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canyonblue17
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What planes are being used to fight California wildfires

Thu Aug 18, 2016 10:41 pm

Just saw video clip of what appeared to be an L-1011 and some type of Avro being used to fight the horrendous wildfires currently ongoing in California and other parts of Western USA. Sometimes the media will use old clips though, so I was wondering if anyone knew exactly which aircraft are currently being used? And if so, where are they flying in from?
negative ghostrider the pattern is full
 
Airnerd
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Re: What planes are being used to fight California wildfires

Thu Aug 18, 2016 11:47 pm

There's a DC-10 tanker in service for sure. I don't think I've heard about an L1011.
 
bw50505
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Re: What planes are being used to fight California wildfires

Thu Aug 18, 2016 11:57 pm

Avro RJ/Bae-146, DC-10, C-130, and turboprop tanker airplanes are fighting the CA fires, as well as helicopters. No L-1011 aircraft are fighting the fires (I don't believe any L-1011 tankers exist). Apparently Canada is loaning some Canadair tankers as well. The heat has been absolutely blistering this summer in CA and SoCal especially, so the authorities need everything they can get.
 
N809FR
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Re: What planes are being used to fight California wildfires

Fri Aug 19, 2016 3:07 am

Saw a DC-10 as well as what I assume was a C-130 overhead on the Sacramento/Elk Grove "border" last week. DC-10 was quite the sight to see low and slow.
 
DiamondFlyer
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Re: What planes are being used to fight California wildfires

Fri Aug 19, 2016 4:42 am

I take it that the MD-87 tanker is out busy somewhere else, or are they still trying to sort out the retardant ingestion problems with it?
From my cold, dead hands
 
dfwjim1
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Re: What planes are being used to fight California wildfires

Fri Aug 19, 2016 12:00 pm

The DC10s are great to watch but I am wondering how effective they are in fighting a fire. After they drop their load they have to go back to a base that can handle a DC10, reload with retardant, possibly refuel and then head back to the fire. Wouldn't a fleet of helicopters be more effective in fire fighting especially if they could pick up water from nearby lakes?
 
vc10
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Re: What planes are being used to fight California wildfires

Fri Aug 19, 2016 12:23 pm

Further to "dfwjim1 " posting , about 12 years ago I was at an airfield somewhere in the south west of the USA and a large fire was raging in the nearby hills. In came a couple of L-188 and also a few piston powered tankers along with their ground supply tankers, Now this was a small airfield near the fire, but they all managed to operated from it , and their turnaround time was amazing. Fill up with retardent --- airbourne to the fire ----drop your load --- back to the airfield and repeat the above again. Now i could not tell you how long the sequence took , but it was quick and quite breathtaking to watch . I would imagine the airfield was too small and to rough for a pure jet , but very convenient for this type of aircraft

littlevc10
 
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Re: What planes are being used to fight California wildfires

Fri Aug 19, 2016 1:01 pm

The DC10s are great to watch but I am wondering how effective they are in fighting a fire. After they drop their load they have to go back to a base that can handle a DC10, reload with retardant, possibly refuel and then head back to the fire. Wouldn't a fleet of helicopters be more effective in fire fighting especially if they could pick up water from nearby lakes?


The DC 10's are cool to watch...the difference is the 10's can drop a line of retardant over a longer and wider area than a "bucket " of water from a helicopter. in many of these areas "a nearby lake" is not an option. while the 10's have to return to a location that had the supply of retardant, fuel is not a problem per se...even with a laod of retardant, my bet is that DC 10 can get off in less than 6000. ft of runway. It is not like it is load for a transcon or a LAX to HNL flight or such. Just adequate fuel for the drop run and back...maybe an hour..90 min max. in many instances.
 
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litz
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Re: What planes are being used to fight California wildfires

Fri Aug 19, 2016 4:46 pm

I would bet it takes longer to refill the -10's water/retardant tanks, then it takes to refuel it ...

