Friday, December 19, 2014

Chuchupate Helitack

Continuing with sharing wildland firefighting crew videos, here is another helitack crew video, this one is from the Chuchupate H-530 Helitack Crew (USFS-Los Padres National Forest) summarizing thier 2013 season. I enjoyed the footage of their helo, cockpit shots as well as external shots. There is also some footage of tankers and helos dropping as well footage of the Chuchupate Crew working fires. Allow just over 18 minutes to watch the video. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Mesa Verde Helitack (2013 season)

Continuing with sharing videos from wildland firefighting crews, here is a nice video summarizing the Mesa Verde Helitack crew's 2013 season. You will see some nice helo footage as well as footage of tankers and helos dropping to support the crews on the ground.

direct link to video on youtube

Monday, December 15, 2014

About being a Geronimo Hot Shot

As you may have figured out, I've been sharing videos showing various wildland firefighting crews in action. Today, listen to the Geronimo Hotshots talk about what they do. They are a Native American Crew.

direct link to video

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Adious (original) T-910, gone but not forgotten (2 of 2)

I first learned about you from a friend in May 2009 when I first started writing about aerial wildland firefighting, and I first wrote about you on May 16, 2009. Modified by 10 Tanker Air Carrier for firefighting, you carry 11,600 gallons of retardant — four times more retardant than most other tankers flying today. You can put down a line of retardant one mile long (see the 10Tanker's “the plane” page for more information about DC-10 tankers. By the time I first learned about you, you had been flying fires since 2006. 

I wanted to be able to share about the number of fires that your flew, so I wrote 10 Tanker the other day, asking for some of your statistics, and Rck Hatton, President and CEO of 10 Tanker Air Carrier responded providing some statistics for T-910 and their plans for the future:

In nine fire seasons this aircraft was flown 761 missions on 156 fires. This required 805 flight hours, and dispensed 8,827,600 U.S. Gals. of suppressant. This would have taken more than four times this amount of flying by any other aircraft type available.
While the aircraft is being retired, it is being replaced with a newer DC-10 which will carry the “910” number. We at 10 Tanker Air Carrier are very proud of the fire-fighting capability that this aircraft and her sister ships 911 and 912 have provided the nation thus far. We are looking forward to contracting and building a fleet of up to eight DC-10s to continue affording the U.S. and other countries this innovative product in more locations (Rick Hatton).
Wow, your numbers show how much of a difference you made, 761 missions on 156 fires. Over 8,800,000 gallons of retardant, that is a lot of retardant. 

I remember the first videos that I saw in 2009 of you dropping on a fire and being impressed by the long line of retardant that you lay down and thinking that you can do a lot of good on a fire. Over the years, I have seen you and your sisters numerous times either on videos and perhaps once or twice on a live stream feed of aircraft working fires. I never tired of seeing you or your sisters dropping on a fire and the friends who have watched you from the ground while you were over a fire tell me how special it was to see you. My respect and love for you has only grown over the subsequent years.

In the summer of 2011 the US Forest Service terminated its contract with Aero Union resulting in the loss of their P-3 Orions from the airtanker fleet, (here for more information), I wondered what would happen. It was August and there were a lot of weeks left in the fire season. Then I remembered that you were there fighting fires, and I felt better. You and your sister (T-911) made a big difference as did our friends from Canada and the MAFFs. After that I became more aware of your presence over wildfires and everywhere you went, you were loved. You made a difference, a big difference. In the months and years since then, you and your sisters continued to make a difference, and you are loved.

But you are special, you were the first. And I will always love you for that. You lived to be retired. I know that there will be another DC-10 T-910, but she won’t be you. You can not be replaced. I will miss you. My you fly in favorable tail winds . . .

T-910 dropping on Goff Fire (2012)

T-910 dropping on Zaca Fire (2007)

T-910 over the Humboldt Fire (2008?)

Friday, December 12, 2014

2014 Fire Season - Jackson Hotshots

No, I haven't forgotten that I promised the write my reflections on the retirement of DC-10 T-910. To that end, I spent some time this afternoon writing a draft of the article that I want to post, but it needs a little more work before I share the article. So, I will be posting my reflections tomorrow.

In the meantime, I want to share another video from highlighting the 2014 fire season of a hotshot crew. Here is a video about the Jackson Hotshots.

direct link to video

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Adios (original) T-910 (1 of 2)

I was in San Diego California four weeks ago when I first learned that 10 Tanker retired T-910 after reading Bill Gabbert's article of November 14. She got a great send off and tribute when she took off for the last time from Castle Airport, her base since 2013.

I thought that you might enjoy reading some of the comments from 10 Tanker Air Carrier's Facebook Page after she took her final flight, go here for a nice photo of her last take off along with some comments and photos and a video shared by many who love her. Please take the time to scroll through the comments, check out the photos and the video and shed a tear or two for a maginficant airplane.

I'll be posting an article on December 13 where I will share some reflections of my own on T-910. But in the mean time, I want to share a video with you.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Mad River Hotshots

I love watching videos shot by groundpounders. Here is a nice video shot by the Mad River Hotshots summarizing their 2014 season. Thanks Mad River Hotshots for all you did to keep us safe! You'll some footage of tankers and helos. Remember tankers and helos do what they do to support the crews on the ground.

