Friday, December 02, 2022

2022 wildfire season: Diamond Mountain Hotshots 2022 fire season

Enjoy this wonderful video by 6shopfilms summarizing the Diamond Mountain Hotshots 2022 fire season. Allow nine minutes to watch the video. You will see scenes of the hotshots on the fireline, some helicopter bucket work, a couple of airtankers over the fire, a larger helicopter dropping on a fire along with some fire footage.

Direct link to video by 6shopfilms on YouTube 

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

2022 wildfires: Hurricane Ridge Fire (Haywood County NC)

As I am interested in current wildfires of any size currently burning in the United States because I know that in this day and age, wildfire season can run all year or at least from early spring into late fall in areas that receive snowfall. I did a little checking around to find out what  was going on. In my wonderings, I had seen reference to the Hurricane Ridge Fire in a remote section of North Carolina was first reported on November 23rd. I understand this fire has burned about 500 acres. There may be a specific page on the web devoted to this fire outside of media, but I have not found it. However, there is some media coverage, current as of the day I am writing this. ABC13 News out of Asheville NC has some coverage dated November 19th that may be found here, there have been smokey conditions along nearby highways. Rainfall Tuesday night into Wednesday November 30th may help firefighters as the work to contain the fire.

Here is a video report that I found on YouTube from WSPA 7News dated November 29th reporting on the Hurricane Ridge Fire.

Direct link to video from WSPA 7News on YouTube

Monday, November 28, 2022

Reflections: 2016 Chimney2Fire Gaitlinburg Tennesse

There is hardly a day that passes when I do not about wildland fires on the ground with the support of aviation resources. Today is no exception. While I often think about areas in California that have seen major wildfires this time of year, in part due to the Santa Anna winds, wildfires can happen elsewhere. I recall the Chimney2 Fire that burned over 17,000 acres killing 14 people in the Great Smokey Mountains in Tennessee and Gatlinburg Tennessee, see my December 2 and December 5, 2016 articles. Today I pause and remember all those who died in that fire, those who lost homes, and the wildland firefighters on the ground supported by aviation resources.

On a personal note, I have not been the Great Smokeys in Tennessee, but I have been the Great Smokies in western North Carolina and can appreciate the rough terrain and the challenges this terrain poses to wildland firefighters.

Direct link to article from WBIR Channel 10

Friday, November 25, 2022

Friday Fun: Ag Aviation Demo

Enjoy this video of Ag Aviation airplanes -- an Air Tractor AT-802A and a Thrusy 510P demonstrating crop dusting at the 2021 EAA AirVenture. 

Direct link to video by AirshowStuffVideos

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving

As many of us are celebrating Thanksgiving here in the United States with our family and friends, please join me in pausing to remember and be grateful for the service of wildland firefighters, structure firefighters, law enforcement, emergency medical responders and other first responders are on duty today, away from their families, to keep us safe.


Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Cranberry operations in the NJ Pine Barrens revisited

Happy Thanksgiving a day early. For those of you who are planning to travel this holiday weekend, I wish you safe travels. Many of you will be having a Turkey dinner that will include cranberries. New Jersey has some cranberry bogs in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Perhaps some of the cranberries that you will have tomorrow were grown in New Jersey. The video I shared above was shot by New York Live two years ago focusing on the Pine Island Cranberry growers.

Just over ten years ago, the folk at Downstown Aero Crop Services invited me down to their strip near Chatsworth NJ where they were spraying near by cranberry bogs where in addition to seeing Downstown's Ag aviation operations. In addition, I visited two nearby cranberry growers: Pine Island and Lee Brothers. On October 26, 2012 I shared a video compilation of still photos and a short video of Ag Cats that Downstown owned at the time taking off and then spraying the Pine Island cranberry bogs. In honor of New Jersey cranberries, I am sharing my October 2012 compilation again.

Direct link to video on YouTube

In my October 31, 2012 I wrote the first of two posts about Pine Island's cranberry operations, in part one I shared links to a Pine Island Blog where they wrote of their cranberry operations (the links are still working as I write this ten years later). I posted my second article about Pine Island on November 2, 2012, focusing on their packing house. Finally on November 5, 2012 I shared some photos I took at Lee Brothers (near Speedwell NJ).

Monday, November 21, 2022

Thanksgiving Week 2022 Monday Fun: Aeroshell Aerobatic Team

It is Thanksgiving week here in the United States and I am planning to take a time out and share some fun airplane videos. Of course, I do try to keep an eye out as best I can for major wildfires and related news and if that happens I will share about major developments here.

One of the YouTube Channels that I go to when I am looking for something fun to share is AirshowStuffVideos, they have oodles of videos taken at various air shows. AirShowStuff may be found on the web here. I was going through their videos this morning looking for something a little different and fun to share with you when I came across a video that AirshowStuffVideos shot at the 2021Sun 'n Fun in Lakeland, Florida. The video showcases the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team, a team of four flying beautifully restored North American AT-6 "Texans", an aircraft dating back to the late 1930s used to train World War II military pilots. I had a lot of fun watching this 10 minute video of the Aeroshell Team twilight aerobatic show. Watch for the crescent moon at about 6:50 and 8:20. Enjoy!

