Friday, April 28, 2017

Florida Wildfires - April 28th

Florida continues to have a very active 2017 wildfire season as you can see from the following article from the Florida Forestry Service. I know that the Florida wildland firefighters have been working hard to protect the folk in Florida.

As I write the Florida Forest Service has a map of currently burning wildfires (as of April 28th) that I am sharing below. The information on the Florida Forest Service Wildland Fire Current Wildfire Page changes frequently, but if you are reading this article today you will see that they have several maps of individual wildfires.
obtained on April 28, 2017 from

Here are forecast fire danger indices from the Florida Forest Service.

Finally Florida County level burn bans.

Here are a couple of videos, thanks to my friends at the B10 NJ Wildland Fire Page for the links to these two videos. These videos reflect wildfire activity about a week ago. I am not sure what the current conditions are.

Collier County FL, Golden Gates Estates (video uploaded on April 21st)

Direct link to video on Youtube

Polk County, FL (video uploaded on April 21st)

Direct link to video 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

New Jersey Forest Fire Service Aircraft (2017)

This article is possibly because of a document written and update periodically by John H. Rieth, New Jersey Forest Fire Service (NJFFS) Apparatus Roster and Guide (last updated January 2016) that I found on the B10 NJ Widland Fire Crew Info Page on April 26, 2017. I am going to list the aircraft operated by the New Jersey Forest Fire Service for wildland fire operations. Direct link to NJFFS Apparatus Roster and Guide (by John H. Rieth, last updated January 2016) may be found here.

All state operated helicopters are currently owned by the US Forest Service. They were obtained through the Federal Excess Property Program (FEPP). These six helicopters are:

  • Delta 1: 1953 Bell 47G2, 75 gallon bambi bucket
  • Delta 2:  1975 Bell Jet 206B Het Ranger, 100 gallon bucket
  • Delta 3 1969 Bell 206A/B Jet Ranger
  • Delta 5a: 1966 UH-1H Huey, 300 gallon bucket
  • Delta 6: 1966 UH-1H Huey, 300 gallon bucket
  • Delta 7: 1974 UH-1H Huey, 300 gallon bucket

Three fixed wing aircraft are currently operated by the NJFFS for detection, observation, and command operations.

  • Delta 10: 1986 Cessna 206 (five seat)
  • Delta 15: 1966 Cessna 182 (four seat)
  • Delta 16: 1963 Super Cub (two seat)

According to Rieth, the main air base for the NJFFS is Coyle Field (Woodland Township, Burlington County). The NJFFS also operates out of Andover Aeroflex, in Andover NJ (Sussex County).

As I write this in 2017, the air bases used by the NJFFS for 2017 SEAT operations are located at Downstown Aero in Vineland, NJ (Cumberland County) and Miller Field in Berkeley Township (Ocean County). Downstown is the SEAT air base in NJFFS Division C for 2017. I understand that the SEAT assigned to Division B is based out of Miller Air Park for 2017. For more information on 2017 NJFFS SEAT contracts see my April 7, 2017 article. If you are accessing this article after 2017, NJFFS SEAT bases may not be different.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Amazing video of the night sky from a commercial jet

I interrupt our regularly scheduled blogging to share a stunning video that just came across my desk today courtesy of the AOPA who shared this article and video from Elsewhere Nine. This a video shot by one of the pilots (Sales Wick) of a commercial airliner on a night flight from Europe to Sao Paolo in South America. Some of you may know that I love the stars and this video offers me a view that I have never seen. Sure, I have been fortunate to see the dark night sky from rural New. England. But this video is stunning. Sales Wick shared the video in an accompanying post here.

Enjoy, this is a keeper. Thanks so much Sales Wick!

FlightLapse #01 - MilkyWay from SkyProduction on Vimeo.

Friday, April 21, 2017

About SEATs working wildfires -- SEAT Pilots and SEAT Manager (Lakeview Tanker Base OR) - 2014

I am frequently on the prowl for interesting videos to share with you. I found one today that I don't think that I have shared here previously. That is, a 2014 video from the Lakeview County Examiner (Oregon) where you here two SEAT pilots (Jodi Pillatzki and Danny Mosely) and Vicki Baker (Single Engine Air Tanker Manager of Lakeview Interagency Helitack and Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT) base talk about how SEATs work wildfires in support of the firefighters on the ground. SEAT pilots Pillatzki and Mosely) were based at Lakeview Tanker Base at the time this video was shot on August 8, 2014.

Allow about eight minutes to watch the video.