Enjoy! Allow just under 24 minutes to watch the video.

direct link to video on youtube

Friday, December 05, 2014

Southern California rains: update on 12/5/14

I believe that this will be the final update that I will be making on the rains that California experienced this week (December 2 through 4). I have the Facebook Page for the San Diego office of the US National Weather Service bookmarked. When I went there this morning, I saw a nice graphic that they had posted mapping rainfall totals (3-day observed rainfall ending 12/4/14 at 5 PMPST) for portions of Southern California (go here to see the rainfall graphic). Here are some of these rainfall totals:

San Diego: 2.53 inches
Ramona: 1.3 inches
Riverside: 2.46 inches
Los Angeles: 1.32 inches
Chino: 2.82 inches
Palomar Mountain: 3.55 inches

I was also curious about mudslides. I found this report from MyFoxLA (with video) on December 4th about mud slide conditions in the LA area: An area of the Pacific Coast Highway north of Malibu (Ventura County) reopened on Thursday, 40 people in Riverside County were rescued after being stranded by flash flooding and seven homes on Gilman Springs Rd in San Jacinto CA (north of Hemet) were evacuated due to the risk of another mud slide.

Here is a report from early in the day on December 4 from MSN on the storms effect on the State of California.

Finally I close with two articles from the LA Times:

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Rain in Southern California, a double edged sword?

It started to rain in Southern California on the night of December 1st. Any rain in drought stricken Southern California is a good thing.  But with the benefits of the rain to a very dry area comes the down side. The other edge of the sword. With these rain storms comes mud slides, and areas that are especially at risk include the hillsides of areas recently burned by wildfires. Denuded of trees because of a fire, the hills become unstable in the rain resulting in mud flows. The US National Weather Service Los Angeles/Oxnard spoke of this risk in a weather story posted on their Facebook page on December 3, 2014:

“There will be some instability across portions of Los Angeles County later this afternoon and evening into the overnight hours. A flash flood watch remains in effect for the Los Angeles County burn areas through early Thursday morning. Although showers will be mostly moderate to locally heavy at times. With the possibility of local higher hourly rainfall rates and given the expected rainfall amounts in the foothills and mountains, there will be the potential for flash flooding in and around the recent burn areas is a concern through early Thursday morning. Residents close to the recent burn areas (including the Springs, Colby, Powerhouse and Williams burn areas) should be prepared for mud and debris flows.”

Some of you may recall:

The Powerhouse Fire that burned 30,274 acres in the Angeles National Forest in June of 2013.

The Springs Fire that burned 24,251 acres in May of 2013 in Ventura County.

Colby Fire that burned 1,952 acres in the Angeles National Forest in January of 2014.

In Ventura County, residents in areas throated by mud slides were evacuated, see this story from KPBS (12/2/14)

According to this report from CBS News on December 2nd evacuations were planned in Silverado in Orange County because of expected mud slides and a weak rain system on November 30th caused a mud slide that blocked a portion of the Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu.

I found this story from CBS Los Angeles (12/3/14) about the effects of the 2-day rainfall.

Moving further south, here is a report on the rain storm from CBS8 in San Diego.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Reflections: Drought affecting Southern CA (including Mt. Wilson)

I was in southern California for the week of November 17th when I began my series on Mt. Wilson. As fate would have it, there were about 48 hours of Red Flag Warnings for areas east of where I was staying north of San Diego. If memory serves, the Red Flag Warnings included the Angeles National Forest where Mt. Wilson is located. Before going to southern California I was aware of the severe drought that according to my my meteorologist friends in souther California has been ongoing for three years. As fate would have it, there is a rain storm expected this week in Southern California, and several of these storms will be needed to alleviate the drought in Southern California. I wonder what will happen if there is another year of extreme to exceptional drought? As I write this, Southern California ranges from severe to exceptional drought depending on the exact location. I believe but am not certain that Mt. Wilson lies in an area that is in an exceptional drought (the most severe drought category). For information on the current status of droughts in the U.S., to the U.S. Drought Monitor. As you can guess while I was in San Diego County, I was very much aware of the drought and the fire danger. I did my best to use as little water as possible, but admit that some of my bad and wasteful water habits were a little hard to dispel. But I got better as the week wore on. I thought of my friends at the Mt. Wilson Observatory, wondering how they were making out. I suspect that everyone in southern California is in the same boat, more or less, as my friends at the Mount Wilson Observatory — too little water and serious water conservation efforts are under way. I was and am scared for all of Southern California and all the other dry wildfire prone areas out west. I think that I am more scared now that I recently spent a week in Southern California. Whether or not there are active Red Flag Warnings, it won’t take that much for a wildfire to start that could, depending on winds and other factors, threaten Mount Wilson Observatory, Palomar Observatory and other residences, schools, research centers and businesses in Southern California. I also know that CAL FIRE and their sister wildland firefighting agencies (on the ground and in the air) are good at what they do. Stay safe everyone. I am hoping for a wet winter in drought affected areas out west.

Will be back later today

I'll be back later today with my regular Monday post. I hope that everyone in the U.S. and elsewhere who celebrated Thanksgiving had a nice holiday and had safe travels. I myself had a nice quiet holiday, although I picked up a cold which put a bit of a damper on things.