, and develop night water-drop coordination procedures (Identification, Communication, Feedback, etc.).
Aerial Supervision will be provided by the USFS Night Air Attack airplane and Kern County Fire NVG HLCO.”
We have not seen the U.S. Forest Service bragging about their aerial firefighting resources much since the fleet was eviscerated after 2002 to about eight last year. But since they added five jet-powered air tankers to the fleet in the last week, they felt confident to produce a graphic promoting the aircraft. Above is a portion of the graphic; you can see the entire document at the USFS website.
Thanks and a hat tip go out to Leo.
When Marines are involved in a fire fight, it usually means bullets, not flames, are in the air. There have been at least 22 military aircraft available for fighting the wildfires in southern California over the last five days, from Camp Pendleton and the Marine Corps Air Station at Miramar. The latter has an official Twitter account where we found these photos:
— MCAS Miramar, 3rdMAW (@MCASMiramarCA) May 17, 2014
— MCAS Miramar, 3rdMAW (@MCASMiramarCA) May 18, 2014
Today the South Dakota National Guard Aviation Unit conducted their annual fire certification at Angostura Lake and the Hot Springs Airport. It was coordinated by the South Dakota Wildland Fire Division so that the National Guard Black Hawk helicopters can assist in suppressing wildland fires.
Crews were tested on fire aviation procedures which included dipping buckets attached to helicopters at a water source and accurately dropping the water on a target.
The helicopters used were Blackhawks and a Lakota. It was quite windy during the exercise, increasing the level of difficulty for the crews.