S-64 firefighter

kolibri282

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It's impressive to see the venerable Sky Crane, a helicopter that first flew almost 6 decades ago, lending a hand in fighting the massive California fires which so starkly tell of climate change. But as we admire the engineering ingenuity of those designers from the days of yore one also wonders why recourse has to be taken to an aircraft that is about twice the age of her pilots to combat the threats of the 21st century and seen from this side of the Atlantic one is even more surprised to learn that power has been curbed to almost a million people for fear of starting more and more fires. In Europe, for almost a century now, only the high power transmission lines are (very high) above the ground and nearly all medium and lower voltage power lines are buried several feet deep. Perhaps this system of power lines haphazardly strung along wooden poles, that one rather links to third world (rat hole) countries, is a tribute to a privatized economy where the power companies prefer to pay dividends to shareholders over investing in secure networks.
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WaspAir

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I doubt that Europe has ever seen conditions fully comparable to what has recently become routine in California. They go through a warm wet winter, encouraging the rapid growth of all sorts of brush and undergrowth, and then can go from early Spring to Fall with essentially no rain at all in many parts of the state (where I lived we could go from March to December with under 2cm of total precipitation). Add in some very hot weather with seasonal winds that can hit 70 knots on the slopes, and you have whole counties that are little more than tinder for a big fire.

That said, PG&E has done a miserable job over the last 20 years of adapting to the current climate conditions; systems that worked fine 35 years ago just aren't safe anymore. Overhead transmission over what was once very empty country used to make the most economic sense. People have now built expensive properties in sites that were once just wilderness and now need fire protection. PG&E is in bankruptcy proceedings now (forced by liability for prior year fires) and they have nothing left to invest in improvements, so the solution is not obvious.

The aircranes are indeed impressive, and Erickson has done a great job of fielding them since they took over the model from Sikorsky . I would hate to have to pay to hire one. My total fuel load in my Bell 47 would barely run one long enought to warm it up.
 

Steve_UK

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Some operators use new build Fire Hawks a variant of the Black Hawk. PZL Mielce delivered a couple this year from Poland to the US ( factory now part of Sikorsky )
 

wolfy

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I doubt that Europe has ever seen conditions fully comparable to what has recently become routine in California. They go through a warm wet winter, encouraging the rapid growth of all sorts of brush and undergrowth, and then can go from early Spring to Fall with essentially no rain at all in many parts of the state (where I lived we could go from March to December with under 2cm of total precipitation). Add in some very hot weather with seasonal winds that can hit 70 knots on the slopes, and you have whole counties that are little more than tinder for a big fire.

That said, PG&E has done a miserable job over the last 20 years of adapting to the current climate conditions; systems that worked fine 35 years ago just aren't safe anymore. Overhead transmission over what was once very empty country used to make the most economic sense. People have now built expensive properties in sites that were once just wilderness and now need fire protection. PG&E is in bankruptcy proceedings now (forced by liability for prior year fires) and they have nothing left to invest in improvements, so the solution is not obvious.

The aircranes are indeed impressive, and Erickson has done a great job of fielding them since they took over the model from Sikorsky . I would hate to have to pay to hire one. My total fuel load in my Bell 47 would barely run one long enought to warm it up.
I was lucky enough one time in Sydney to get to climb all over/in one, the specs are impressive to say the least. The fuel burn alone I was told 500 gallons an hour at 9000 hp.

wolfy
 

Jungleman

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Wolfy.
Yes your correct around 500 gph.
A great machine. I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to burn about 10 million gallons in them.
Pete
 

wolfy

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Wolfy.
Yes your correct around 500 gph.
A great machine. I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to burn about 10 million gallons in them.
Pete
Sounds great mate your a lucky bugger they reckon they are nice to fly plenty off power, are you still flying them?

wolfy
 

Jungleman

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Wolfy
Yes still flying them, in Peru these days on oil & gas work. So not quite the big hours we used to fly logging in Malaysia, where we consistently flew 120/150 hrs for our 3 week tours.
Yes plenty of power & capable of lifting more than their empty weight at lower altitudes. In saying that though at max all up weight in unfavourable conditions it can still require quite a bit of finesse to get the load up and out of the trees. Its not always a matter of simply pulling on the lever and off you go.
Pete
 

Brian Jackson

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I was lucky enough to film a delivery of a rooftop air handler unit in South Bend, Indiana that we hired an air crane for. I had to strap myself to a fixed pipe on the roof to keep from getting blown over the parapet several floors up. Feeling the rotor downwash from that close gave me first-hand experience of the awesome power of this ship. Really left an impression.
 

kolibri282

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Quote: I doubt that Europe has ever seen conditions fully comparable to what has recently become routine in California. /Quote

You are certainly right, if we look at the sheer size of the fires, but I think there are two reasons why fires do not grow to that size over here. First the areas prone to fires are more densely populated so fires are detected earlier and the need to protect homes is more urgent. The second reason is the equipment in Europe. California is about two thirds the size of France and from what I have seen about half of California is where most of the fires start. In France the southern third of the country, close to the Mediterranean, is endangered, there are no large fires in the north of France. This means that the areas where fires are a threat are roughly the same size, but France operates a fleet of 21 dedicated firefighting aircraft. 10 Canadairs CL-215 and 11 modified Grumman Trackers. It would be interesting to know, how many aircraft are operated by the Californian authorities to fight the fires.

