Friday, October 21, 2016

Another look back at airtankers at Santa Barbara in 1987

I have shared some of Brian Lockett's (of earlier. On Jan 30, 2013 I shared the first of a five part video he did of airtanker operations at Santa Barbara (CA) on October 3, 1987. Then on July 31, 2015 I shared two more of Brian's videos, one is part 5 of his October 4th series of videos of tanker operations at Santa Barbara and the second was shot on October 5th. 

Today I am sharing part 2 of Brian Lockett's five-part series of videos of air tanker operations at Santa Barbara. I enjoy Brian's videos not only because he labels many of the tankers you will be seeing in the video, but also because he shows some commercial airliners. And at times, I hear some radio chatter in the background.

Thanks to Brian Lockett for identifying the tankers in his videos. Including among the airtankers that you will see in this video are:

  • Fairchild 123 Provider T-123
  • Douglas C-54D Skymaster T-13
  • Lockheed P2V T-12 (Neptune Aviation)
  • Lockheed P2V T-11 (Neptune Aviation)
  • Lockheed P2V-7 T-7 (Aero Union)
  • PB4Y2 Privateer T-124
  • Douglas C-54 Skymaster T-16

Direct Link to video from Brian Lockett on Youtube

As I watched the video, I found myself thinking of how wonderful it is to see some historic airtankers in action. At the same time on a somewhat sadder note I found myself reflecting on the danger involved in flying airtankers. At least one of the airtankers that you will see in the video -- Neptune Aviation's Lockheed P2-V Tanker 11 was destroyed in a crash (June 3, 2012). The flying that airtanker and helicopter pilots do when flying wildfires is risky, and they do so to support the wildland firefighters on the ground. Many pilots and crew have died flying fires, your loss is not forgotten.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Geronimo Hotshots - 2016 wildfire season

I have been sharing videos from my friends, the Geronimo Hotshots, for the last few years. I was thrilled to find this video with highlights of their 2016 wildfire season. This video is a trailer, if you will, from their 2016 highlights video that is still in production. I am looking forward to thier next video and will share it here. Thank-you Geronimo Hotshots for all you do to keep us safe. Thank-you for your videos that bring us into your world. Stay safe.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Thanks to wildland firefighters on the ground and in the air

I was taking some down time just now watching an old tv show from the 1970s, Emergency, the episode (from season 3) depicted a (fictional) account of a wildfire in the Los Angeles area of southern California. As I was sitting there watching the show, with what may have been some actual footage of a southern California fire from the period.

The show had a scene when three firefighters were surrounded by a fire after rescuing another firefighter who was trapped under a truck. They called for water drops and then made a safe space and dug in and waiting for help to come. In the manner of feel good TV, this had a happy ending. Water drops were made and the trapped firefighters were rescued.

In real life there are not always happy endings. Sometimes firefighters die, sometimes civilians die, firefighters and civilians are injured,  houses are lost and businesses are lost. In time, structures can be rebuilt. In some cases people will heal from their injuries and resume their lives. But sometimes lives are changed. People injured in a wildire may face a long recovery and may not be able to go back to what they were doing before the wildfire. Loved ones die.

I am reminded about how tankers and helos work a wildfire in the air to support wildland firefighters on the ground. It is dangerous work, that they do keep us safe.

I want to pause and remember all wildland firefighters, in the air and on the ground. Thank-you for keeping us safe. Thank-you for your sacrifice. Thoughts and prayers for all who have died in the line of duty.

This is one of my favorite tribute videos, and I have shared it at least once a few years back on this blog. I share it again in honor of all wildland firefighters. Thank-you

Direct link to video on Youtube

Friday, October 14, 2016

IMET deployments - early fall 2016

While wildfire activity may have eased up somewhat in some parts of the United States, wildfire season is still going on in California and other Western States. Regular readers may recall that I have posted some articles National Weather Service (NWS) Incident Meteorologists (IMETs), Meteorologists who are trained to be onsite at a wildfire providing weather forecasts for the incident.

I was wondering about IMET deployment so I went to the USNWS IMET Facebook page to find out about recent IMET deployments going back to late September. I saw that an IMET from the NWS Sacramento, CA Weather Forecast Office was deployed to the Sobranes Fire on September 30th. I'll get back to the Sobranes Fire in a moment. On or about October 13, an IMET from the NWS Hanford, WA Weather Forecast Office was deployed to the Sacata Fire. The Sacata Fire started on Tuesday, October 11th near Trimmer, California in the Sierra National Forest (Fresno County). As I write this (October 14, 2016 at 2:15 EDT) the Sacata Fire has burned 1,700 acres and is at 35 percent containment.

Back to the Sobranes Fire. There have been a total of 14 IMETs (as of September 30th) that have been deployed to the Sobranes Fire, while not at the top of the list for the number of IMETs deployed to a single fire, the Sobranes Fire is number 8 on the list as of September 30th. Number one on the list for total IMETs deployed to an incident is 29 for the 2011 Texas Fires. See this post on the USNWS IMET page for more information.

I got interested in the Sobranes Fire and I see that according the latest update on the Sobranes Fire inciweb page that the fire was 100 percent contained on October 12, 2016 at 132,127 acres. The cause of the fire was an illegal campfire. Normally IMETs are deployed to a wildfire for two weeks. I have no idea of the IMET deployed on September 30th is still working the Sobranes Fire. I did some checking on the Sobranes Fire photo page and found a couple of videos that I think you might be interested in. Before I get to that, for those of you who are arriving here some months after the Sobranes Fire was contained, I never quite know how long the link to the Sobranes Fire will be active. So if the links here do not work, you will know why.