There's nothing that can match it, and the 747, for sheer volume though.
 
n27903
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Re: What planes are being used to fight California wildfires

Fri Aug 19, 2016 7:26 pm

Theres a dc-7 normally based out of CIC also.
 
Waterbomber
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Re: What planes are being used to fight California wildfires

Fri Aug 19, 2016 7:31 pm

The DC-10 tanker is pretty useless by itself on big fires like the ones raging in California now.
It's comparable to trying to extinguish or even control a fire engulfing the entire Empire State building using a single fire extinguisher.

The way they are doing it now, they might as well not do it at all.

In my opinion anything comparable or smaller than a CL415, including the C130MAFFS and the Bae Tankers, be it airplanes or helicopters, are by single units, useless on anything but a camp fire.
Single MI26's, the Martin Mars bombers, the 10 Tankers or the B742 Supertankers can be effective on small starting fires up to a couuple of acres.

On a big fire spanning over more than a couple of acres, you need to line up enough aircraft, such that by adding up the length of each aircarft's fuselage, you get the same distance as the front of the fire. So if your fire front is 1 kilometer long and it consists of dry material or combustible wood forests, you more or less need to fight the fire using at least 15 B747 Supertankers simultaneously. If the winds are strong, you need double that.
Any less than that and all you have is an expensive airshow that does nothing.
 
rcair1
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Re: What planes are being used to fight California wildfires

Fri Aug 19, 2016 10:24 pm

Waterbomber wrote:
The DC-10 tanker is pretty useless by itself on big fires like the ones raging in California now.
It's comparable to trying to extinguish or even control a fire engulfing the entire Empire State building using a single fire extinguisher.

The way they are doing it now, they might as well not do it at all.

In my opinion anything comparable or smaller than a CL415, including the C130MAFFS and the Bae Tankers, be it airplanes or helicopters, are by single units, useless on anything but a camp fire.
Single MI26's, the Martin Mars bombers, the 10 Tankers or the B742 Supertankers can be effective on small starting fires up to a couuple of acres.

On a big fire spanning over more than a couple of acres, you need to line up enough aircraft, such that by adding up the length of each aircarft's fuselage, you get the same distance as the front of the fire. So if your fire front is 1 kilometer long and it consists of dry material or combustible wood forests, you more or less need to fight the fire using at least 15 B747 Supertankers simultaneously. If the winds are strong, you need double that.
Any less than that and all you have is an expensive airshow that does nothing.


I'm afraid I must disagree with you on most of this - and BTW - this is my area... meaning my job is related to effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of aerial firefighting technology.

Before I start in specifics, it is important to recognize that Aerial firefighting, be it fixed wing or rotary wing, is just one tool in the process of fighting a wildland fire.

The primary purpose of dropping retardant from a/c is to retard (slow) the advance of the fire to buy time. In some cases, if the fire is moving slowly, a retardant line will stop that advance, but in the conditions you are seeing in California, they are trying to slow it down and decrease the intensity to provide both time for other intervention and so that the fire front is less intense when it hits values (structures).

It is not intended to extinguish the fire - that is why it is called retardant and it is dropped ahead of the fire, not on it. (indirect attack).
If you were intending to extinguish the fire, you would use another product, a suppressant, perhaps a gel type product like FireIce. That is dropped on the fire directly (direct attack).
Use of this later type of agent is very new and not very common from a/c.

Water can be used both ways but is less effective as a retardant because it will likely evaporate before the fire hits it.

The VLAT (Very Large Air Tanker) - in this case the DC-10 (and no, there are no L-1011's doing this. There is a 747 in process for getting certified - see Global Supertanker))
There is certainly discussion (maybe controversy) in use of the VLAT in wildland fire fighting. A lot of this is driven by cost and focus - but mostly it is not based on actual effectiveness which is not, yet, well characterized.

Certainly a VLAT drop is very expensive. Maybe 50K per load. But it is also very large. A VLAT can put a long line down that would take many drops from smaller a/c. Depending on the circumstances, that may or may not be optimal.

