Friday, December 30, 2016

Air Tankers and Helos fighting wildfires: private citizen's perspective

Wildland firefighters whether in the air or on the ground do what they do to keep us safe. As you no doubt know, wildfires often occur close to or within the sight line of people's residences. Here are a couple of videos of aerial firefighting shot by private citizens from their property.

The first video was shot in August 2011 of aerial operations over the Warm Springs Fire in Wyoming. I am struck by the commentary of the videographer as she watched the aircraft (two of Neptune's P2-V tankers (10 and 44), a lead plane, and a helo with a bucket working the wildfire near her home. As I was watching the video, I sensed her gratitude. And at the end of the video she expresses her gratitude to the wildland firefighters in the air and on the ground who fought the wildfire. No homes were lost. Read the about this video comments here and click on show more. She thanks the local firefighters from Dubois Wyoming as well as all the non-local ground crews for their work in saving homes. Allow about six minutes to watch the video

Direct link to video

The second video was probably shot early on during the 2013 Rim Fire in California. Much of the video was shot by a homeowner from his roof. At the time the video was shot the Rim Fire had burned about 125,000 acres and was at 5% containment.  The Rim Fire ultimately burned over 257,000 acres in Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park and was fully contained in mid to late October 2013. I caution readers that you will some profanity early in the video and again towards the end, what I take to be an expression of awe as they watch the DC-10 tanker working the fire.

Direct link to video

I made several posts on the subject of the Rim Fire which you may access here (with the most recent post on the top).

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Air Tankers on display at Avalon, Australia (2015)

Continuing to share some videos of Air Tankers during this holiday week. Here is a six minute video from the 2015 Avalon Australia Airshow. Among the aircraft you will see  are Coulson's Lockheed 130Q Hercules, Tanker 131,  (N130FF); and Conair's RJ-85 Tanker, Tanker 162), (N355AC).

Direct link to video

Monday, December 26, 2016

Air Tankers working wildfire in Canada (2015 season)

I am always on the prowl for interesting videos to embed and share with you, especially of Air Tankers and Helicopters working wildfires.

In the video that I am embedding below among the aircraft that you will see are: Lockheed L-188 Electra (Air Spray), Twin Commander 690 Birddog (Air Spray), Cessna Caravan Birddog, Air Tractor 802 Amphibious SEAT (Conair), and an Aerospatiale AS 350 B-2 Helicopter (see the information from HD Aviation who uploaded the video, here (and click on show more under the video description) for more information on the video.

Direct link to video

Friday, December 23, 2016

Happy Holidays - The Shepard

I have a tradition of sharing The Shepard by Frederick Forsyth, read by Alan Maitland from CBC every year around the holidays. I wish all of you a Happy Holiday season and a Happy, Healthy, and Peaceful New Years. For some of you wildland firefighters who may be working or on call during this holiday season your service is appreciated, stay safe!

Direct link to video

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

GOES 13-15 (N,O,P) or earlier: visible, infrared, and water vapor imagery

Some of you may recall that on December 14th I wrote a little about GOES 13-15 (GOES N,O,P) series. At the time I am writing this, GOES-13 is currently operating as GOES East at 75 degrees west longitude and GOES-15 is currently operating as GOES West at 135 degrees west longitude. GOES-14 is in on orbit storage at 105 degrees west longitude.

I have been spending some time prowling NOAA and NASA websites and Youtube to look for some videos to share with you of visible, infrared and water vapor from GOES. Before I do so, I found another good NOAA website showing current imagery from GOES East and GOES west. The website is satellite Images from the NWS. I like this website. On the right you will see these current images: visible, infrared, and water vapor. Clicking on the image takes that image to the center of the webpage where you will a short description of how to read the imagery, that is what the different colors mean. You also have the option of seeing a single image or a loop. If you are so inclined, you might want to spend a little time on that website before looking at the videos.

The NASA Earth Sciences Office has a webpage with current interactive GOES imagery, if you go to their page of current infrared imagery for GOES East, you will see a labeled scale describing the color imagery (the same scale is on the page for GOES West).

My intention and hope here is to embed one video each of visible, infrared, and water vapor imagery from GOES 13-15 or their predecessors. In order to try to keep things simple, I have tried to steer away from the many videos I found combining visible and infrared imagery. 

GOES East (GOES-12) visible imagery of Hurricane Katrina (uploaded by NOAA Satellites) making landfall on the gulf coast on August 29, 2005.