One of the things that an IMET does on a frequent basis while working a wildfire is to make weather briefings for those working the fire. I found a video of IMET, Julia R, uploaded on September 30, 2016, Julia is giving a weather briefing for the Sobranes Fire. I learned a lot about the importance of incident specific weather forecasts and how weather plays a role in fire behavior. Forecasts such as this one provided by an IMET provide crucial information about the weather conditions and what wildland firefighters on the ground and in the air can expect. IMETs save lives!

Finally, here is another video from an IMET and his IMET trainee on or about August 28th discussing the importance of the ballon launch they were doing one morning. You will learn about balloon launches and how data from a balloon launch over or near a wildfire can help forecast fire behavior so the wildland firefighters can be prepared to fight the wildfire in possibly changing weather conditions. IMETs save lives!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Tankers reloading at Redding Air Attack Base (2015)

Time to stand by the fence and watch tankers reloading at Redding Air Attack Base in July 2015. Thanks to John Lord for the great video allowing us to watch along with him. Enjoy!

Direct link to video from John Lord

Monday, October 10, 2016

CAL FIRE Super Huey - Helitack 106 in action

I found this great 16 minute video today from W Colby showing a CAL FIRE Super Huey, Helitack 106, in action. The video was uploaded in August, 2015. There are some great close-up shots. Talk about up close and personal!

Friday, October 07, 2016

NOAA WP-3D Ms. Piggy flies through Hurricane Matthew's eyewall

Join NOAA's WP-3D Orion -- #NOAA43 (aka Ms. Piggy) -- and her pilots and crew as they take a bumpy flight through the eyewall of Major Hurricane Matthew recently. Credit Capt. Tim Gallagher/NOAA for this shot, close-up view of flying through the eyewall. His video was shared on The NOAA Hurricane Hunters Facebook Page sometime late night on October 6th/7th. Thank-you Capt. Gallagher for taking us with you and your crew.

Stay safe all in his path. Please evacuate if you are in a coastal area in his path.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Hurricane Hunters flying Major Hurricane Matthew -- Thank-you!!

Direct link to video

Obtained from at 2:24 PM on October 5, 2016
This information is current at the time noted above, see for the latest advisories for Matthew
Since I first wrote about Hurricane Hunters last year (NOAA and USAF 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron) I find myself thinking about all who pilot and crew Hurricane Hunters just as I always think about those who fly tankers and helicopters used to fight wildfires. Once I write about aircraft, I get involved. As both NOAA and the USAF 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron have been making daily or twice daily sorties into Hurricane Matthew (a category three hurricane as I write this), I want to pause and say "thank-you." Somehow saying thank-you seems wholly inadequate. You are flying hurricanes and penetrating the eyewall in order to provide data to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). The NHC in turn uses this data as the provide us with forecasts, discussions and advisories. All so that we can be as safe as we can, and to evacuate if need be.

Last Friday, September 30th, Matthew was a category five hurricane which means that his top winds were in excess of 156 miles per hour (according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale). This meant the Hurricane Hunter flying reconnaissance last Friday was flying through winds in excess of 156 miles per hour as they were penetrating the eyewall. And they made a few penetrations. Not all Hurricanes are Cat 5, and Matthew is down to Cat 3 as I write this. Still . . .  Thank-you Hurricane Hunters for doing what you do to provide with the information so that we may evacuate if warranted. You fly Hurricanes to keep us safe. Thank-you.

For those of you who might want a safe arm chair view of what it is like to fly into the eyewall of a major Hurricane, see the article that I wrote on October 28, 2015 where I embedded some footage shot from one of the Hurricane Hunters who flew Hurricane Patricia last fall. She was a Category 5 Hurricane as she made landfall in Mexico.

You fly were no other airplanes can go. Thank-you.

Stay safe everyone. Please heed any evacuation advisories.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Loma Fire - October 3rd

The Loma Fire (Santa Clara County, California) has burned 4,474 acres as I write this, up from 4,313 acres burned on September 30th. It is at 81 percent containment; 12 residences and 16 other structures have been destroyed. Some mandatory evacuation orders remain in place with 81 structures threatened. The latest update from CAL FIRE (updated periodically while the fire is actively burning) may be found here.

I have two more videos to share with you. The first video, uploaded to Youtube by High Flyer on September 30th, shows more air operations.

Direct link to video

The second video is a video thanking the wildland firefightiners, uploaded on September 30th. I always like seeing videos thanking firefighters. I know that the thanks expressed in this videos is heartfelt. Thank-you wildland firefighters on the ground and in the air. Stay safe as you continue to fight this wildfire. You rock!

Direct link to video

Friday, September 30, 2016

Loma Fire (CA) Air Operations #2

I wrote about the Loma Fire on September 28th where I shared a short video from a local news outlet of air operations over the fire. Today I will share two more videos showing air operations over the Loma Fire. But first, an update. As I write this, the Loma Fire has burned 4,313 acres in Santa Clara County, California. The fire is at 34 percent containment. Eight residences and nine outbuildings have been destroyed, an additional 325 buildings are threatened. Evacuation orders remain in place.  CAL FIRE has an incident page for the Loma Fire, the latest incident page (updated periodically while the fire is active) may be found here.

Both of the videos that I am embedding below were uploaded by W Colby. Allow about 15 minutes to watch both videos.

Direct link to video on Youtube

Direct link to video on Youtube