In this video, Air Tanker 131, a C-130Q, is seen making two drops with water — instead of fire retardant — on the Mud Lake Complex of fires in Big Cypress National Preserve in south Florida. This is an unusual tactic for most large air tankers that normally drop retardant. It was a direct attack on the edge of the fire, rather than being offset as they would usually do with retardant. In the United States, federal policy does not allow retardant to be dropped near water. Many areas in the Mud Lake Complex were near wetlands.
Air tankers that can skim over the surface of a lake, scooping water to refill their tanks, usually drop water instead of retardant. Those aircraft include the Air Tractor Fire Boss, CL-215/415, and the Martin Mars.
Coulson Aviation attached a GoPro camera to the belly of their C-130Q to record the video in May, 2015.
The video below, produced by the Royal Australian Air Force, provides information about how the Australian Defence Force assisted residents and fire fighting efforts in Western Australia during the recent fire seige.
In the next video, produced by Victoria’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning in December, 2014, officials welcome 46 firefighting aircraft of all shapes and sizes to the 2014/2015 bushfire season, including two large air tankers from North America.
And one last video — this one showing Tanker 131, known as Bomber 390 in Australia, landing at Avalon in Victoria.
The Australian Defence Force produced this film of the ADF providing logistic support to South Australia’s Country Fire Service’s fire fighting aircraft at RAAF Base Edinburgh following the outbreak of devastating bushfires near Adelaide. The fire fighting aircraft included a C-130Q Hercules – Air Tanker, an Avro RJ-85 – Air Tanker and a Gulfstream Aero Commander AC690 – Air Attack aircraft. The task, which commenced on Sunday, January 4th 2015, followed a formal request facilitated by Emergency Management Australia (EMA), which manages and coordinates national support provided to the States and Territories.
Since they started on contract a couple of weeks ago, the two large air tankers currently working in Victoria, Australia are being used on a regular basis to help firefighters on the ground knock down bushfires . The two aircraft are an RJ-85, known as Bomber 391 (Tanker 161), and a C-130Q, called Bomber 390 (Tanker 131). These first two photos show the C-130Q.
The next two photos, we are told, are examples of how the retardant dropped by the planes slowed down, or stopped in some places, fires spreading through grass. These last two photos were taken by Lee Gleeson, Air Attack Supervisor with the DEPI in Victoria.
The two large air tankers that are under contract to Victoria for their 2014/2015 summer bushfire season will be introduced to the Australian media on Tuesday. Conair’s Tanker 162, an RJ-85, and Coulson’s Tanker 131, a C-130Q (known in Australia as Bomber 390), will be at the Avalon airport Tuesday, December 16 at 10 a.m. local time. In addition to the two large air tankers, seven other aircraft will be available including two other air tankers and some helicopters, including Coulson’s S-61 (known in Australia as HT347).
These videos were shot with a GoPro camera attached to Tanker 131, a C-130Q, while it was dropping on the King Fire between Placerville and Lake Tahoe, California. That was the fire where 12 firefighters deployed their fire shelters in front of advancing flames and were led to safety by a pilot in a helicopter.
Thanks go out to Britt Coulson for making these available.
We wish other air tanker operators would invest a couple of hundred dollars in a camera they could attach to their aircraft.
I’d love to see a split screen video of an air tanker dropping. On one side we would see the ground and the drop itself, and the other side would be shot from the cockpit and would include the audio of the crew — like this video shot from MAFFS 3 in July. It would take a little bit of advanced video editing, but I imagine if the raw footage was available we could find a volunteer who could put it together.
The photo below of Coulson’s Tanker 131 was shot while it was on final for landing at Redding, California, August 7, 2014.