GOES-13 infrared imagery of the beginnings of Hurricane Patricia in the Pacific in late October 2015. The video is uploaded by the CIMSS Satellite Blog from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Space Science and Engineering Center.  There are date and time stamps at the bottom of the video (you might have to be in full screen mode) along with information about the satellite. There is also a date and time stamp in the upper left.

GOES East water vapor imagery over Eastern US for the month of January 2016 in a loop of about 2 minutes, uploaded by NOAA Geostationary Satellites. At the bottom of the video (you might have to be in full screen mode) you will see the date and time stamp of the images along with information about the satellite.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Bushfire season in Australia - New South Wales

As we head into the holidays at the end of 2017 and then the New Year (just two weeks away), I find myself thinking that it is summer in Australia and that means bush fire season. Perhaps because I have a couple of contacts in New South Wales in Australia, I was wondering what is going in New South Wales. The bush fire agency in New South Wales, NSW Rural Fire Service has a nice webpage chock full of good links with a map of bush fire activity at the top of their entry page. The NSW Rural Fire Service has a nice Facebook page where they post videos, photos, and of course, information about bush fires. For those of you who prefer Twitter, the NSW Rural Fire Service Twitter page may be found here.

I knew from following Bill Gabbert's Fire Aviation that one of 10 Tanker Carrier's DC-10's (T-910 aka Southern Belle) and a Coulson C-130 (T-132, aka Thor) are under contract to New South Wales for their summer bush fire season. As I understand it, air tankers in Australia are considered a national resource and shared across Australian States as needed during bush fire season. Which probably explains why Coulson's T-132 was in Avalon, Victoria (Australia) when Coulson's T-131 (known as bomber 390) arrived in Avalon last week to start a contract in Victoria.

Fire Aviation posts on New South Wales (good videos and photos)

Here are two Youtube videos of bush fire activity in New South Wales, both taken in late 2016.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Intro to using hand tools to fight wildfires in Tennessee

On a day when I am feeling slightly under the weather while at the same time looking for something interesting and relevant to post, I found this video (2009) from the Tennessee Division of Forestry on how hand tools are used by wildland firefighters to fight wildfires in Tennessee. While there may be some variation in how wildland firefighters fight wildfires, I think that the what you will learn in this video has applicability no matter where you are. You will learn about what the light weight flame retardant clothing and footgear that the wildland firefighters wear, hand tools, and strategies for safely fighting wildfires with hand tools, along with how wildland firefighters stay safe.

Tennessee has some steep slopes as do other parts of the U.S. on both coasts. You will learn a little about fighting wildfires on steep slopes

Perhaps I have shared this same video earlier on my blog, if so then I think it bears repeating.

Direct link to video from the Tennessee Division of Forestry

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A little about GOES 13-15 (GOES N,O,P) series

I don’t know about you, but knowing that GOES-R/16 has been launched, is in geostationary orbit and soon to be ready for operational testing got me interested in what the GOES N,O,P (13-15) series of satellites do. I posted some information on the launch dates and status of GOES 13-15 on November 30th. To briefly review:

GOES-13 is currently operating as GOES East at 75 degrees West longitude
GOES-14 is currently located at 105 degrees west longitude. She is an on-orbit spare.
GOES-15 is currently operating as GOES West at 135 degrees west longitude.

I spent some time doing research on the internet and found some pages from NOAA and NASA that are listed as no longer being updated and are “archived” with perhaps outdate links. I have tried to only link to NOAA pages on the GOES N,O,P series that either are not archived or appear to be updated on a regular basis.

The United States has two Geostationary Environmental Satellites that are active and supplying data, GOES East (currently GOES-13) and GOES West (currently GOES -15). The European Organisation for the Exploitation of meteorological Satellites (EUMETSTAT) have two geostationary satellites, one over the Indian Ocean the second over Western Africa. The Japan Meteorological Agency operates one geostationary satellite over the Western Pacific. All in all five geostationary satellites, and by international agreement, they assist all countries. (, accessed on December 8, 2016 )

Instruments on GOES N,O,P series - GOES 13-15 (I found most, if not all of the information on the instruments on the GOES N,O,P along with other background information in the GOES-N Mission Brochure (covers GOES N,O,P); accessed via GOES-N Status on December 8, 2016)

Imager: The imager supplies continuous data over five channels. Earth images produced by GOES East (GOES 13) and GOES West (GOES 15) include images of the surface, oceans, severe storm development, cloud cover, cloud temperature and height, surface temperature and water vapor. “It allows users to identify fog at night, distinguish between water and ice clouds during daytime hours, detect hot spots (such as volcanoes and forest fires), locate a hurricane eye, and acquire measurements of ground and sea surface temperatures (GOES-N Mission Brochure (covers GOES N,O,P), p. 10; accessed via GOES-N Status on December 8, 2016).  

