Friday, September 20, 2019

Climate Strike Day: some words from Greta Thunberg

Today is climate strike day and in honor of all the climate strikes going on around the world, I am suspending my normal blog and asking you to reflect on the words of Greta Thunberg, a sixteen year old activist from Sweden. But before you do, please, please do check award winning cartoonist Bill Day's cartoon that I will call "is this anyway to treat to your mother." I first came across an early version of this cartoon over 25 years ago. I still have the dog eared cartoon in my home office. It always brings tears to my eyes.

Direct link to video of Greta Thunberg's TED talk on youtube

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

A closer look at Cal Fire's aviation program

I am a non-pilot member of the AOPA. Actually the AOPA makes no distinction between pilots and non-pilot's in their fee structure but for purposes of this blog it is important that I be clear that I am a non-pilot aviation enthusiast. The AOPA puts out a weekly video called AOPA Live, an interesting video about 25 to 30 minutes long with weekly aviation news. They do not only focus on general aviation as is evident by The AOPA Live episode on May 23, 2019. In that week's episode that had a report on CAL Fire's aviation program. Because the video was about 27 minutes long, I did not share it here. I recently found the clip devoted to Cal Fire's aviation program so I am sharing it here, a direct link to the clip from AOPA Live may be found here. AOPA Live has a youtube channel where I also found the video, and I am embedding that video below.

I like this video because you will hear from a S2-T pilot, Jimmy Ferriera about what is like to fly fires in an S2T. You will also learn about the Cal Fire program. While there are going to be differences between Cal Fire's S2T's and other tankers, Jimmy does give me an idea of what it is like to fly fires. Enjoy!

Thank-you Jimmy and stay safe.

Other links:
Cal Fire home page
Cal Fire Air Program
S2-T Air Tanker (pdf)
California Pilot's Association
California Pilot's Association Newsletters

Monday, September 16, 2019

A look at the life of a fire lookout

direct link to video on Youtube

Fire towers and their lookouts are a vanishing breed, as regular readers know we have a fire towers around New Jersey. A September 15th article on NPR by Nathan Rott, "A Fire Lookout On What's Lost in a Transition to Technology" caught my eye this morning. The article is about Phillip Connors who has been a fire lookout in the Gila National Forest for 17 summers. Phillip is also an author, having written three books, two of them based on his experiences as a fire lookout. I just got his first book, Fire Season, and look forward to reading it.

Gila National Forest has ten fire lookouts. Hikers who pass his way often ask him about satellites and drones, this is how he responded to that question in Rott's article.
'I often feel I'm in a position of having to defend my very existence here,' he says. 'People just sort of assume that the technology has advanced to a point where it would make me totally obsolete' 
There are, he says, many things he can do that a drone can't. He can sit in a tower for an entire day, watching and studying a fire's behavior. He can serve as eyes and as a communication link for fire crews working in the region's rugged terrain. He can apply his experience to put a fire in context and communicate about it in ways only a human can. 
'At $14 and change an hour, I'm also pretty cheap,'  he says.
In addition to getting to know Connor, you will also learn a little about the history of fire towers. I encourage you to spend a few minutes reading the article, there are some very nice images in the article, including some historic photos.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Relief efforts continue to the Bahamas post Hurricane Dorian

I continue to reflect upon the devastation left by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. I am especially interested in the use of aviation assets to bring relief into the Bahamas. I will share four videos that I found on Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS) about Hurricane Dorian Response.

US Navy MH-53 delivers supplies to the Bahamas

US Army CH-47 Chinook transports vehicles and supplies to US Aide Workers 

US Navy Sailors aboard a CH-53 Sea Stallion helping with Dorian relief in the Bahamas

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Remembering 9/11

Eighteen years ago, I was in my office in central New Jersey when the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon occurred. All of us who were old enough to remember will always remember where we were and what we were doing when the attacks occurred. I, like many others, were at work. At the time, I worked in central New Jersey. I could swear that I saw a couple of fighter jets overhead. We all have memories of that day, mine are probably not much different from yours, although geography may make a difference.

I ask you to join me in a moment of silent remembrance for those who died in the attacks on September 11, 2001. Let us also remember all the first responders who died later as well as those who are suffering severe physical and emotional trauma. Finally, there are those either lived or worked in Manhattan or Washington who survived the attacks yet may hold some emotional scars.

Direct link to video

Monday, September 09, 2019

2019 wildfire season: IMET deployments (Sept 9th)

The deployment of NWS Incident Meteorologists (IMETs) have seen an uptick the last couple of weeks. When deployed to a wildfire, for up to two weeks, IMETs used good science to provide forecasts for the area burned by the wildfire and environs. As required, they will launch weather balloons (see the August 1st post by the NWS IMETs) on their Facebook page to watch a nice video of a balloon launch). Theu bring all the weather equipment they need to provide the latest forecasts. They do this to so that wildland firefighters and their support teams will be as safe as possible as they fight wildfires. IMETs are a national resources. While many but not all IMET deployments are in the western U.S. or in Alaska, if called upon they will come to your state to work a wildfire, IMETs have your back. For example, IMETs have been deployed to east coast states in recent years. Finally if you look at the information below the size of the wildfire varies from less than 500 acres to more than 160,000 acres.

Here are the IMET deployments since September 2 from the US National Weather Service IMET Facebook Page.

