Airborne firefighting…

These two videos show various air tankers in the process of fighting various fires… Since PP is (thankfully) now out of danger as the River fire is mostly controlled, there is a bit less worry on my part.

But… The Ranch fire is still going strong, now over 200,000 acres, less than 25% contained, and the fire crews are hurting. They have brought in a number of air tankers to help out, including the DC-10 air tanker, but it takes a team effort. Air, ground, and hopefully some cooperation from the weather (which they are NOT getting in California right now).

The following video features a number ofย  ‘older’ fire fighting airplanes, S-2s, P-2s, P-3s, and P4Ys. All of these airplanes are ex-Navy submarine hunter airplanes, with bombays that have been converted/added to with external pouches to drop more water or retardant.

As the second video says, not everyone comes back… I knew some of the folks that flew these birds back in the day, after they got out of the Navy. To a person, they said it was ‘busy’ in the cockpit… Dodging hills, wires, antennas, other airplanes, and getting the drop in the right place at the right time made for a high cockpit loading, but very rewarding when it all came together.

My hat’s off to each and everyone that does this risky work today, and the fire crews on the ground.


Airborne firefighting… — 10 Comments

  1. It’s been a long time since I worked a fire line, but I remember how grateful we were for the air tankers. Side note: when a tanker misses the drop window and lays its load on the ground crew all that water “HURTS”. But it did cool us off for a few minutes.

  2. The last movie Audrey Hepburn appeared in was about these fire-fighting airplanes. Think it had Richard Dreyfuss and John Goodman in it as well. She was AT LEAST an angel, and may have been the Angel of Death or a representation of G*d; I don’t recall exactly. She gave one of the characters a haircut, which seemed rather an unusual intro to the afterlife.

    • Ah yes. The flying was fun, the romance was take-it-or-leave-it. The guys in the boat with the refilling tanker looming up behind them… ๐Ÿ˜€

    • “Always” and she was the AoD/a helper angel. Good flick, much better than “A Man named Joe” with Spencer Tracy.

      I think the whole haircut scene was meant to push the whole surreal aspect of the transitional portion of the afterlife.

      And, to me, I thought her performance was better in this movie than in a lot of her more famous performances.

      • …I promise, the other two replies were not there when I typed that.

  3. Wayne- True, even if it was just a chopper… But that water DID feel good! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Everybody else- Yep, Always. A classic niche movie, and the flying was right on.

  4. Soooo… No, $***, there we were… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    My first experience being a flying secret squirrel was at Fort Carson, Colorado, or, as we called it, Fort Cartoon. Now, the local fishwrap, the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph, had a special relationship with the 4th Aviation brigade, as in, said fishwrap was the bane of their existence, for many reasons, good and bad.

    So, in an attempt to get on their good side, the brigade has some Blackhawks out doing fire suppression missions, and they invite the G-T out for a dog-and-pony. They have the senior Standardization Flight Instructor on the stick, and the XO on the ground briefing the reporter, and just as the XO says something “…he will now dump the ‘Bambi Bucket’…” the SI hits the wrong lever, and releases, as in cuts lose and drops the entire BB onto the fire…

  5. The ground crews that keep those planes flying are something special, too.

    My aunt, now retired, all five foot nothing of her, had some type of expertise in loading these planes such that the .gov flew her all over the west to supervise loading operations.

    Every fall, until couple of years ago, she got her elk for winter’s meat with an old long-barreled Savage 99 in .250-3000.
    She layed in her own firewood every year, too.

    She is mellow, sweet, hardworking, endured my uncle (not sure what she saw in him).

    It did kind of tic her off the time he shot her in the arm during a heated discussion about his excessive alcohol consumption.
    As I recall, as a result of this fracas, the windshield in his truck needed replaced and some bullet holes needed patched before she went Winchester and he managed to crawl out the passenger door of his truck and beg forgiveness before she could reload.

    A saint of a woman.

    Stuck with him through dementia and dangerous behavior related to that condition.

    Her grandson graduated from Westpoint a couple of years ago.

    Sweet, sweet women.
    My second favorite aunt.
    Did I mention she is a redhead?

  6. My buddy is a plant manager at the retardant factory in Idaho Falls.
    He told me they are putting out 500 tons a day, and just keeping up with demand