Friday, February 27, 2015

Smokejumper Aircraft: Shorts Sherpa C-23A

In my recent wonderings I have found a couple of photo albums for you of the Shorts Sherpa C23A Smokejumper Aircraft. Before I get to those photo galleries, I want to point you the video of the Redding CA Smokejumper video that I posted last August. I am pretty certain that the aircraft that they are jumping out of is a Shorts Sherpa C23A.  The California Smokejumpers - Redding have an aircraft page where you can learn more about the current aircraft they use (Shorts Sherpa and Dornier (contracted) as well as past aircraft. 

The Sherpa 330 is made by the Shorts Brothers in Northern Ireland and is known as a flying wing because of its unique, aerodynamic body shape. The Sherpa has a cruise speed of 160 knots, carries up to 10 jumpers and is jumped from a stand-up position. It has a range of approximately 300 miles and is currently still used at Redding. (California Smokejumpers-Redding about aircraft
The first photo gallery that I want to share is from mtfireflyer on flickr "Shorts C-23A Sherpa" that includes 14 photos and three videos. I am hopefully successful in embedding two of mtfireflyers videos below. I have had trouble with these videos in the firefox browser, but I was able to get them to play in Chrome and Safari. My apologies if the code doesn't work for you.

I found a 2009 Smokejumper photogallery on C/NET with four photos of the Sherpa:

Finally, the Missoula Smokejumpers have a publicly available Facebook page that may be found where their aircraft photo album has a couple of pictures of a Sherpa.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

More on McCall Smokejumpers and their aircraft

I shared a great video about the McCall Smokejumpers on January 5th and if you haven't looked at this video (just under seven minutes), I hope that you take the time to look at it. I wanted to dig up some photos of the other smokejumper aircraft, the DH-6 300 series Twin Otter, the Shorts Sherpa C-23, Dornier, and Casa. I have just begun this process and in found a couple of photo galleries from the McCall Smokejumpers with some photos of the Smokejumper aircraft.

I loved the first photo gallery, McCall Smokejumpers 2014 which you may view as a slide show starting with here with the first photo. Included in this wonderful photogallery (please take a few moments to go thru the pictures) you will some pictures of a Twin Otter Smokejumper aircraft. In fact there are several pictures of the Twin Otter through out the gallery.

The McCall Smokejumpers have a photo page which includes an aircraft gallery including photos of Smokejumper aircraft (DC-3T, and the Twin Otter).

Monday, February 23, 2015

Last season for last DC-3 smokejumper aircraft - Jump 15

Earlier today, I read that this is the last season for the last DC-3 smokejumper aircraft, see Bill Gabbert's Fire Aviation Blog (February 22, 2015) and an article (February 21, 2015) from the Missoulian. Here is passage from the Missoulian February 22nd article where I got a sense of how much she is loved by her pilots and passengers.

“It has been flying since my grandpa was in the Army Air Corps,” smokejumper Colby Jackson said as the big plane’s engines howled through a pre-season test run. “He always gets a kick seeing pictures of us with the DC-3. He was stationed with them in Africa, when they were C-47s.” 
Jump-15 (its radio call sign) is the last DC-3 still hauling smokejumpers and backcountry cargo for the U.S. Forest Service. Pilots love her ability to land and launch from tiny forest airstrips, her muscle and endurance. Jumpers love her big exit door and reputation for reliability. With room for 16 parachute-strapped firefighters and all their gear, Jump-15 has twice the capacity of any other jump plane on the runway.
And in the 2005 video below at about marker 1:45 Smokejumper Skodt Jones talks about one of the DC-3 smokejumper aircraft (not sure which one). Jump 15's sister, Jump 42 retired a couple of years ago. I wrote about the DC-3 Smokejumpers on December 31, 2010.

Jump 15, I have never had the privilege of meeting you in person. I know that you are loved. You have served long as well as a smokejump aircraft. I wish that I knew how many missions you flew and where. You are almost 70 years old, wow. I wasn't born yet. A lot of us weren't born yet. You are a special lady, the last one of your kind flying as a smokejumper aircraft. I wish you, your pilots, and your smokejumpers in this your last season. Be safe. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Geronimo Hotshots 2014 season - part 2 of 2

When I posted what is now part 1 of 2 about the Geronimo Hotshots 2014 season video - Life as a Geronimo Hotshot (posted on February 16th), I did mean to watch the entire video and add some comments prior to the time the post went live. To make a long story shorts, I had to attend some unexpected personal issues the last four days, so I only now was able to sit down and watch this 25 minute video.

If you haven't watched the video, I hope that you take 25 minutes and do so now. I certainly learned a lot about the life of a hotshot crew by watching this video. More importantly, I feel like I learned about what it means to be a Geronimo Hotshot thanks to having this peak at their 2014 season. the video was shot using a Go Pro Camera, thanks to Mario Dia.

A few minutes at the start of the video is spent showing the recruitment, focusing on at least some of the fitness and agility tests that Geronimo Hotshots must pass. Footage was shown of the following tests, I suspect that there are other fitness tests that were not shown

  • running 1.5 miles in under 10 minutes 35 seconds,
  • 40 situps in one minute,
  • pull ups, the number is based on body weight, and
  • 25 pushups in one minute,
Much of the video focuses on some (but not all) of different tasks the Geronimo Hotshot crew does on a wild fire. You will see labeled footage on the following tasks:

  • handlines,
  • chain saw operations,
  • line preparation,
  • (tree) falling operations,
  • ignition operations (with a drip torch),
  • the lookout,
  • hot spotting, cold trail, and mop-up operations,
  • hiking into and out of the fire,
  • air operations (at 13:15) shot from the ground including a couple of scenes where a couple of the crew are cheering a drop,
  • single resource firing boss, and
  • single resource crew boss (leading other crews into fires)

You will also learn about some of the instruction and teaching that the Geronimo Hotshots do. The all important role of the wilderness medic on the crew is discussed along with how the crew medevacs an injured crew member.

