Two of Coulson’s helicopters have completed their trip on board a ship and have arrived in Australia. The company is in the midst of putting them back together in a hangar in Avalon. The S-61 due to its size had to be broken down more than the S-76, but the mechanics have done this several times before.
The two ships will be used in the Aussie’s night vision goggle firefighting program, with training beginning November 7. The S-61 will be double crewed, providing assistance to firefighters well into the night. It will be capable of filling while hovering, something the North American firefighting agencies have not done.
It is working for FEMA on a Hurricane response mission.
Above: the route for Coulson’s S-61. Coulson image.
Coulson has received government contracts for their air tankers and helicopters to fight wildfires in the United States, Canada, and Australia. Now they have added Puerto Rico to the list of remote mobilizations. Their Sikorsky S-61, after fighting fires all summer, flew there last week, arriving September 29. It is under contract with FEMA to assist with the response to Hurricane Maria.
Above: One of Helimax’s two CH-47D Chinook Type 1 helicopters they have on exclusive use contract with the U.S. Forest Service.
We stopped by the Helimax Aviation facilities at McClellan Air Field near Sacramento recently and talked with General Manager Josh Beckham and Director of Fire Operations Larry Kelly. Their mechanics were going over their fleet of helicopters preparing them for the upcoming fire season.
Two of their three CH-47D Chinooks are on a Type 1 exclusive use contract. One of them today became the company’s first helicopter to leave the nest this year, beginning work in Sierra Vista, Arizona.
Mr. Beckham told us that they expect to buy “probably two to start with” of the internal 2,800-gallon tanks being built by Jordan Aircraft Services. He said the first one is nearing completion and they hope to begin flight testing in the next couple of months. The water or retardant will be pushed out of the horizontally mounted cylindrical tanks by a 54-inch piston.
Mr. Beckham said Helimax also has six Type 2 helicopters on exclusive use contracts, five 205A1++’s and one 212HP.
On injured reserve is a Super Puma which needs some work — it was hoisted out of the ocean when it became floating debris after the 2011 Tsunami in Japan.
As the bushfire season winds down in Australia the large and very large air tankers are beginning to migrate back north to North America to prepare for the fire season back home. The DC-10, Tanker 910, arrived at Albuquerque at 8 p.m. Friday night after flying over 8,500 miles from Melbourne, stopping in Pago Pago and Honolulu on the way.
Two of the DC-10s will be on exclusive use contracts with the U.S. Forest Service this summer; one starts in late April and another in early May.
Conair’s Tanker 162 (an RJ85) and Coulson’s two C-130s (T-131 and T-132) are expected to depart around March 1. Britt Coulson said their two S-61 helicopters (photos) have both been extended for another week and a half and may get extensions beyond that if it continues to be hot.
One of our readers alerted us to the photo below that was taken February 28 when Tanker 910 stopped in Hawaii on the way back from Melbourne.
Britt Coulson of The Coulson Group sent us these photos of the wildfire burning along the lake near the company’s Martin Mars base in British Columbia. One of their S-61 Type 1 helicopters assigned to the fire can be seen in two of the photos, the black and white ship.