IMETs save lives. For all my IMET friends, stay safe and thank-you for providing good science.

Friday, September 06, 2019

U.S. Coast Guard responds to Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian

I am sure that most of you know that Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas last weekend as a category 5 hurricane with winds up to 185 miles per hour. Dorian stalled over parts of the Bahamas for at least a day and a half before making its way up the east coast.

My purpose here and perhaps in subsequent posts on the devastation to the Bahamas from Hurricane Dorian is to focus on the use aviation assets to respond to the Bahamas. Yesterday )September 5th) while I was doing some errands, I heard an interview on NPR with Coast Guard Vice Adm. Scott Buschman about the Coast Guard's response in the Bahamas. I was not able to hear the entire interview, but I did find a link to a segment on NPR's All Things Considered, Thursday September 5th. I am embedding a link to this segment below. For those who prefer to go directly to the NPR All Things Considered Segment that may be found here.

According to Vice Admiral Buschman,
we have eight helicopters flying from the Coast Guard, two flying from the DEA, two flying from Customs and Border Protection. We also have a number of fixed-wing aircraft that were doing some aerial reconnaissance to see what the impacted areas look like. And as of today, we actually have three Coast Guard ships there. They're helping out. They're serving as support cutters for our aircraft so the aircraft can land there and fuel. And they're doing a number of things. They're sending their boats ashore to do some assessments from land.
In the video that I embedded below (here is a direct link to the video from DVIDS), you will hear Petty Officer 3rd Class Jhonkirc, member assisting in the Hurricane Dorian relief efforts being interviewed about thee actual situation on the Abaco area Sept. 5, 2019. The Coast Guard is supporting the Bahamian National Emergency Management Agency and the Royal Bahamian Defense Force, who are leading search and rescue efforts in the Bahamas. The video is by Seaman Erik Villa Rodriguez.

In the next video you will see a Coast Guard crew being welcomed home at Air Station Clearwater. This crew was the first Coast Guard crew to be deployed to the Bahamas to aid in disaster relief in the Bahamas. Video by Petty Officer 2nd Class David Micallef. Go here for the direct link to the video from DVIDS

Finally, I am sharing a brief video report from ABC News about disaster relief in the Bahamas. ABC News sent a reporter and cameraperson who rode along on a flight by Trinity Air Ambulance to Freeport, Grand Bahama. You will see some footage from the first video.

Direct link to video from ABC News

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Scoopers in Spain (2012)

I got sucked into taking care of some important but unexpected personal business that took all day. Literally.. Just done now at a little after 5 pm.

So I am sharing an old favorite video from El Grupo (2012).Enjoy

Direct link to video

Monday, September 02, 2019

Labor Day 2019

I am taking a day off from my labors on this Labor Day in the United States. Having said that, I want to remember all the first responders including but not limited to wildland firefighters for either working today or being on call. Thanks all for all you do to keep us safe.

I would also like to thank all my friends at the various National Weather Service office for working today to keep us safe, especially those putting in extra time  because of Hurricane Dorian.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Hurricane Hunter Aircraft flying into Hurricane Dorian

As many of you know, Hurricane Dorian is gaining strength off of the coast of the United States. My purpose today is to write about the hurricane hunter aircraft flying into Hurricane Dorian, but first a few preliminaries. The image below is from the National Hurricane Center's web page, under the section for Hurricane Dorian. The National Hurricane Center (go here for their Facebook Page) is a good source of information about Hurricanes, but they do not provide location specific information. If you or a loved one lives in or near an area within striking distance of hurricane, you may go to the National Weather Service where you will see a map  of the United states, click on the area you are interested in. You will then be taken to the local National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office for your region (and check their social media accounts as well), and you will be able to get location specific hurricane advisories, watches and warnings.

Hurricane hunter aircraft may be from NOAA, see the NOAA Hurricane Hunter Facebook Page or from the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron of the 403rd Wing (Air Force Reserve). The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron has a nice facebook page: U.S. Air Force Reserve 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron Hurricane Hunters. These hurricane hunters fly into hurricanes including multiple flights into the eye to provide crucial data that is then used by weather forecasting models, including those from the National Hurricane Center, for hurricane forecasts issued by the National Hurricane Center.

If you want to know about current and upcoming missions of either the NOAA or the 53rd Squadron's hurricane hunters, go to the webpage for aerial reconnaissance in the North Atlantic Basin, you will find information about reconnaissance mapping on that webpage (Google Earth requires downloading a KMZ file and Cesium does not appear to work in Firefox).

I was thrilled to see that the NOAA Hurricane Hunters has an all female  three-pilot flight crew. This all female crew flies the Gulfstrean IV-SP, NOAA 49 "Gonzo" : Capt. Kristie Twining, Cmdr. Rebecca Waddington, and Lt. Lindsey Norman.

Here are some short videos shared by the NOAA Hurricane Hunters on their Facebook page:
Here some nice Facebook posts from the U.S. Air Force Reserve 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron:

In the first video from ABC Action News (serving Polk County Florida and environs) you will see one of NOAA's hurricane hunters taking off on a mission. This video was uploaded on August 29th.

The second video (just over four minutes) is from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum with highlights of a hurricane hunter from the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron flight, uploaded in April 2019. The video appears to be taken on a flight into Hurricane Florence in September 2018.