Direct link to video from the Lake County Examiner

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Some recent wildfire activity in New Jersey (April 14th to 17th)

I was listening to Radio Feed from the New Jersey Forest Fire Service, Division A (link to NJFFS Division A Radio Feed) this past Monday when I heard of wildfire activity in Ramapo (Bergen County, NJ not far from the New York State line). I freely admit that I was multi-tasking so was not following closely. But I knew enough to know that there was a wildfire of some sort in Ramapo on Monday, April 17th.

Knowing that Ramapo is in the response area of NJ Forest Fire Service (NJFFS) Section A2, I went to the NJFFS A2 Firefighters Association Facebook page later that same afternoon and saw the following post (April 17th at 5:22 PM), embedded below. Their Facebook posted answered my questions about the location (Ramapo Reservation near Mahwah, NJ) and that a helicopter with a bucket was requested.

Monday evening a friend of mine sent me a link to a short article about the wildfire in Ramapo Reservation to share with you, from the Mahwah Daily Voice (April 17th), confirming that one of the NJFFS Huey Helicopaters (Delta 7) with a bucket worked the fire, which was then reported at about three to five acres in size.

By late Tuesday afternoon, April 18th, a post on the NJFFS A2 Firefighters Association Facebook Page (embedded below) reported that NJFFS A2 crews were working on mop-up, reinforcing lines, and patrol. The fire was mapped at 12.5 acres.

Thanks to my friends from B10 NJ Wildland Fire for bringing the following video to my attention so that I may share it with you. You will see NJFFS Huey Delta 7 working the Ramapo Reservation Wildfire on April 17th, video from Mahwah Fire Rescue.

Direct link to video from Mahwah Fire Rescue

While I was on the NJFFS A2 Firefighters Association Facebook Page, I learned that NJFFS A2 wildfire crews worked a smaller wildfire on Friday April 14th and Saturday, April 15th (post embedded below), the Chickadee Fire burned about five acres near Upper Greenwood Lake in Passaic County.

These wildfires are representative of some of the wildfires that have burned in New Jersey the last couple of weeks. I know that there are more wildfires that have burned across New Jersey but have no list of such wildfires to share with you. I don't know of any major wildfires in New Jersey (100 acres or more) over the last 10 to 14 days, but I could be wrong.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Still more SEATs

For those of you who pay attention to such things, I am sharing two videos of SEATs in action, both dating from 2012. And both have been shared on this blog about 4 and one-half years ago. I was recently reminded of one of these videos, and I thought that they were both worth sharing again. Enjoy!
direct link to video on youtube

direct link to video on youtube

Friday, April 14, 2017

Tankers on federal contract in 2017 (U.S.)

I suspect that many of you already follow Bill Gabbert's wonderful blogs, Wildfire Today and Fire Aviation, so you may already know that among the issues Bill writes about is Air Tankers and Helicopters on fire contracts in the United States along with Tanker Operators plans to convert aircraft to tanker configuration. In today's article I am going to summarize some of his recent articles (with links) and urge you to go read his Fire Aviation blog for more information. Thank-you Bill for your hard work in researching and then writing these articles. You will want to follow Bill Gabbert's Fire Aviation to keep abreast of any future developments

Those of you who followed the March wildfire outbreaks in Colorado and the Plains probably know that the USFS activated three of Neptune Aviations BAe-146 air tankers (tankers 02, 03, and 12), Bill wrote about this in a March 11th article on Fire Aviation.

Bill Gabbert talks about Tanker Operators plans to convert more aircraft to tanker configuration. His article on March 30th is a good read about Neptune’s BAe-146 and its sister Avro RJ85 (Conair/Aeroflite). He discusses Neptune's and Conair/Aeroflite’s plans to convert aircraft to firefighting configuration and contracts. Note that he says that Neptune will have one BAe-146 on contract with CAL FIRE this year.

Gabbert continues his good reporting in an April 10th Fire Aviation article where he reports on Coulson’s third tanker, T-133 that was nearing completion as he wrote the article. The is Coulson's second L-382G, the 3822G is the civilian version of the military C-130. He also provides on update on Airspray’s conversion of their first BAe-146 and their plans for more conversions.