Direct link to video by AirShowStuffVideos on YouTube

Friday, November 18, 2022

CH47 Chinook

Several years ago when I was still going on occasional scenic flights with a pilot friend, I have a memory of seeing a CH47 Chinook. If memory serves, my pilot friend saw it first, and then I saw it. The Chinook was probably a few miles away so it appeared to be small. However, considering that I can recall seeing small single engine aircraft from the same distance that looked like a large dot in the sky, the fact that we could recognize the Chinook said something about its size. That was the first and last time I was even close to seeing one in person, so to speak. For some reason I was thinking about this apparent sighting of a Chinook while on a scenic ride this morning and decided to focus o the CH47 Chinook today. Knowing that the CH47 is being used for wildland firefighting I wanted to devote today's post to the CH47.

The CH47 has a sixty plus year history dating back to the Vietnam War era, for specifications, history, and some photos of the CH47 go to this page from

Some CH47 Chinook's have been repurposed for use as a heavy lift helicopter that can be used in wildland firefighting and other heavy lift operations. Billings Flying Service out of Billings, Montana operates CH47 Chinooks. With a range of 360 miles, a maximum gross weight of 50,000 pounds, a maximum air speed of 140 knots and a hook that carry about the 26,000 pounds (Billing's CH47 Chinook page for this and more specifications and information about their CH47 Chinooks) they are an impressive helicopter. The Billing's CH47 Chinooks, with a tank capacity of 2,500 gallons and a bucket capacity of 2,700 gallons, are used for wildland firefighting, see Billings aerial firefighting page for more information.

In the video below from Earl Watters featuring a Billings Chinook CH47, you will see some shots of the instrument panel, shots of dipping to fill her tanks, shots from the cockpit of dropping water, and shots on the ground getting her read to fly a fire. The CH47 was working a fire near Folsom California in August 2022. Enjoy. Allow just under five minutes to watch the video.

Direct link to video from Earl Watters on YouTube

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Sikorsky S-70i Fire Hawk helicopters revisited (2 of 2)

I am following up on the post I made on November 14th about the Sikorsky S-70i Firehawk. Bill Gabbert of Fire Aviation has a list of these Fire Hawks and the agency who operates them in his March 12, 2022 article, all are operated by agencies based in California. I want to close with embedding a couple of videos of CAL FIRE's S-70i Fire Hawk.

I start with a short video by Eli Hunter of an S-70i Fire Hawk landing.

Direct link to video by Eli Hunter on YouTube

Here is a video by Firedudes of an S-70-i Fire Hawk refilling.

Direct link to video by Firedudes on YouTube

I was not able to find a short video of an S70-i Fire Hawk working a fire, but in this short video below by CAL FIRE at about 35 seconds you will see a Fire Hawk dropping on what appears to be wildfire or a controlled burn. I am sure that there are videos out there of the S70-i Fire Hawk in action over a wildfire that I was not able to find.

Direct link to video by CAL FIRE on YouTube

Monday, November 14, 2022

Sikorsky S-70i Fire Hawk helicopters revisited (1 of 2)

 I suspect that many of you, especially those of you living on the west coast of the United States know about the Sikorsky S-70i Fire Hawk helicopters. Lockheedmartin has a nice webpage about the Fire Hawk saying that the Fire Hawk starts out as a Black Hawk. This web page has a video a walk around graphic and drawings of different configurations based on how the Fire Hawk is used (firefighter transport, water drops on fires, medical transport, search and rescue and humanitarian assistance).

Not only have I seen a number of videos of the S70i Fire Hawk, Bill Gabbert of Fire Aviation has done his usual excellent job as he has written several articles on the S-70i Fire Hawk, go here to see his posts tagged as Sikorsky S-70-i. As you scroll through Bill's articles you will see reporting on agency purchases of the S-70i (see for example his May 2022 article on the delivery of a Fire Hawk to CAL Fire in Prado CA and his November 2022 article about Orange County California's purchase of two Fire Hawks) and an excellent article from March 12 2022 about the agreement between Sikorsky and United Rotor for the production of the Fire Hawk. Bill was reporting from the 2022 HAI Heli-Expo, he says in part

This week at HAI Heli-Expo Sikorsky and United Rotorcraft signed an agreement formalizing how the two companies will collaborate to produce Firehawk helicopters. These specialized aircraft are configured to assist wildland firefighters, dropping up to 1,000 gallons of water to slow the spread of a wildfire, allowing personnel on the ground to more safely move in and suppress the fire.

Bill goes on to say that

An S-70 Blackhawk aircraft becomes a Firehawk helicopter when United Rotorcraft adds a 1,000-gallon (3,785-liter) water tank system, a raised landing gear (to accommodate the tank), and associated integrated avionics, a process that typically takes six months. United Rotorcraft has been the Firehawk completion teammate of Sikorsky since the late 1990s working closely with Sikorsky and first customer County of Los Angeles Fire Department, which today operates two S-70i and three S-70A Firehawk aircraft. Other operators include CAL FIRE and the City of San Diego Fire-Rescue.

For any of you that want to dive deep into the Sikorsky S-70i Fire Hawk, I urge you again to check out Bill Gabbert's posts on the Sikorsky S-70-i  as well his posts tagged Firehawk on his Fire Aviation site.

Finally, I leave you with two videos from Vertical Magazine from 2020. I first embedded these two videos in my June 19, 2020 post, I think they are worth seeing again so I am embedding them here for your convenience.

S-70i Fire Hawk avionics

Direct link to video from Vertical Magazine on YouTube

S-70i Fire Hawk walk around

Direct link to video from Vertical Magazine on YouTube