Air tanker 116 at Redding

The U.S. Forest Service distributed these photos Thursday of air tanker 116 at Redding, California. Normally the aircraft is based at McClellan Air Field in Sacramento, but it ventured north for “aerial firefighter training”.

The agency did not specify if the lawn chairs in the shade are part of the regular equipment inventory on the aircraft.

This plane is one of seven HC-130H’s that are transitioning from the Coast Guard to the USFS. The program has experienced delays but is expected to be complete by the end of this decade.

tanker 116 HC-130H tanker 116 HC-130H

Nightline features smokejumpers

Tuesday night ABC’s Nightline had a nine-minute story on smokejumpers that featured the crew at Redding, California.

Below is Nightline’s description of the video.

Mitch Hokanson, 39, peers out the window of the roaring aircraft. Down below, a thin smoke coil emerges from a patch of pine trees. It’s been a dramatic fire season in the West. Drought conditions mixed with a rash of lightning strikes have caused small fires to break out. Close to 8.9 million acres have been burned by wildfires so far in 2015 — well above last year’s 3 million acres during the same time period.

Inside the plane, nine men strapped with parachutes and gear are ready to leap out the open door. They are part of an elite, and rarely seen, group of wildfire fighters employed by the U.S. Forest Service. Their mission: to stop the flames before they spread.

While it might take days for other crews to reach remote fires, depending on the location, this team can be at the scene, battling a fire in 30 minutes. The pay is modest, conditions treacherous, and hours can be long. Meet the California Smokejumpers.

You can see the video in a larger format at ABC’s website.

Smokejumper operates chain saw
A smokejumper operates a chain saw at a wildland fire. Screen shot from the Nightline video.

Aviation briefing, June 5, 2015

Washington adds to their helicopter fleet

Washington DNR helicopter
Washington DNR helicopter. Photo by WA DNR.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources is adding an eighth UH-1 Huey to their helicopter fleet. Their goal is to have six operational helicopters at any given time during the fire season. King5 has a video report.

Seattle SeahawksIt is interesting how the color scheme on the helicopters is similar to that of the Seattle Seahawks.

Reno-Stead air attack base prepares for fire season

KTVN has a story about how the  BLM air attack base at Reno-Stead is getting ready for the wildfire season.

Wired writes about smokejumpers

Wired has a lengthy article about how smokejumpers and hand crews in Redding, California are training and preparing for the fire season.


Tanker 41 at Redding

T-41 and T-131 at RDD 8-7-2014
T-41 and T-131 at RDD 8-7-2014
T-41 at RDD 8-7-2014
T-41 at RDD 8-7-2014
T-41 landing at RDD 8-7-2014
T-41 landing at RDD 8-7-2014
T-41 landing at RDD 8-7-2014
T-41 landing at RDD 8-7-2014
T-41 landing at RDD 8-7-2014
Seen from the rear with the speed brakes deployed, is T-41 landing at RDD, 8-7-2014


All photos were taken by Bill Gabbert and are subject to copyright.

Aircraft at Redding, August 7, 2014

We spent some time yesterday at the Redding Air Attack Base in California and shot photos of the aircraft and will be posting them over the next few days. Here are a few to get started. Click on the photos to see slightly larger versions.

T-94 and T-95 at RDD 8-7-2014
T-94 and T-95 at RDD 8-7-2014
AA-240 and AA 505 and Coulson rig at RDD 8-7-2014
AA-240 and AA-505 (OV-10s) and the Coulson support rig at RDD 8-7-2014
AA120 landing at RDD 8-7-2014
AA-120, an OV-10, landing at RDD 8-7-2014
Chinook at RDD
California National Guard Chinook at RDD
Cobras and a Sherpa at RDD
Two Cobras and a Sherpa at RDD , 8-7-2014

All of the photos were taken by Bill Gabbert and are protected by copyright.