Friday, July 31, 2015

A little history: Air Tanker Operations at Santa Barbara CA (1987)

On a nice summer afternoon I think it is time to continue to take a time out. I am sharing two videos posted by Brian Lockett showing air tanker operations at Santa Barbara CA on October 4, 1987. It is possible that I may have posted these videos before, if so they are worth seeing again. The first video is about four minutes and the second video is a little over 14 minutes. Be sure to check the link under each video where you may find information for a listing of some of the tankers you will see.

direct link to video

direct link to video

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hot Air Balloons

I like watching hot air balloon launches and a friend sent me this video that I am sharing with you today. This video is taken at dawn of a mass hot air ballon ascension at the Balloon Fiesta on Oct. 9, 2013.

direct link to video on youtube

Monday, July 27, 2015

Cutca Fire (near Mt. Palomar, Cleveland NF, CA)

The Cutca fire that is burning in the Cleveland National Forest near Mt. Palomar was first reported on July 24, 2015 and has burned 167 acres and is at 50 percent contained as I write this. The Palomar Observatory sits on top of Mt. Palomar and is not threatened by the fire. Tankers and helicopters have worked the fire in support of the wildland firefighters on the ground. A TFR is in place over the fire, meaning that aircraft not engaged in firefighting activities as well as unmanned aircraft systems are banned from overflying the wildfire.

Hearing about this fire bought me back to a half day a friend and I spent in the Cleveland National Forest three years ago. I drove from the northern San Diego suburbs to Ramona where I visited the Ramona Air Attack Base. After lunch near the base, my friend and I headed to the Palomar Observatory driving through some beautiful country. I don’t quite recall where we entered the Cleveland National Forest, but I do remember driving through the Cleveland National Forest as we drove up the mountain to the observatory. Now the mind can play tricks, but I am fairly certain that we drove by a fire station on our way up the mountain to the observatory. I remember commenting to my friend that I was glad to see the fire station in the forest and reasonably close to the observatory. 

I don’t go to California all that often and my visit to the Cleveland National Forest was the first and so far only time that I had been in or near an area in southern California that has seen wildfires. I hope that the Cutca fire stays small and is contained soon. I am glad to read that there are no evacuations and that the Palomar Observatory is not threatened. 

I write this to thank all wildland firefighters who are working the Cutca fire for all you are doing to keep everyone safe, nearby residents and businesses as well as the Palomar Observatory. 

The Cutca fire fire is but one of many, many wildfires burning in the United States and elsewhere. For all of you who are working these fire, whether on the ground or in the air, stay safe. Thanks for all you do.

For more information on the Cutca fire:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

good resource on UAS -- "No drones in firezones"

After I made my last post on UAS (drone incursion) near wildfires on July 20th, I learned about a new website called No Drones in Firezones from a good friend of mine who is involved in this website. This website is chock full of information about the dangers that unmanned aircraft systems ("drones") pose when they fly near or over wildland fires. Much or all of the informationt that I have already linked to in earlier articles on the dangers of drones near wildland fires may be found on No Drones in Firezones. As such, I want to be sure that you know about No Drones in Firezones.

For example, I learned from No Drones in Firezones that Rep. Paul Cook (R- Apple Valley) introduced a bill on July 10th known as the Wildlife Airspace Protection Act, those flying unmanned aircraft systems ("drones")  that interfere with wildland firefighting operations on federal property. I also learned of legislation introduced in the California State Legislature addressing the issue of unmanned aircraft systems ("drones") interfering with wildland firefighting operations.

Finally, I found the following video on No Drones in Firezones, a multiagency press conferences on the dangers that  unmanned aircraft systems ("drones") pose to wildland fire operations. The video was uploaded to youtube on July 10th. It is possible that I saw excerpts from this video earlier, but only learned about this almost 9 minute video the other day:

Direct link to video on youtube

Monday, July 20, 2015

More on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (drones) incursions near wildfires

downloaded from on June 24, 2015
I first wrote about the hazards that unmanned aircraft systems including hobby drones when flown near or over wildfires on June 24th. In the time since then drones have been sighted over some other wildfires out west, including the North Fire (Wildfire Today, June 19th)  that shut down the I-15 northeast of Los Angeles on Friday, June 17th. I am sure that most of you know that this fire burned several vehicles on the I-15. There was also, according to the North Fire Inciweb page, first reported on July 18th), a drone over the fire that shut down air operations for 25 minutes

I noted this at the time, pondering whether or not to write more about this drone incursion. Then I saw the most recent update of the North Fire from Inciweb (July 20th about 12:30 PM -- what you see when you access the North Fire Inciweb page may differ). I'd like to share with you what this inciweb update (July 20th about 12:30 PM)  says about drones:
An Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS or drone) halted tanker operations for about 25 minutes on Friday afternoon (June 17th), but operations soon resumed. 
Hobby drones, or (UAS) unmanned aircraft systems, pose a major safety threat to firefighting pilots and firefighters. When a hobby drone is flown into a fire area, incident commanders have no choice but to suspend air operations and ground aircraft until the drone is removed from the area. 
As hobby drones have grown in popularity, we have seen an increase in these drones interfering with firefighting operations.A collision could easily result in major damage to our aircraft, injuries to the pilot and crew on board as well as firefighters below, and worse, a midair collision.

