Opinion: how to best utilize the aerial firefighting fleet

The following opinion article was sent to us by U.S. Forest Service retiree Bill Derr. He said it was written by him in consultation with personnel involved in aerial firefighting, retirees, aerial firefighting industry people, and some Forest Service employees…

How 20 smokejumpers were rescued by a 2-passenger helicopter

Twelve years after 13 smokejumpers were killed on the Mann Gulch Fire 13 miles north-northwest of Helena, Montana, 20 jumpers were entrapped on a fire in northern Idaho 83 miles southwest of Missoula, Montana. It happened August 4, 1961 on…

Forest Service awards contracts for five exclusive use air tankers

Next-Generation 3.0 contract Today the U.S. Forest Service announced contract awards for five large exclusive (EU) use air tankers. Three companies received contracts — Erickson Aero Tanker for two tankers, Aero Flite for two, and Coulson for one. The tankers…

U.S. Air Force provides MAFFS training in Colombia, South America

U.S. Air Force personnel from four bases in the United States travelled to South America to work with the Colombian armed forces as part of a mobile training team from February 11 through March 11 at two air bases in…

Response from a reader about the use of firefighting aircraft during a pandemic

We received the text below in an email from one of our regular readers, Bean, who gave us permission to use it here. He wrote in response to the article, “During a pandemic aircraft may need to be used on…

Schedule released for large air tankers

Schedule for large air tankers that are on USFS exclusive use contracts, updated March 11, 2020 by USFS. The U.S. Forest Service has released a days off schedule for the 13 large air tankers that are under exclusive use contracts…

First flight of a CL-415EAF

First flight of a CL-415EAF March 10, 2020. Photo by Longview Aviation. A Viking CL-415EAF took its inaugural flight in Abbotsford, British Columbia March 10. It is the first Canadair CL-215 to undergo the major modification to CL-415EAF “Enhanced Aerial…

Full page newspaper ads recommend converting C-5M aircraft into firefighting air tankers

C-5 Galaxy. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Charlie Miller, Oct. 3, 2005.. A former aircraft engineer is taking out full page newspaper advertisements proposing that C-5M aircraft be converted into firefighting air tankers operated by the Air Force.…

S-2 air tanker assists firefighter in Oklahoma

Air Tanker 95, a privately owned S-2 aircraft formerly operated by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection assisted firefighters last weekend on the 29,000-acre 412 Fire in the Oklahoma panhandle. The air tanker is under a call when…

News from the Aerial Firefighting Conference in Sacramento

The two-day Aerial Firefighting North America conference just wrapped up at Sacramento McClellan Airport in Sacramento. It began Tuesday with a series of keynote and welcoming addresses delivered by Chief Thom Porter, Director of CAL FIRE, Brian S. Marshal, State…

Erickson receives FAA approval for composite main rotor blades

The blades will be used on S-64 and CH-54 helicopters Erickson Incorporated announced this week that the company has received FAA approval for composite main rotor blades for S-64 and CH-54 helicopters. After many years of manufacturing metal blades, the…

Scores of single engine air tankers have seen action in Australia’s bushfire season

Now that all of the major bushfires in Australia have been knocked down by combined efforts of firefighters and rain, we can look back on one of the busiest fire seasons in Australia’s history. In September, 2019 before the contracts…

Study shows correlation between rapid dispatch of air tankers and duration of wildfire

Data suggests duration of fires is shorter when air tankers are deployed early A study conducted by university researchers found that the speed of arrival of air tankers at a new fire is correlated with fires of shorter duration. The…

Two C-130Hs begin the path to transformation

Yesterday the physical process of converting two C-130H aircraft formerly owned by the Norwegian military began when they were towed from the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) in Tucson, Arizona. Coulson  Aviation (USA) Inc. purchased five C-130Hs through a…

Preliminary report released about crash of Air Tanker 134

The accident occurred January 23, 2020 in Australia Today the Australian Transport Safety Bureau released a preliminary report about the crash of Air Tanker 134, an EC-130Q, that occurred January 23, 2020 while fighting a bushfire in New South Wales.…

Interview with a Los Angeles Fire Department helicopter pilot

I interviewed one of the pilots that fly multi-mission helicopters for the Los Angeles Fire Department with the goal of obtaining enough information to write an article about the Department’s aviation program. I recorded the interview, with Pilot Brandon Prince’s…

Ontario Air Tanker Base was closed after a jettisoned load of retardant landed on homes and children

Air Tanker 135, a C-119, jettisoning 2,000 gallons of fire retardant west of the Ontario Airport, July 29, 1977. Photo by J.D. Davis. When Air Tanker 135 took off from Ontario Airport east of Los Angeles at 5:30 p.m. July…

How much does it cost to drop retardant on a fire?

Yesterday I wrote a lengthy article about exclusive use Next Generation 3.0 air tanker contracts, the Aerial Firefighting Use and Effectiveness study, air tanker availability since 2000, and the contracts that were awarded recently for Call When Needed CWN large and…

Statistics for the use of air tankers, 2000 through 2019

This chart shows data from 2000 through 2019 for the number of large air tankers (LAT) on U.S. Forest Service Exclusive Use (EU) Contracts, the number of times each year large air tankers were requested by firefighters on a wildfire,…

A fourth Q400MR delivered to Sécurité Civile

Another Dash 8-Q400 MR air tanker has been delivered to Sécurité Civile in France. This is the fourth of six Q400 MR aircraft that the agency is acquiring from Conair, which purchased the planes from the manufacturer, Bombardier. Conair converted…

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