The aircraft and crews will be assisting firefighters in Chile and Australia
Coulson Aviation is in the process of deploying firefighting aircraft to the Southern Hemisphere for the summer wildfire seasons in South America and Australia.
For several weeks they have had three Sikorsky S-61N helicopters in Australia and in November flew air tanker 137, a Boeing 737 (N137CG), across the Pacific to join the helicopters. They will also have a Sikorsky S-76B in the country.
Two C-130 air tankers, T-131 (N130FF) and T-132 (N132CG), departed from San Bernardino, California December 12 for Australia. They both recently received new livery, featuring a new paint design for the Coulson aircraft.
In the last week or so Coulson loaded two CH-47 Chinooks (N47CU and N40CU) and a Blackhawk onto a large ship to begin a voyage to Chile where they will assist firefighters.
Wildland fire authorities in Australia expect to have at least six large air tankers working on exclusive use arrangements during the 2020-2021 fire season which is already underway down under. Five will be under contract and one, a B737, is owned by the New South Wales government.
Richard Alder, General Manager of the National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC) said on October 13, “We will continue to monitor how the season develops and consider the need for additional large airtankers if required.”
B737, Bomber 210 (formerly Tanker 138), N138CG, purchased from Coulson and now owned by New South Wales Rural Fire Service, at Richmond, NSW. Year round.
Q400AT, Bomber 141, C-FFQE, supplied by FieldAir/Conair, at Bundaberg, Queensland. Started September 1, 2020.
RJ85, Bomber 166 (Tanker 166), C-GVFT, supplied by FieldAir/Conair, at Dubbo, New South Wales. Started October 1, 2020.
Due to start November 1, 2020:
B737, Tanker 137, N137CG, supplied by Coulson, at Richmond, NSW. The contract allows Coulson to substitute another aircraft, their “new” Tanker 132, a C130H, depending on the status of the overlapping fire seasons in Australia and the US.
Due to start December 2, 2020.
RJ 85, Bomber 391, C-GVFK (?), supplied by FieldAir/Conair, at Avalon Victoria.
Due to start December 16, 2020
C130Q, Bomber 390 (Tanker 131), N130FF, supplied by Coulson, at Avalon Victoria.
According according to a September through November outlook from the Bushfire and Natural Hazard Cooperative Research Centre much of Australia may be looking at a slower than average fire season for the next two months.
The National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC) was formed by the Australian States and Territories in July, 2003 to provide a cooperative national arrangement for combating bushfires. It facilitates the coordination and procurement of a fleet of firefighting aircraft that are readily available for use by State and Territory emergency service and land management agencies across Australia.
The video below shows the effects of air tanker drops in timber. The first part shows a dozer line or road on the edge of the Glass Fire in Northern California. Then you will see where red fire retardant dropped by air tankers has slowed the advance of the fire. When it can be done safely, firefighters on the ground or on dozers will need to construct a bare-earth fireline where the fire has burned into or through the retardant. Aircraft dropping water or retardant do not put out a fire, they can only slow the spread, and only if the wind is not very strong.
Stavatti is proud to introduce the SM-100AT Air Tanker. A clean-sheet-of-paper, new design Air Tanker, the SM-100AT will deliver 4,000 gallons of Fire Retardant with greater efficiency and lower cost than its competitors. The SM-100AT has entered accelerated development. h pic.twitter.com/h7qmJJHNFG
The first of five C-130H planes that Coulson Aviation purchased from the Norwegian military completed its heavy maintenance in Crestview, Florida October 1 and was ferried to Spokane, Washington for new paint and an inspection.
The aircraft has already been converted to an air tanker, Tanker 132, with the installation of a 4,000-gallon internal gravity-powered retardant tank. As recently as 2017 Coulson operated another C-130 known as Tanker 132. It was leased and was returned to its owner.
A second C-130 was pulled out of mothballs at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona at the same time as this aircraft. It will also be outfitted as an air tanker and is going through heavy maintenance at Crestview.
The first of five C-130H planes that Coulson Aviation purchased from the Norwegian military was ferried Monday from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona to Crestview, Florida. Over the last seven weeks two of the aircraft were brought back to life in order to fly them to the facility in Crestview for heavy maintenance and conversion into air tankers capable of fighting wildfires.
Coulson’s Air Tanker 132, known as “Thor” in Australia, began its bushfire season contract with the New South Wales Rural Fire Service at Sydney September 1. Shortly after being introduced to the media it was dispatched to a fire.
Another of their C-130’s, Tanker 131, will be heading down there later this year. It will be based in the state of Victoria.
On June 30 there was a variety of C-130 air tankers working out of Medford, Oregon, and Tim Crippin was able to capture them on celluloid an SD card. It kind of boggles the mind to see three C-130 air tankers at the same air tanker base, all operated by completely different organizations.
There was one privately owned tanker, Coulson’s T-132, and two government-owned. T-116 will eventually, one of these days, way down the road, perhaps, be officially transferred from the Coast Guard to the U.S. Forest Service. And MAFFS 5 is from the Colorado Springs Air Force Reserve base.
Two other MAFFS C-130’s are also activated — one each from Air National Guard units at Cheyenne and Reno.
While Coulson’s three C-130-type air tankers were all together in Reno last month for carding by the U.S. Forest Service and pilot training the company took the opportunity to grab some photos of the aircraft while they were flying in formation.
They are all variants of Lockheed’s C-130 platform — Tanker 131 is a C-130Q while Tankers 132 and 133 are L-382G’s. Tanker 133, the newest addition to the fleet, just became operational a couple of weeks ago.
Scroll down to see how Dan Megna got the photos.
To take the photos Coulson rented an OV-10 that conveniently has a small compartment in the rear. Professional photographer Dan Megna sat in that tiny space to get the shots.