In some cases, using the same $ to drop a number of SEAT (single engine air tanker) loads might be more effective on a given fire. The VLAT, for instance, cannot easily build line that has curves in it - whereas multiple SEAT's can.

----
Regarding this discussion about adding up the length of an aircraft fuselage to determine how many you need for a line. Pure fantasy. The length of a line dropped from any fixed wing aircraft is far more than one fuselage length - and it depends on what coverage level is being set.

---
Finally - helicopters are used in a different way than fixed wing. Typically helicopters will be dropping water (not retardant) on specific targets - maybe to help with putting out hot spots, maybe to help protect values. Sometimes helos will drop retardant, but usually they will be focused on rapid intervention on a point target using whatever water source they can get to quickly.

Most of what I'm seeing on Blue Cut right now are helo's. There are some SEATS. I don't see any medium, heavy or VLAT's in the air right now, but perhaps there is weather preventing it. I'm no where near it.
rcair1
 
Waterbomber
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Re: What planes are being used to fight California wildfires

Sat Aug 20, 2016 2:57 am

rcair1 wrote:
Waterbomber wrote:
The DC-10 tanker is pretty useless by itself on big fires like the ones raging in California now.
It's comparable to trying to extinguish or even control a fire engulfing the entire Empire State building using a single fire extinguisher.

The way they are doing it now, they might as well not do it at all.

In my opinion anything comparable or smaller than a CL415, including the C130MAFFS and the Bae Tankers, be it airplanes or helicopters, are by single units, useless on anything but a camp fire.
Single MI26's, the Martin Mars bombers, the 10 Tankers or the B742 Supertankers can be effective on small starting fires up to a couuple of acres.

On a big fire spanning over more than a couple of acres, you need to line up enough aircraft, such that by adding up the length of each aircarft's fuselage, you get the same distance as the front of the fire. So if your fire front is 1 kilometer long and it consists of dry material or combustible wood forests, you more or less need to fight the fire using at least 15 B747 Supertankers simultaneously. If the winds are strong, you need double that.
Any less than that and all you have is an expensive airshow that does nothing.


I'm afraid I must disagree with you on most of this - and BTW - this is my area... meaning my job is related to effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of aerial firefighting technology.

Before I start in specifics, it is important to recognize that Aerial firefighting, be it fixed wing or rotary wing, is just one tool in the process of fighting a wildland fire.

The primary purpose of dropping retardant from a/c is to retard (slow) the advance of the fire to buy time. In some cases, if the fire is moving slowly, a retardant line will stop that advance, but in the conditions you are seeing in California, they are trying to slow it down and decrease the intensity to provide both time for other intervention and so that the fire front is less intense when it hits values (structures).

It is not intended to extinguish the fire - that is why it is called retardant and it is dropped ahead of the fire, not on it. (indirect attack).
If you were intending to extinguish the fire, you would use another product, a suppressant, perhaps a gel type product like FireIce. That is dropped on the fire directly (direct attack).
Use of this later type of agent is very new and not very common from a/c.

Water can be used both ways but is less effective as a retardant because it will likely evaporate before the fire hits it.

The VLAT (Very Large Air Tanker) - in this case the DC-10 (and no, there are no L-1011's doing this. There is a 747 in process for getting certified - see Global Supertanker))
There is certainly discussion (maybe controversy) in use of the VLAT in wildland fire fighting. A lot of this is driven by cost and focus - but mostly it is not based on actual effectiveness which is not, yet, well characterized.

Certainly a VLAT drop is very expensive. Maybe 50K per load. But it is also very large. A VLAT can put a long line down that would take many drops from smaller a/c. Depending on the circumstances, that may or may not be optimal.

In some cases, using the same $ to drop a number of SEAT (single engine air tanker) loads might be more effective on a given fire. The VLAT, for instance, cannot easily build line that has curves in it - whereas multiple SEAT's can.

----
Regarding this discussion about adding up the length of an aircraft fuselage to determine how many you need for a line. Pure fantasy. The length of a line dropped from any fixed wing aircraft is far more than one fuselage length - and it depends on what coverage level is being set.