Large Air Tanker Contracts (see Bill Gabbert's March 10th Fire Aviation article (with updates)

Bill writes about large tankers on exclusive use contract:

  • 10 Tanker: two DC-10s
  • Aero Air LLC: two MD-87s (see Bills article for an update on the MD-7s and the plans of Aero Air to have more MD-87s available later this year hopefully for a CWN contract.
  • Aero Flite Inc: four RJ 85s
  • Coulson Aircrane one C-130Q
  • Neptune Aviation: four P2-Vs and seven BAe-146’s

And tankers on call when needed contracts:

  • 10 Tanker: 1 DC-10
  • Aero Flite: (3 Avro RJ 85’s)
  • Coulson (1 L-382g)

See Gabbert's March 10th article for a complete list by contractor, tanker number and tail number. Bill also has a discussion about the transfer of seven HC-130H aircraft from the US Coast Guard to the USFS  and the conversion. One of the HC-130H (T-116) with a MAFFS unit will be available in 2017.

Finally Bill Gabbert writes on the reduction of the number of type 1 helicopters on federal contracts in 2017, Columbia Helicopters conversion of two of their CH-47d helicopters to use 2,800 internal tanks  and SEAT contracts for 2017.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

15-acre wildfire in Norvin Green State Forest, NJ (contained)

I got wind of a wildfire in a remote section of Novin Green State Forest thanks to Mike Archer's Wildfire News of the Day for April 11th, thanks Mike! Mike Archer linked to a short article from North Record (April 11th). This wildfire was in "rugged terrain",  an air tanker and a helicopter with a bucket helped the wildland firefighters on the ground to fight the wildfire. The cause is unknown.

Years ago I went on a couple of day hikes in Norvin Green State Forest, so I went on Google Earth to get an image showing the approximate location of the wildfire in northern Passaic County not far from the New York State line.

Approximate location of April 11th wildfire in Norvin Green State Forest in northern New Jersey
I knew that wildland firefighters from northern New Jersey would have fought this wildfire. As luck would have it, I found a facebook post with more information from the NJFFS A2 Firefighters Association posted on April 12th. Bravo 1, an Air Tractor 802 along with Huey Delta 7 and bucket worked the wildfire. The wildfire was contained at 15 acres by the evening of April 11th. Crews from New Jersey Forest Fire Service Section A2 worked this wildfire.  Job well done everyone!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Alabama's wildfire aviation unit

I've flown enough as a knowledgeable passenger in the right side of general aviation aircraft to know that you have a birds eye view to see certain activities on the ground, including wildfires. I suspect that making good observations from an aircraft takes experience. I have always had a general knowledge that there are agencies in the U.S. and internationally that make wildfire observations from the air, but had no specific information. Or perhaps I just wasn't paying attention. But I was paying attention last week when a short video from a local news report from WKRG in Alabama.

In the video, uploaded on March 29th, you will meet the Alabama Forestry Commission's Aviation Unit. At the time of this news report there were 37 wildfires to date that had burned more than 1,300 acres in Mobile and Baldwin Counties in Southwest Alabama this spring. Over the last three months (January to March 2017) there have been some 330 burned that have burned more than 6,500 acres

The Aviation Unit has been working making observations in support of wildland firefighters on the ground. In this short video you will meet Robert Trimble who flies one of four Alabama Forestry Commission's Cessna's. In his case a Cessna 182. He is an "eye in the sky" first locating wildfires and then flying over the fire and dispatching ground crews to the wildfire. He also works to keep the ground crews safe, advising them to move to safer ground if necessary.

You will fly with the reporter Pat Peterson as he joins Trimble one day as he flies over Baldwin County in Alabama. Trimble covers 10 counties in Southwest Alabama.

Direct link to video

Friday, April 07, 2017

Spring 2017 wildfire season - SEAT contracts in New Jersey and Pennsylvannia

It is early spring in New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania and that means that the spring wildfire season is or will soon be upon us. Here in New Jersey SEATs in New Jersey Forest Fire Service Division B and Division C will go on contract on or about April 10th for a period of approximately five weeks, ending on or about May 15th. Dates are subject to change. As I write this on April 7th, much of New Jersey and adjoining areas have experienced three days of rainfall in the last week, rainfall of varying amounts. At least in my neck of the woods, the ground is somewhat saturated. But the ground can dry out quickly.

NJFFS Division B’s SEAT is an Air Tractor 802 (800 gallons). The SEAT that will be on contract in Division C is an Air Tractor 602 (600 gallons) from Downstown Aero. This will be Downstown’s  fiftieth year providing aerial fire fighting services in New Jersey.

April 10, 2017 Update: Downstown's AT-602 goes on contract April 10th. To show you how quickly things can change, there is enhanced fire danger in the southern part of NJ and eastern PA this afternoon and evening. I am not quite sure when the 802 in Division B goes on contract, when I get a date, I'll update this post.