When drones interfere with firefighting efforts, a wildfire has the potential to grow larger and cause more damage. On most wildfires, an FAA Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is put into effect and any private aircraft or drone that violates the TFR could face serious criminal charges. 
Even without a TFR, anyone who hampers firefighting efforts could face charges as well. (Inciweb on North Fire (July 20th about 12:30 PM)
The US Forest Service has a great webpage with good information about UAS or hobby drone safety over thier lands and other federal lands: Tips for Responsible Hobby or Recreationals Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or "Drones" on National Forest System Lands.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Air and ground assault on Brush Fire near Los Angeles CA on July 12th

I came across this video early this week of helicopters working to support wildland firefighters on the ground on a 15 acre brush fire near a Los Angeles CA freeway. I am reminded that those flying aerial attack on a fire do so to support the firefighters on the ground. I like this video because in addition to seeing helicopters working the fire you see the firefighters on the ground. From what I understand from the information in the video, the fire was contained at 15 acres. Nice job everyone!

direct link to video on youtube

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Aerial Attack on a wildfire matters

July 16, 2015, 7:30 AM (edit)

Yesterday, I came across a video report on Facebook from NBC Nightly News on July 10th on the role that helicopters play in fighting wildfires. I liked this report enough to want to share it with you. So, I looked around and found the full report that NBC Nightly News broadcast on July 10, 2015. The complete report and footage bothered me because the video report included some footage of a C-130 crash in 2002 and last year's S2-T crash in Yosemite. I had a hard time with the crash footage as I thought it unnecessary and it distracted me from the portion of the footage focusing on the firefighting helicopters. I originally posted a different version of this article but I decided to rewrite this post to include only the great footage that I found on Facebook on the role that helicopters play in fighting wildfires

So here, is the footage that I found on the NBC Nightly News Facebook page (that should be publicly available) on this July 10th FB post. You will hear Captain Steve Concialdi of Orange County (CA) Fire talk about the role of helicopters, calling them "worth their weight in gold because they can get up quickly and be on a fire in minutes . . ." You will see some nice footage of helos dropping, including a scene from the cockpit at night.

I tried to use the embed code from Facebook, but sadly, could not get it to work.

Matt, this is for you.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Video of CAL Fire Aircraft working a fire, RC Aircraft Club stops flying

One of the things that struck about the video that I am sharing below is that I believe that the footage was shot on the grounds of a radio control aircraft strip during an airshow they were having the weekend of July 11th and 12th 2015. The video said "CDF Cal Fire at the SCCMAS RC Air Show. When I searched for "SCCMAS" on my search engine, I came up with a website for the Santa Clara County Model Aircraft Skypark which I believe is an organization for radio controlled (RC) model aircraft. What impressed me is that according the information about the video, they shut down their RC aircraft operations while CAL FIRE aircraft were dropping on a near by. So, in addition to sharing some nice footage of tankers dropping, I applaud the SCCMAS for stopping their airshow while CAL Fire aircraft and ground crews were working the fire.

direct link to video on youtube

Friday, July 10, 2015

Martin Mars has one month contract for B.C.

You may recall that I wrote about Coulson's Martin Mars on July 8th (with a video of her). I was very happy to read in a couple of British Columbia media outlets that Coulson's Martin "Hawaii" Mars has a one month contract. The announcement was made by the British Columbia Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources on Wednesday afternoon, July 8. It will take a couple of days to get her ready, with the hope that she will be ready to fly fires this coming weekend. You might want to see this article from the Alberni Valley Times and another article from the Vancover Sun. The Martin Mars can drop 7,200 gallons or 27,276 litres of water and foam.

Once she is ready to fly fires, she will be a big help in helping wildland firefighters on the ground fight wildfires that are burning in British Columbia, one of which is buring on Dog Mountain on Sproat Lake where the Hawaii Mars is based. Coulson's other Martin Mars, the Phillipine Mars is not in condition to fly fires.

For more information on the wildfires burning in British Columbia: