C-130 declares emergency, crashes at Santa Barbara Airport

There are reports that the aircraft was a former air tanker

C-130 crash landing Santa Barbara Airport
C-130 after a crash landing at Santa Barbara Airport at 10:13 p.m. August 25, 2019. Photo provided by @EliasonMike.

A privately owned C-130 made a crash landing in Southern California at Santa Barbara Airport Sunday night after declaring an emergency. It had earlier taken off from Santa Maria 47 miles northwest of Santa Barbara airport. All seven people on board escaped without serious injury. There was a fire after it came to a stop which was quickly extinguished by an airport crash rescue truck spraying foam.

CBS News reported that the Federal Aviation Administration said the plane experienced hydraulic problems shortly after departing from Santa Maria, bound for Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.

C-130 crash landing Santa Barbara Airport
C-130 after a crash landing at Santa Barbara Airport at 10:13 p.m. August 25, 2019. Photo provided by @EliasonMike.

FlightAware shows that the aircraft landed at Santa Barbara 16 minutes after taking off from Santa Maria.

C-130 flight Santa Barbara crash
Flight of N119TG from Santa Maria to Santa Barbara August 25, 2019. FlightAware.

There are reports that the aircraft was N119TG, serial number 57-520, which is registered to International Air Response out of Mesa, Arizona. In an earlier life 57-520 appears to have been Air Tanker 88, N138FF, operated by Hemet Valley Flying Service in Santa Rosa, California. A Google search for “Air Tanker 88, N138FF” produced many photos.

Tanker 88 C-130
Air Tanker 88 at Hemet, California October 28, 1993. JD Davis Photo.


air tanker 88 C-130
Jerome sent us this picture he took of a print that has been hanging on the wall at Santa Rosa Air Attack Base for a while.

International Air Response’s website says the company “… is a global provider of specialized aerial services. Founded in 1976, the company owns, maintains, and operates a large fleet of Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft.” The site has a page dedicated to Aerial Firefighting : “C-130 Hercules equipped with RADS aerial firefighting system – The most versatile and effective large air tanker with proven results.” The page has what must be a very old photo of Tanker 81 dropping retardant. Today CAL FIRE has S2 air tankers known as Tanker 81 and Tanker 88.

air tanker 81
Photo from the International Air Response website.

Fire Line Emergency Assist by Elko Helitack

firefighter injured helicopter extraction
BLM photo

In 52 minutes Elko Helitack and Corta Fire personnel assisted a firefighter on the line with a medical emergency and transported him to the local hospital. Elko Helitack was prepared to shuttle the firefighter off the line because of the certification to perform “Single-skid, Toe-in, hover Exit/Entry Procedures (STEP).” This was the first medical STEP extraction in the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

firefighter injured helicopter extraction
Having the ability to use a helicopter during an emergency is a way to mobilize faster and decrease the time to the hospital. Photo by Greg Diemel, BLM.

This enhanced helicopter operation was developed by the BLM Salt Lake Helitack in response to the firefighter community’s need to insert firefighters in remote locations and assist in extracting injured firefighters. BLM Fire and Aviation program quickly recognized the added utility and now have four helicopter crews that are STEP qualified, Elko, Las Vegas, Salt Lake and Moab.

firefighter injured helicopter extraction
Corta Fire extraction August 2019. The crew and EMTs prepare to load the injured firefighter to the helicopter for quick transport. BLM photo.

Story and photos by BLM.

Impressive video of downhill drop by DC-10

Saturday evening on the Long Valley Fire north of Reno

DC-10 drops Long Valley Fire
DC-10 drops on the Long Valley Fire, August 25, 2019. Screenshot from Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District video.

The video below shows a Very Large Air Tanker, a DC-10, making  a downhill retardant drop Saturday evening on the Long Canyon Fire.

As of Saturday evening the fire had burned about 1,500 acres north of Reno between Highway 395 and Red Rock Road.

747 air tanker begins working on wildfires in Bolivia

747 supertanker Bolivia
Air Tanker 944 at Viru Viru International Airport in Bolivia. Global Supertanker photo.

The 747 Supertanker arrived in Bolivia at 1:37 a.m. local time Friday August 23 at Viru Viru International Airport outside the capital city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra and began sorties on fires later in the day.

It appears from the photos above that the method of filling the 19,200-gallon tank may be similar to that used in 2017 when the 747 was working on fires in Chile. In that case there was no robust infrastructure for the distribution of water, so the Santiago Fire Department established a system of portable water tanks filled by water trucks. Fire engines then pumped water from the tanks to the aircraft.