---
Finally - helicopters are used in a different way than fixed wing. Typically helicopters will be dropping water (not retardant) on specific targets - maybe to help with putting out hot spots, maybe to help protect values. Sometimes helos will drop retardant, but usually they will be focused on rapid intervention on a point target using whatever water source they can get to quickly.

Most of what I'm seeing on Blue Cut right now are helo's. There are some SEATS. I don't see any medium, heavy or VLAT's in the air right now, but perhaps there is weather preventing it. I'm no where near it.


SEATS like the AT802 are useless.
Have you ever seen documented evidence of any SEAT extinguishing or containing any kind of wildfire? I haven't and would love to see some.


On some airshow in Italy, a bonfire was lit on a runway to showcase the Protezione Civile's CL415's capabilities. It turned out to be an embarrassment as the small fire couldn't be extinguished despite several drops on that fire. In the following video, you can see that the dropped water is pushed away sideways by ascending hot air, so that it doesn't reach the targeted fire: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_kdzNCAAhw
Here you can also see how 2 CL415's work hard with a water source nearby to avoid the fire from jumping the hill, but it's a useless effort. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzTn0j1UH14

The fuselage length is a measure of the carrying capacity of an aircraft. It's not about setting a precise standard but a reference point.
You can't set a standard because there are too many variables to account for, both on the fire and the aerial firefighting platform.

Blue Cut and all other preceding fires that got out of control highlights that current aerial firefighting methods are not effective at battling, nor containing large-sized wildfires.
Dropping fire retardant is a waste of money. A well-sprayed corridor can win you a few minutes and it can only be useful to give ground staff precious time to move out of a precarious spot. But other than that it's useless.


Watch how the Blue cut fire cut right throught the retardant over the course of an hour, to reach a resort in the valley:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-iVHn6d4mQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdWUhreksJw#t=74.163438
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MPxWtbLPO8

The reporter in the 3rd video from min 2:00 confirms that despite lines after lines of retardant, the fire just burns through it.
Very well documented proof that the scale of the aerial firefighting does not match up to the scale of the wildfire, which is why it expands in the first place.
In the end, the wind shift and the ground crews saved the day at Lytle Creek.

It's not about one guy or the other being right, it's about investing enough resources. Our governments can invest more, but they're not doing it.
The way they are doing it now, it's a waste of money. Big problems require big solutions. Yes, it's a big problem because of the big environmental impact of these mostly human-made fires.
The U.S. can afford a fleet of thousands of military aircraft, so I wonder why they can't afford a decent fleet of a couple hundred of large aerial tankers that could make a real difference.
 
mham001
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Re: What planes are being used to fight California wildfires

Sat Aug 20, 2016 4:59 pm

Waterbomber wrote:
The DC-10 tanker is pretty useless by itself on big fires like the ones raging in California now.
It's comparable to trying to extinguish or even control a fire engulfing the entire Empire State building using a single fire extinguisher.

The way they are doing it now, they might as well not do it at all.

In my opinion anything comparable or smaller than a CL415, including the C130MAFFS and the Bae Tankers, be it airplanes or helicopters, are by single units, useless on anything but a camp fire.
Single MI26's, the Martin Mars bombers, the 10 Tankers or the B742 Supertankers can be effective on small starting fires up to a couuple of acres.

On a big fire spanning over more than a couple of acres, you need to line up enough aircraft, such that by adding up the length of each aircarft's fuselage, you get the same distance as the front of the fire. So if your fire front is 1 kilometer long and it consists of dry material or combustible wood forests, you more or less need to fight the fire using at least 15 B747 Supertankers simultaneously. If the winds are strong, you need double that.
Any less than that and all you have is an expensive airshow that does nothing.


I don't know where you get all that. They don't fight these fires with planes only, they work closely in support of the crews on the ground. The goal of fire suppression does not always revolve around saving acreage. I know I certainly appreciated this plane. This particular drop played a critical role in steering that fire where CDF was better able to handle it.