Operational Meteorologists from the National Weather Service and elsewhere are heavy users of this image data. You have probably seen images from either GOES East or GOES West on weather broadcasts.

GOES East and GOES West produce three different types of images: visible light, infrared and water vapor. The National Weather Service’s JetStream online weather education pages has a nice discussion of geostationary satellite images where you may learn a little about each type of image along with some sample images.

Combined visible and infrared imagery, colorized infrared imagery, and water vapor imagery may be accessed from NOAA Satellite and Information Service - imagery and data page. Note that other satellite imagery is also available on this page.

Sounder: The sounder is a separate piece of equipment on the GOES with limited sounding capabilities. The sounder provides temperature and moisture data at various levels in the atmosphere, somewhat like weather balloons, but not as detailed. Although this sounder data is not used directly by forecasters, it is important for input into computer-based weather prediction models. As I write this, the GOES East (GOES-13) sounder is not operational.

Space: There are three instruments on GOES 13-15 that provide data on space weather, including but not limited to solar weather. This data is eventually fed to NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center who in turns feeds information, advisories and warnings on space weather to local NWS Weather Forecast Offices (e.g. when flares from our sun might reach earth and possibly cause geomagnetic disturbances such as auroras, possible communication and electrical disruption.

I’d like to thank a couple of friends who are operational meteorologists at the National Weather Service for their help as I learned about GOES 13-15. This article is possible because of your e-mails and telephone conversations. Thank-you!

Over the next few months, I will be keeping an eye out for interesting images and other data from GOES East and GOES West as well as following the operational testing, as I can, of GOES-R/16. As appropriate, write more articles. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

A little about Los Padres Engine 47 2016 Fire Season

As my regular readers know, I love watching various crew video's highlighting their wildfire season. Just today, and thanks (again) to my friends at NJFFS Section B-10 Fire Video Page, I was introduced to Engine 47 from Los Padres in the form of their video highlighting their 2016 fire season.

I know enough to know that Engines and their crew do important work in fighting wildland fires. And I know that the crew of Engine 47 from Los Padres do  important work in Los Padres (Los Padres National Forest in California).

I love watching the shots of airtankers and helos working wildfires, a shot of one of the DC-10 tankers on a ramp, the crew having fun, crew taking a well deserved rest, some nice sunset shots, smoke plume shots, shots from camp, shots of the crew, and of course shots from the fire line.

Direct link to video

Thank-you crew of Engine 47. Thanks for keeping us safe, stay safe. If you get some time off this winter, enjoy the time off with your friends and families.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Eastern New York 2016 Wildfire Season

Some of you may recall that I was following the Sam's Point Fire that ultimately burned 2,028 acres in Ulster County, NY before being contained on April 29th. I wrote about this wildfire in posts on April 26, April 27th, April 28th, and May 2nd.

Just today I ran across a nice video posted by NYFFT1 with images and videos from their 2016 wildfire season, including images from the Sam's Point Fire, and some prescribed burns in the Albany NY Pine Bush Preserve, and the Sherwood Wildfire

Nice work NYFFT1, looking forward to more videos from you.

Direct link to video

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

December 7, 1941 - A day that will live in infamy

It was a nice day for flying and general aviation pilots were out early on a Sunday morning to get some flying in before the winds kicked in later in the day. The date was December 7, 1941. The place was Oahu Island, Hawaii. The planes were Piper Cubs, and Aeronca aircraft.

Pilots flying aircraft such as Piper Cubs and Aeroncas were among the first to be killed when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December 7th. Two soldiers -- Sgt. Henry J. Blackwell and Cpl. Clyde C Brown, who had recently learned to fly from Robert Tyce had rented two Piper Cubs and with one passenger, Sgt Warren D. Rassmussen, prepared for a sight seeing trip. Blackwell and Brown were a part of the Civilian Civilian Flight Training Program to teach college students how to fly. Brown and Blackwell were hoping that there time in the CFTP would mean that they could be military aviators. Tyce along with his wife Edna, were there to watch Robert's former students take off, they never made it back. Japanese fighters shot down the two Cubs. Meanwhile, Robert Tyce was fatally wounded when he was hit in the head by straffing from a Japanese fighter.

Other pilots of general aviation aircraft that morning were more lucky, they encountered Japanese fighters and survived. As did the pilot, crew, and passengers of a Pan American Clipper. The pilot heard the attack on his radio and diverted to another airport.