747 air tanker supertanker Chile
Firefighters in Chile created a system to fill the 19,200-gallon tank on the 747 Supertanker in Chile. Photo by Bill Gabbert, January 25, 2017.

A Canadian RJ85 spent the winter in Australia

Air Tanker 165/391 is one of nine RJ85s converted by Conair

Air Tanker 165 391 RJ86
Air Tanker 165/391 undergoing scheduled heavy maintenance at Avalon, Victoria. Conair/Field Air photo.

After being on contract with Emergency Management Victoria during the 2018-2019 summer bushfire season, Conair and Field Air decided to keep one of their RJ85 air tankers in Australia during their winter.

The aircraft was due for scheduled heavy maintenance and will be on contract again during the upcoming 2019-2020 season. So rather than fly it to Canada and back again, which requires several carefully planned refueling stops each way, they kept it at Avalon, Victoria.

A company representative said:

The maintenance has to be done regardless, so the decision was made to do it here in Australia. This allowed some Aussie engineers to work alongside the Canadians – and as an added bonus supported the Geelong economy and some other local business.

While working for the Victorian government it had to be identified as Bomber 391. But this coming fire season it will work in New South Wales and will be allowed to use its original number, 165.

Tanker 165/391 is one of nine RJ85s that Conair has converted into air tankers that can carry up to 3,100 gallons of water or retardant at 431 mph. At least one has been under contract in Australia since the 2014-2015 season. In the 2018-2019 season Conair/Field Air had three working in the country.

Air Tanker 165 391 RJ86
Air Tanker 165/391 after scheduled heavy maintenance at Avalon, Victoria. Conair/Field Air photo.

747 Supertanker ordered for wildfires in Bolivia

747 Supertanker
747 Supertanker taking off at McClellan Air Field March 24, 2016.

(UPDATED at 6:48 a.m. PDT August 23, 2019)

Air Tanker 944, the 747 Supertanker, arrived in Bolivia overnight to assist firefighters who are battling  numerous wildfires across the country. It landed at 1:37 a.m. local time Friday at Viru Viru International Airport outside the capital city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

It departed from Sacramento McClellan Airport and flew non-stop at 39,000 feet at 510 to 610 mph.

Air tankers do not put out vegetation fires. However under ideal conditions, especially slow to moderate wind speeds, they can retard the spread of a fire for a period of time allowing firefighters on the ground to move in and actually suppress the fire. If there are no ground forces in the area, the effect of an air tanker dropping water or fire retardant is temporary. The fire can often eventually burn through or around the area where the liquid was applied. During strong winds, the retardant is blown off target and burning embers can travel a mile downwind and start spot fires.

(Originally published at 10:24 PDT August 22, 2019)

President Evo Morales announced on Wednesday that Bolivia has ordered the 747 Supertanker to assist firefighters battling a massive outbreak of wildfires in the Amazon basin.

The huge air tanker, identified as Tanker 944, that can carry up to 19,200 gallons (72,680 liters) of water or fire retardant is scheduled to depart from Sacramento McClellan Airport at 10:45 a.m. PDT Thursday and arrive in Viru Viru International Airport in Bolivia at about 6:42 p.m. local time.

The aircraft is being leased from Global Supertanker. According to laRazón, the company required an up front guarantee of $800,000 US dollars.

This will be the fifth formal international contract assignment for the 747. Previously it fought fires in Israel in 2010 and 2016, Mexico in 2011, and Chile in 2017.

The first drop it made on an actual fire was in Spain in July 2009 while on a world tour to introduce the aircraft to wildland firefighters. Later on that trip it dropped retardant on the Railbelt Complex in Alaska. At that time the aircraft was operated by Evergreen. Since then it has been purchased by Global Supertanker and upgraded from a 747-100 to a 747-400, but the retardant delivery system is essentially the same.

747 supertanker palmer fire
The 747 SuperTanker drops on the Palmer Fire south of Calimesa and Yucaipa in southern California, September 2, 2017. Photo by Cy Phenice, used with permission.

The article was edited to show that the 747 is scheduled to go to Bolivia, not Brazil.

A tour of Ramona Air Attack Base

Ramona Air Attack Base

On Wednesday CAL FIRE gave a live tour of the Air Attack Base at Ramona, California. They talked about the OV-10 Bronco, S2T air tankers, and the C-130 that the agency has under an exclusive use contract until the end of August which is serving as a training platform so their pilots will be ready for the planned acquisition of seven C-130 air tankers.

Here is the recorded version of the tour.