One more difference is that over here fires are mainly started either by stupid individuals or criminals who want to clear areas for illegal buildings.

Quote: the awesome power of this ship /Quote
It is interesting to compare the capabilities of a CL-215 and a SkyCrane: The S-64 carries about twice the load of a CL-215 at a cruising speed of 105 mph. The cruising speed of the CL-215 is 180 mph so the CL-215 can make more round trips in a given time which compensates most of the advantage of the SkyCrane. This all adds up to a big economic advantage for the Candair, since operating a helicopter is about three times more expensive than a fixed wing.

But yes, the S-64 is a mighty fine ship!
 
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Steve_UK

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some Firehawk info

 

dinoa

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Mil 26TC near Athens. About 20 tons of water. They pack a ground crew, extra fuel and sometimes a vehicle, set up shop near the fire and a source of water and start working.


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XXavier

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(...)
(...) In France the southern third of the country, close to the Mediterranean, is endangered, there are no large fires in the north of France. This means that the areas where fires are a threat are roughly the same size, but France operates a fleet of 21 dedicated firefighting aircraft. 10 Canadairs CL-215 and 11 modified Grumman Trackers. It would be interesting to know, how many aircraft are operated by the Californian authorities to fight the fires.
(...)
(...)
It is interesting to compare the capabilities of a CL-215 and a SkyCrane: The S-64 carries about twice the load of a CL-215 at a cruising speed of 105 mph. The cruising speed of the CL-215 is 180 mph so the CL-215 can make more round trips in a given time which compensates most of the advantage of the SkyCrane. This all adds up to a big economic advantage for the Canadair, since operating a helicopter is about three times more expensive than a fixed wing.

But yes, the S-64 is a mighty fine ship!
These are the figures, according to Wikipedia:
 

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WaspAir

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Those figures are only for the CL-215. It doesn't count the other models.
California has many aircraft of many types available (I know from personal experience, when Cal Fire chose my home airport as a temporary attack base, and we had a constant flow of water bombers closing down our operations). I have seen everything from PBYs to DC-10s fighting fires there.Rim_Fire_DC-10_Drop.png


There was one DC-10 at the Kincaid fire and three in Southern California recently.

Here's a quote from their website:

The CAL FIRE Air Program has long been the premier firefighting aviation program in the world. CAL FIRE’s fleet of over 50 fixed wing and rotary wing, make it the largest department owned fleet of aerial firefighting equipment in the world. CAL FIRE’s aircraft are strate-gically located throughout the state at CAL FIRE ‘s 12 airbases and 10 helicopter bases.

That doesn't count the other non-owned resources that are on call from throughout the western states, such as S-64s.
I'm glad the French have such an effective program, but don't be misled into believing that California is comparatively under-equipped. Heck, they even had former National Aerobatic Champion Patty Wagstaff flying command and control missions in an OV-10 there for a few years.

You should come visit California in the summer some time. They call it the "Golden State", and that's not just because of the 1849 gold rush. The majority of the state turns a golden brown in the summer for want of rain. Winter is the green time, when the rain falls and it is warm enough for everything to grow, but that abruptly ends and it takes artificial irrigation to make things green in the summer. I used to get my pollen allergy problems in January in California, while all the other states I've lived in had nothing even close to blooming at that time of year, because the green/brown seasons are reversed in California, with the brown time corresponding to the worst heat and highest winds. The wind-driven fires (sometimes 70 knots) spread at outrageous speed (last year, the worst of the Northern California fires grew at 40 hectares per minute, reaching 62,000 hectares), making the task of catching them when they are small nearly impossible.
 
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dinoa

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Beriev 200. Talk about fast turn around times.

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and the Martin Mars with walk in wings


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kolibri282

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Quote: The wind-driven fires (sometimes 70 knots) spread at outrageous speed /Quote
Thank you for this interesting round up! It's good to hear that fires do not spread so much due to lack of resources but rather by the shear brute force of mother natures onslaught. Wiki gives the current tally of the fires as:
Total fires‎: ‎5,980
Cost‎: ‎$163 million in suppression
Total area‎: ‎177,003 acres (71,631 ha)
Fatalities‎: ‎3
But of course this puny amount is only the tip of the ice berg. The true cost of climate change will amount to
"Untold human suffering"
As 11000 scientists recently warned.

PS: is power outage still in effect for so many people?
 

WaspAir

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The power outages have been done in waves, going off, on, off, on, driven by the wind forecasts and conditions. I think it has been restored again in most places at the moment. One can only hope for the rainy season to start early!

This would have been a good year to be in the home back-up generator business, if you had the foresight or luck to build up a big inventory/stock in advance.
 

j bird

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It's easy to back feed your home by installing a 30 amp breaker in your panel, wire a 30 amp rec. outlet, install a male 30 amp rec. plug on both ends of your extension cord, plug one end into your outlet coming from your panel, the other end into your generator, of course this will only run your 110 circuits. Turn off your "main" to your home" other wise your energizing the electric grid in your area, you might kill someone working on the system.
 
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