05.29.2010

dropping missions of fire

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The summer of 2015 has been a cruel one for the Pacific states of the US. California, for instance, has sweltered in record temperatures, as a crippling drought has entered its fourth consecutive year. It a drought that is expected to cost the state some $3bn ( and cause the loss of at least 10,000 jobs. But there are other effects too. Effects far more physical, elemental and frightening.

In the past few weeks, hundreds of firefighters have battled blazes in the Jerusalem Valley, in northern California. In states further up the coast, such as Oregon and Washington, more blazes have erupted, fuelled by bone dry brush and fanned by hot summer winds. canada goose women The California drought has turned to tinder much of the state bush and forest. Nearly half of the 163,000 sq mile state is forested. And when this dry forest catches alight either from summer thunderstorm lightning strikes, accident or arson the devastation can be immense.

It something Rick Hatton knows only too well. In the last few weeks, Hatton company 10 Tanker has been in the thick of it, fighting fires in California and Washington state. His company uses converted DC 10 jets to douse the forest with fire retardant: a mixture of water and a type of fertiliser that soaks into the wood and makes it less likely to burn. To be effective, the pilots must fly the large aircraft only 200 ft (60m) above the treetops. process is very visual and requires vigilance and skill, he explains.

All over the world during summer, pilots like Hatton must make these spectacularly low flights to help halt the flames, and when the retardant is dumped it can be a spectacular sight as the video below shows. What does it take to fight fires from the air?

The DC 10s often don drop retardant on the fire itself, they douse areas in front of an advancing fire, starving it of fuel and making it easier for ground crews to tackle it. They also don work alone. They are supported by fire fighting teams on the ground, and smaller aircraft which fly ahead of the tankers and direct them.

We have flown as many as nine times in one day with one crew Rick Hatton

have now flown DC 10 tankers on over 1,600 fire flights on more than 300 fires, Hatton says. flight is a little different, but all use a lead plane which directs our three person crew as to where and at what concentration the retardant is to be dropped. We can segment the drop [drop it in several loads] or deliver it in one continuous line up to nearly a mile long.”

Hatton says flying the DC 10 so close to the ground DC 10s usually fly so low only when they approaching an airport is not necessarily dangerous; the tankers carry a much lighter fuel load than they would have as airliners, so they not as heavy and therefore able to manoeuvre more quickly. But this is anything but a routine activity; in 2007, the company first DC 10, Tanker 910, encountered turbulence and dropped some 200ft lower than anticipated. have flown as many as nine times in one day with one crew. The fires that grow to mega status have had as many as 50 of our flights to contain them, but the average is nearer five. Pilots are restricted to no more than 14 hours on duty, even during the biggest fires, and must have at least two days off every 14 days.

Hatton says the DC 10 ability has changed fire fighting tactics, leading to a technique called hitting small fires as hard as possible before they grow into bigger, more unpredictable conflagrations. tactic, called strike is being adopted by many agencies to help mitigate what is likely to be a fire prone future in many geographical regions of the world. aircraft large capacity makes this possible. developed the DC 10 to bring more quantity of suppressant to the fire in one load than any other tanker currently in use, Hatton says. DC 10 is a real game changer. www.canadagoose2014.top/ of Hatton DC 10s has flown out to Australia to be used during the fire season there. And the DC 10s are no longer the biggest fire fighters in service. In 2009, a converted Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet operated by Evergreen International has also been used to fight fires. The giant jet can carry 19,600 gallons of retardant or water for 4,000 miles, and is the biggest fire fighting aircraft in the world. There are plans to convert an even bigger, stretched version of the 747 into a tanker as well.

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