So on this, the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, I want to pause and remember Blackwell, Brown, and Tyce who died that morning. I want to remember the 68 civilians who died.

All in all, 2,403 Americans died in Pearl Harbor that day. I will always remember.

For more information:

Civilian Pilots Under Fire at Pearl Harbor (AOPA, December 7, 2016), by Jim Moore, accessed on December 7, 2016 from Note I am not sure how long this particular link will work.

First Planes Down at Pearl, Aviation History Magazine by Stephen Harding (November 4, 2013), accessed on December 7, 2016 from

Monday, December 05, 2016

Chimney2Fire (Gaitlinburg TN) - December 5th update

Footage from the air and on the ground of damage caused by the Chimney2Fire, shot on November 29 by 1st Lt. Michael Donovan of the Tennessee National Guard.

Direct link to video

The latest information on the Chimney2Fire, 14 dead (see this December 4th joint news release from Sevier County, City of Gaitlinburg, Tennessee Emergency Mangement, and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park for more information) and over 700 structures confirmed to be lost. The tally of destroyed and damaged structures is 1,684. The wildfire has burned 17,006 acres and is at 42 percent containment. The acreage of the Chimney2Fire was reduced to account for the nearby Cobbly Knob Fires that has burned 803 acres and is at 53 percent containment.

My thoughts and prayers are with all those who lost loved ones from these wildfires and with all those who lost their homes.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Chimney2Fire (TN) - some info and reflections

I have never been to the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina, I am hoping that one day in the not to distant future that I will get a chance to visit this special place. It is somewhat hard hard to explain how I grew to love and feel an attachment for the Smokies. Over 20 years ago I had done some reading and research on the Smokies for a project that I was involved with at the time. Perhaps it is time for me to revisit those books and my notes from that project.

Any wildfire that takes lives and leaves destroys residences and other buildings is sad. Like many of you, I have been hearing about the wildfire known as the Chimney2fire on various news outlets. I knew that I had to write something about the Chimney2fire because the place is special to me. 

The Chimney2fire was first reported on November 23rd in a remote section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This area has steep terrain with vertical cliffs that challenged wildland firefighting efforts. As some of you know, this region has seen severe drought conditions for awhile now, and these drought conditions coupled with high winds resulted in rapid growth of this fire on November 27th. The fire has burned 17,859 acres to date and there is no containment.

The city of Gatlinburg Tennessee lies in the middle of this wildland fire perimeter. As I write this, there are 7 deaths from the wildfire. Seven hundred structures are confirmed to be loss. There are reports of missing persons in the Gatlinburg area and environs and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has established a hotline (see this news report for more information) to investigate reports of missing persons. Evacuations remain in place for Gatlinburg.

I just read the December 1st morning report from the Southern Area Coordination Center (Morning Reports are updated daily during fire season). As of December 1st there were crews, wildfire suppression modules from: Alaska, South Dakota, Utah.Montana, California, Oregon, Arizona (some States sending multiple crews). There are a lot of aviation resources available in the southern region, including air attack platforms, aerial supervision modules, type 1 air tankers (T-40, T-10, T-131, T-162), two Scoopers (S-262, S-263), 8 SEATS, and a large number of helicopters of various sizes. There are a total of 18 uncontained large wildfires in the southern region according to the December 1st morning report that have burned 143, 973 acres. So I am certain that some of these aviation resources are supporting other wildfires in the south. However, some of these aviation resources are working the Chimney2fire.

As for rainfall, yes there was rain that fell in the area of the Chimney2fire earlier this week, and this rainfall did help in suppression efforts. But per a December 1st news release on the Chimney2fire :
Although Sevier County received significant amounts of moisture yesterday, more will be needed. “We had really good rain, but not enough to make up the deficit. Don’t let this rain give you a false sense of security.” Michael Proud, Incident Meteorologist, warned. Warmer weather, wind and decreased humidity will increase fire activity during the peak of the day. “The fire is not out, it is just knocked down.” Mark Jamieson, Operations Section Chief, stated
My thoughts and prayers are with the citizens of Gaitlinbug and environs. I’d like to thank all the wildland firefighters from Tennessee and adjoining states as well as those from across the country who are working this wildfires. Stay safe.

Some of you may want to read more about the efforts being made to fight the Chimney2fire. Bill Gabbert of Wildfire Today  has been doing a very good job reporting on this fire, and you may access Bill's articles through this link which will lead you to articles tagged with Chimney2fire.