Included near the end of the video is a nice tribute to fallen wildland firefighters. The video ends with an introduction to each of the Geronimo Hotshots.

The beauty of this video for me was twofold: (1) an educational video where I learned about some of the specific tasks that the Geronimo Hotshot crew does, and by extension other Hotshot crews, and (2) getting to know the 2014 Geronimo Hotshot crew as a crew, seeing them working together on wildfires.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dash Cam footage from Colorado grass fire.

direct link to video

Thanks to my friends at the NJ Forest Fire Service Section B-10 website for posting this video on their fire videos of the week page (updated weekly).

Monday, February 16, 2015

Geronimo Hotshots 2014 season - part 1 of 2

I admit that I only had time to watch less than half this video from the Geronimo Hotshots about their 2014 season, including their training. But in the interest of getting something out here for Monday in case I am unable to post on Monday due to outages, well here it is. Enjoy.

Allow just under 25 minutes to watch this video.

Updated on February 20th, you might be interested in what is now part 2 of 2 on the Geronimo Hotshots 2014 season (posted on February 20th) where I offer some brief reflections and include a list of what I learned from the video. Circumstances prevented from doing so before this post went live.

direct link to video

Sunday, February 15, 2015

My weather happenings

We are due to have a high wind event that was due to start late on February 14th going into February 15th. It is possible that I might either lose power or my internet. And I only have one or two posts ready to go at this point. So, if I'm not around online, that is why. And if I'm unable to post, I'll be back as soon as possible with an update on my weather and more articles.

 February 15 update (5:30 PM). The worst of the winds in NJ are off the shore as I write this. The winds were high but not as bad as they could have been. Localised scattered power outages, again not as bad is it could have been. We got about 3.5 inches of snow, higher then other nearby areas. A lot of blowing and drifting snow. As many of you know, Southern New England, Coastal Maine, and areas of Canada are seeing blizzard conditions and even more snow. We will be in the deep freeze (by New Jersey standards) tonight and again later this week. For all who are affected by today's storms and other winter weather to come, stay safe out there. And stay warm

Saturday, February 14, 2015

California Drought - Feb 13 update

I want to followup on the post I wrote on February 11th about the ongoing droughts in California. Yesterday, February 13th, the NWS California Nevada River Forecast Center (CNRFC) posted videos (in three parts) with an update on the water supply conditions for California on February 13th, 2015. These videos may also be found on the CNRFC youtube channel, and their facebook page (posted Feb. 13th, 2015)

Note that you will see on the beginning of each video "do not use after 5PM PST on February 20th, 2015. What this means is that if you are happening on this page after February 20th, that the information presented in the videos will not be current. In that case current updates on the water supply conditions in California (updated daily) may be found on this CNRFC page on water resources.

The Latest Water Supply Conditions for California. Part 1: How Did We Get into a Drought

direct link to video

The Latest Water Supply Conditions for California. Part 2 - Reservoir Storage

direct link to video

The Latest Water Supply Conditions for California. Part 3 - Water Supply Projections

direct link to video

Friday, February 13, 2015

Airtankers working bushfires in Australia (January 2015)

I’d like to share some videos of large air tankers working bushfires in Australia. You will see Coulson’s C-130Q and Aero Flite’s Avro RJ-85.

Thanks to Bill Gabbert of Fire Aviation who first shared this video of large air tankers (C-130Q and an Avro RJ-85) at RAAF Base Edinburgh along with a Gulfstream Aero Commander (Air Attack). These aircraft worked bushfires that burned near Adelaide in early January of 2015 (see this January 7th article from the New Daily for a summary of this 12,500 hectares and destroyed about 32 residences before being contained. See Bill’s article of January 8th where he shared and described the video that I embed below:

direct link to video

Here is another video that I found of the C-130Q, also at RAAF Base Edinburgh:

direct link to video

Finally, here is a video of the Avro RJ-85 dropping on a fire in Victoria Australia, thanks to Fire Aviation (2/4/15) where I first saw this video.

direct link to video

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

California droughts - quick update

The ongoing drought in California has been on my mind since my trip to San Diego before Thanksgiving, see the reflections that I wrote on December 1, 2014. And of course, the drought in California and elsewhere has implications for wildfire danger. I continue to follow the California drought and will be writing more on the California drought from time to time. I'd like to share a few resources with you concerning the drought.

The California Nevada River Forecast Center has a drought information page with lots of information about the drought, both nationally as well as focusing on California and Nevada. Near the top of the page you will see the latest U.S. Drought Monitor Map. The one below is dated February 3 2015 (released on February 5)

The California River Forecast Center has a presence on both Facebook and Twitter.

The California Department of Water Resources has a drought information page, also chock full of information on the drought including information about California's Water Year 2014 (October 1, 2013 to Septenmber 30, 2014) reporting on below normal snowpack from last winter and below normal rainfall.

I know that California has seen some more rainfall since the rains that came last December (go here and here for more information on one of the December rain storms in California). I also understand that the snowpack in the mountains of California is again below normal, see a January 30th article by Matt Weiser of the Sacromento Bee here.

I do know that there were more rains in areas of California a few days ago. I am in the process of finding more information to share with you on those rains, so stay tuned.