April 26, 2017 Update: I am not quite sure when the 802 in Division B went on contract. I believe that she was on contract on or about April 17, 2017.

 obtained on April 7, 2017 from

Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, an Air Tractor 802 (800 gallons) is on contract until at least May 5th, working out of the Moshannon Wildfire Air Operations Center at the Mid-State Regional Airport. The AT-802 is joined by a Bell 206 Jet Ranger helicopter. The Centre Daily Times has a nice two-part article on the Pennsylvania spring wildfire season. In part one (April 3rd) you will read about some good background information about wildfire presentation and the like. The article also discusses the very important role of the volunteer fire companies who are often to first to respond to wildfires and how wildfires are fought on the ground with support from aerial resources. In part two (April 5th), you will read about the AT-802 on contract in PA, with a some great photos of the 802 that are a must see! In addition, you will read about how aerial (and ground) resources are deployed to the wildfire. I never know how long newspaper articles will be available, but I can say that accessed both articles on the date I posted this article (April 7th).

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

SEATs and Gel Tech Solutions help with landfill fire in Bahamas

This morning I found myself on the Fletcher Flying Services Facebook page. Fletcher Flying Services is an Ag Aviation company out of Immokalee Florida. The top post on their page, which I have embedded below shows one or two of their SEATs loaded with FireIce from Gel Tech Solutions working a landfill fire in Jubilee Gardens in the Bahamas. The Bahamian Government had contracted with Gel Tech Solutions and Fletcher Flying Services (who provided two SEATs) in mid-March 2017 to help them put the lid on a smoky landfill fire that had lead to some evacuations of nearby residents. I started out with this video, and wanting to know a little more, I went through my folder where I save e-mails from Mike Archer's Wildfire News of the Day. Lo and behold, I found just what I was looking for in his March 14th Wildfire News of the Day edition.

Apparently, Matt Struzziero, Director of Sales and Strategic Operations for Gel Tech Solutions sent along this same video and a link to a March 14th article from the Nassau Guardian about the landfill fire at the New Providence Landfill in the Bahamas and providing information about the Bahamian Government's contract with Gel Tech Solutions and Fletcher Flying Services that I reference in the preceding paragraph. Gel Tech Solution's FireIce product was dropped on the fire. Note that before you can view Gel Tech's FireIce page, you have to agree to their FireIce Disclaimer which says in part about FireIce: "Attempting to emulate the demonstrations depicted on this website without proper supervision by trained firefighters and medical personnel could lead to serious injury or death."

Direct link to video (uploaded March 13, 2017)

Monday, April 03, 2017

NW OK Complex (April 3rd) - update 3 of 3 - losses

Last week I began writing a couple of posts with updates on the Northwest Oklahoma Complex of Fires that burned 779,292 acres and is at 100 percent containment on or about March 22nd. It is perhaps still early to assess the damage from these wildfires. But I want to give you an idea of what I have found. I need to say that I suspect that these numbers may change and I consider them preliminary. Further what I am writing about here do not include other areas of the Plains outside of the Northwest Oklahoma Complex that were also affected by wildfires in March 2017.

According to the last press release from inciweb for the NW OK Complex, dated March 21, 2017:
  • at least two civilians died as a result of this Complex of wildfires, one in Kansas and one in Oklahoma,
  • at least 8 homes were destroyed in Oklahoma and 34 residences in Kansas were destroyed with over 100 outbuildings destroyed or damaged in both states.
NewsOK reported in a April 2nd article that "an estimated 3,000 head of cattle and 6,500 hogs” have died. This same April 2nd article talks about preliminary economic impacts of these wildfires:
Although the total economic impact for fires across the state remains unknown, the preliminary estimate for the Northwest Oklahoma Complex fires is $16 million, with an estimated $14.6 million in damage to cattle operations alone. 
Geissler (note: Oklahoma State Forester George Geissler) said it's difficult to determine a dollar amount statewide, as the fires have affected different terrains. 
Grass fires have burned acres that are used to feed livestock but also have burned areas that have little to no economic importance. Acres of wooded areas have burned, causing a loss for lumber and paper mills in eastern Oklahoma, and thousands of miles of fence have been destroyed, which Geissler said costs about $10,000 per mile to install.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin said (see this April 2nd report from 8ABC in Tulsa OK  that the US Department of Agriculture has approved an emergency loan program for livestock producers in Alfalfa, Beaver, Ellis, Harper Rogers Mills and Woodward Counties in Oklahoma and livestock producers in adjoining counties may be eligible for these loans as well.

For more information:

I offer my thoughts and prayers for all who were affected by the Northwest Oklahoma Complex as well as those affected by wildfires elsewhere in the Plains (Texas, other areas of Kansas and Oklahoma, Colorado, etc.).