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Aerial Support Key to Fighting Southern California Fires

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As a resident of Agoura Hills, one of the communities evacuated as a result of the devastating Woolsey Fire, I was closely watching the progression of the fire as it quickly ravaged the hillsides surrounding our neighborhood. The fire flared up on Thursday afternoon and within less than 30 hours had burned through 70,000 acres, fueled by raging Santa Ana winds topping 50 mph. The strong winds prevented aerial firefighters from attacking the flames. The only reason few homes in Oak Park, Agoura… (www.flyingmag.com) More...

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sgbelverta
sharon bias 7
McClellan airfield is one of the major home ports for these birds. My house is directly below the short final approach. When one of these planes comes in hot, descending and making a 90 degree turn directly over my house, it's truly a sight to see. The end of the runway is 1.25 miles from my house. These pilots must have been carrier pilots in another life.
joelwiley
joel wiley 4
Sharon, have you been watching the 744 N744st?
https://flightaware.com/live/flight/N744ST
Friday, Sunday, Monday it was dropping on the Camp Fire that burned over Paradise.
4 sorties each of those days and 3 on Tuesday. About a 45 minute round trip and 30-45 min reload is a real quick cycle. I wouldn't be surprised if it's had a million gallon year, unfortunately.
sgbelverta
sharon bias 6
Watch it? I can darn near count the tire treads as they come in for a landing. I'm under the "short" final approach, which is basically turn, drop, and land in 90 seconds. The "long" approach comes in a straight line from the north, about at the city of Lincoln. The 90 degree turn occurs at Cherry Island Golf course, and you can see how close the runway is. https://www.google.com/maps/@38.6986955,-121.4050342,2696m/data=!3m1!1e3
djames225
djames225 5
Not just N744st, joel. 10Tanker also has 1 or 2 units there with a short 15-20min turn around time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mW0XQI525UE
SmittySmithsonite
SmittySmithsonite 3
This guy has the BEST Youtube videos on the fires. Juan Browne - a veteran of the Air Force - flew C-130's, flies a 777 for a living, and owns a 40's Luscombe. Whenever I want news about CA, I go to his channel rather than the mainstream news.

Years back, he was in training to fly these fire bombers, but the airlines called with a better offer.

https://youtu.be/mW0XQI525UE
djames225
djames225 3
Yes..posted that video link in here..good report on McClellan Airfield refueling/reloading retardant on 10Tanker and N744st Global Tanker..lunch to the cockpit via a rope and hook for 10Tanker.
SmittySmithsonite
SmittySmithsonite 2
Ahh, sorry for the double post! I missed that at first glance. I see it now ...
djames225
djames225 2
No need to be sorry..I also like his reports on the Orville dam
SmittySmithsonite
SmittySmithsonite 1
Me too - that's how I found his channel. I heard about the incident on the news, but wanted to know more. I got that and then some on his channel! What a great video series that was.
UAL777
Jim Newton 2
Excellent channel!!! I have saved this link.
UAL777
Jim Newton 3
I am very thankful there is a good aviation-related discussion going on about this. For many years, I have been advocating the retrofit of commercial aircraft; now we at least have the D-10's and the 744. I have also researched the politics (it's a shame I have to use that word when it comes to saving lives on the ground) between the U.S. Forest Service and CAL FIRE. I, and some of my Fire Department friends, are appalled at the "bidding wars" which go on while there are thousands of people's lives being destroyed and taken on the ground. However, CAL FIRE and the Forest Service have been involved in litigation regarding the use of the VLAT's and what bothers me more is that they won't, under any circumstances, deploy these aircraft on Initial Attack. So much for caring for the thousands of people's lives on the ground.

I would like to see a C-5M stripped and retrofitted as I think it could deliver more Foschek and/or water on these fires sooner.
joelwiley
joel wiley 2
There are different tools for different jobs with some overlap between best tools and jobs. I haven't heard that Vlats are NEVER used on Initial Attack, but it seems reasonable to use the more maneuverable S-2 (in Calif) or the BAe-146 in that role where it can be used for direct or indirect attack at the discretion of the fire boss. Here is a bit of info on Lats, Vlats and Calif contracts:

https://www.aerial-firefighting-northamerica.com/2018/02/28/large-air-tankers-vs-very-large-air-tankers/
djames225
djames225 1
I am surprised the BAe-146 wasn't used..I know the Forestry Service loves it's retardant, which the 146 can't drop, but anything and everything should be thrown at these fires when they get so far out of hand. At least to give ground crews a fighting chance.
joelwiley
joel wiley 1
I think the BAe-146 can and now is dropping retardant.
https://www.airspray.com/bae-1461.html

The Canadair CL-415 is also a great tool in the right place. 3 were dropping on a fire south of Cascade Locks Oregon with a 7 minute turnaround. Wouldn't work so well in the Mohave Desert where dipping spots are sparse. Too bad there are so few of them.
djames225
djames225 2
Nice find, joel..glad to see the jet now has retardant capability. I know Viking Air has been asked repeatedly to restart CL-415 production and has a variant and newer model on the boards. You have to also remember, they can be filled at ground level using retardant, should the need arise and dipping spots are scarce. Pump and fill ports located on either side so wouldn't take long to refill.
badflaps
mike boden 2
As best I can tell there were 40 contract aircraft in 2004 and 11 this year.
badflaps
mike boden 1
There is no reason for people to burn in their cars. Horrible.
UAL777
Jim Newton 1
I am fully aware of how the assets are contracted; it just seems a shame there has to be so much competition in this business. I am an idealist, but also a realist; I would like to see this contractual competition be eliminated. Here is what I was reading the other day: http://smallgovcon.com/gaobidprotests/gao-sustains-protest-of-unduly-restrictive-solicitation-requirement/
joelwiley
joel wiley 1
Interesting article, thanks for posting. It excluded the DC-10s as well. Interesting that the lower limit was 3000 gal for a contract that included initial attack. Since the GST can selectively drop partial loads, USFS could use it for multiple drops on a single flight. Good call on GAO's part
UAL777
Jim Newton 1
Some excellent footage of the 744: http://globalsupertanker.com/b747-400-supertanker/gallery/

I would think that a military cargo aircraft, like the C-5M, with more powerful engines cut put more retardant or water on the fire and if a refueling system could be developed so as to allow the aircraft not be required to RTB, this would be an advantage. I welcome all comments and suggestions.
djames225
djames225 1
From my understanding, the speed which the aircraft would need to achieve to properly drop the water and retardant, would cause it to stall. That and there are limited runways around that can handle the C-5M.
Refill posts need to be close to reduce turnaround time, and to refill the tanks would be very time consuming. You need these craft in, quick check and refuelled of both fuel and retardant/water in as short a time as possible. 10Tanker can do it in 15-20 mins, 744 takes about 30-45 mins.

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