Aerial Firefighting Demonstration

C59F7974.jpgEvery other year the Aerial Firefighting conference comes to North America.  This year it was held at McLellan Field near Sacramento.  A tow day conference, I originally was going to attend on both days.  Unfortunately, I had a work conflict and had to miss the first day.  Fortunately I was able to be there on the second day which was the day that included a demonstration session on the airfield.  An internal exhibition of products and services was open for the entire time but the demonstration included a wide number of airframes – far too large to fit indoors.

C59F8003.jpgThere was a wide variety of types on display.  Helicopters are a big part of aerial firefighting and there was a number on display.  Airbus Helicopters had brought their H215 demonstrator along as the conclusion of their North American tour.  This version of the Super Puma is a derivative of the AS332 (and indeed this airframe had a data plate that listed it as an AS332) and is designed to be a simplified and cheaper version providing a more affordable utility type.  It was alongside a new Bell 412 and some refurbished airframes including a Bell 205 and a freshly refurbished UH-60 Black Hawk.

AU0E2137.jpgFixed wing types came in all shapes and sizes too.  Air Tractor AT802s were on display in both wheeled and amphibious configurations and these two aircraft put on a number of water drop demonstrations.  A Pilatus PC-12 provided a demonstration of management of a fire with down linked information.  Calfire had a Bronco and a Tracker on the ramp while a bunch of Broncos were busy in a flying program to get ready for the season.  MAFFS had a P-3 on the ramp while another took off early in the program.  A Bombardier CL415 shared ramp space with a Neptune conversion of the BAE Systems RJ85.

C59F7932.jpgHowever, the ramp was dominated by one aircraft.  Global Supertanker had brought their converted Boeing 747-400 to show off.  They have taken the system from the 747-100 airframe previously in use and added it to a more modern version of the airframe.  Fresh from the paint shop and shortly to receive approval of the STC, they were keen to show off the aircraft.  I am not sure how well it will fit in with the needs of firefighting agencies around the world but it certainly is an impressive beast.

C59F7979.jpgI didn’t get to take as many stills as I had planned.  The organizers asked me to shoot some video for the, which I did.  Hayman was working with me so he made sure we had the necessary shots for the GAR feature.  After a few passes, I was able to switch and get some stills anyway.  I also got roped in to taking the group photo for the conference attendees.  If I had known that was required, I would have made some arrangements to get a better vantage point.  Still, it was a good day out and the conference sessions I saw were similarly informative.  Next year it is in France.  Perhaps we shall have to go!

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