Image
 
rcair1
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Re: What planes are being used to fight California wildfires

Mon Aug 22, 2016 7:13 pm

I hesitate to even waste my time responding to this post because it is clear that your opinion, based upon what expertise I'm not sure, is not open to influence.
You may, in fact, just be trolling.

However, I'll respond to a few items because there may be people here that could benefit from a bit of balance.

I will say that, often (and maybe more often in California), use of air assets can be more a 'for show' than 'for effect'. Why? A number of reasons.
- First, if a fire expands and air resources are not applied, the fire managers will be pummeled by those who think a/c are the best answer. I'm sure a/c are sometimes ordered knowing that "it probably won't work, but we need to try and it can't hurt." In fact, it can hurt in terms of safety of aircrews, cost and public image, but that is a different discussion.

- Sometimes the aircraft used are those readily available, but not most effective. Yes - having more resources pre-positioned around the nation may help. But, no fire department can plan/prepare and equip for the "worst case" event. It simply cannot be paid for, and you would have a lot of resources sitting around getting stale. What is better is good inter agency agreements that move the a/c to the right areas.

- People need to realize that, sometimes, there is nothing we can do to stop a fire, even with the best will and if we had all the equipment we can imagine. I've seen and been in fires where nothing will stop it.

Waterbomber wrote:
SEATS like the AT802 are useless.
Have you ever seen documented evidence of any SEAT extinguishing or containing any kind of wildfire? I haven't and would love to see some.


Yes - on fires I've been IC on where I've ordered SEATs. Of course, they were not used to extinguish the fire, but to retard it's advance so I could get crews in there on the ground.
I've also seen SEAT's I've ordered fail. Should I have not ordered them? Perhaps - but perhaps not.
Finally I've been in cases where I did not order SEATs because I knew they would not work. Often due to terrain and fuel time. I would not put the pilot at risk, just like I would not put an engine/crew in front of a fire they could never stop.

Waterbomber wrote:
On some airshow in Italy, a bonfire was lit on a runway to showcase the Protezione Civile's CL415's capabilities. It turned out to be an embarrassment as the small fire couldn't be extinguished despite several drops on that fire.

Nobody, who has any experience, would state that a/c drops will always work. You found an example where it did not. BTW - airshow?

Waterbomber wrote:
The fuselage length is a measure of the carrying capacity of an aircraft. It's not about setting a precise standard but a reference point.
You can't set a standard because there are too many variables to account for, both on the fire and the aerial firefighting platform.

Huh? I don't know any firefighter who looks at the fuselage length to determine capacity. There are standards for sizes, but you must understand the aircraft you have along with factors such as wind, fuel type, topography, density altitude, weather, smoke as well as the delivery method the a/c has.

Waterbomber wrote:
Blue Cut and all other preceding fires that got out of control highlights that current aerial firefighting methods are not effective at battling, nor containing large-sized wildfires.
Dropping fire retardant is a waste of money. A well-sprayed corridor can win you a few minutes and it can only be useful to give ground staff precious time to move out of a precarious spot. But other than that it's useless.

Taking your premise at face value (which I actually don't) - so we let that ground staff, or civilians burn up? Using a/c to protect people so they can get to safety seems just fine to me. BTW - most often it is the opposite - to provide time for the crews to get in there and work. Also to get the fire onto the ground (out of the trees) where you can have an impact.

Waterbomber wrote:
Watch how the Blue cut fire cut right throught the retardant over the course of an hour, to reach a resort in the valley:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-iVHn6d4mQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdWUhreksJw#t=74.163438
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MPxWtbLPO8

The reporter in the 3rd video from min 2:00 confirms that despite lines after lines of retardant, the fire just burns through it.
Very well documented proof that the scale of the aerial firefighting does not match up to the scale of the wildfire, which is why it expands in the first place.
In the end, the wind shift and the ground crews saved the day at Lytle Creek.


Since I'm not at Blue Cut, I don't have specific information.
But, consider that you do not know what the fire would have done in the absence of drops.
It may have burned more quickly, reaching the Lytle Creek before the wind shift and ground crews you are crediting with saving it.
Maybe not.
But I do know that if you choose not to attempt to slow the progression, guess what, you WILL be successful in NOT slowing the progression.

In other words, one way to put out a fire is let it burn itself out, where ever that may happen. "We stopped at the ocean."
That will be successful - the fire will eventually go out. Most people will not view your tactics positively.

Waterbomber wrote:
It's not about one guy or the other being right, it's about investing enough resources. Our governments can invest more, but they're not doing it.
The way they are doing it now, it's a waste of money. Big problems require big solutions. Yes, it's a big problem because of the big environmental impact of these mostly human-made fires.
The U.S. can afford a fleet of thousands of military aircraft, so I wonder why they can't afford a decent fleet of a couple hundred of large aerial tankers that could make a real difference.


So, your solution is what? Buy a bunch of VLAT's?
Many people don't think the utility of a VLAT has been proven.
Certainly a VLAT will not work in all cases.

I've never been active on a fire with a VLAT - though I've been in a position to observe the drops. But I have been on fires with a/c ranging from small to large helicopter and small to large tankers. Sometimes they work, sometimes they sit on the ground because the weather or smoke is too bad.

Aircraft are a firefighting tool, one of many. None of them are a perfect answer that will work in all cases.
I've seen plenty of cases where aircraft were critical to success. But, it does not always work. Neither do ground tactics.
rcair1
 
Waterbomber
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Re: What planes are being used to fight California wildfires

Mon Aug 22, 2016 8:19 pm

RCair1, does it mean that you are happy that things continue the way they are?
Aerial firefighting is a very useful tool if applied correctly and at the right scale.
However, fires get out of control year after year and cause environmental catastrophe at a huge scale.
The reason? Because cost considerations and bad crisis management cause fires to get out of control.

The DC-10's are usually activated only once the fire is already out of control.
IMO it's useless to have 100 SEATs sitting around when there are 20 knot winds blowing hot flares all over the place.
They are useless even on the smallest of fires. I could see them used for a surveillance role wherein they could use as spotter planes and drop a first load on a starting fire, pending the arrival of big ones.

In my opinion, the reason these fires get out of control is because large enough means are not available in enough numbers, for early reaction.
They cheap-out on an early DC-10 activation, only to spend weeks using thousands of crews to take control of a fire, costing more financial resources and environmental damage.

So yes, in my opinion, the solution is to procure sufficient VLA's to go for an early overkill.
In the end, the financial damage is probably less or the same, but the environmental damage will be strongly reduced.
Overkill is the only effective use for aerial firefighting.

Dropping retardant near big fires does not slow anything down. Big fires will create their own air movements and start launching hot flares all over the place.
What can retardant dropped from above do to stop fires burning at over 1000°C from below? The hot water vapor released in such fires can only help ignite more combustible material by transporting the heat.

In Italy there is a real debate going on about there being money for F35's, but none for aerial firefighting, ie "Canadairs".
Google "F-35 Canadair" and you will find pages and pages of results in Italian.

People are tired to see 1 or 2 small CL415's overflying huge fires. Sometimes none at all, because they are already busy fighting other, bigger or moe urgent fires.
Wildfires are a matter of national security and for that reason, they should invest a lot more to fight them.
I don't care if they need a fleet of 500 VLA's to achieve that goal. There certainly seems to be enoough money to buy fuel tankers, so why not for firefighting?
 
rcair1
Posts: 1147
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Re: What planes are being used to fight California wildfires

Tue Aug 23, 2016 6:05 pm

Waterbomber wrote:
RCair1, does it mean that you are happy that things continue the way they are?

No. In fact, I'm in an organization whose existence is precisely the use of technology in aerial firefighting. That includes evaluation of current technology as well as future.

I was going to reply to your message, but since it appears that most people have dropped off - not really worth it.
If I see discussion, I'll jump in.

- Bob
rcair1

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