See the Aircraft Battling the California Wildfires in Action

Dec 8, 2017

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Southern California is on fire. Hundreds of thousands of acres are burnt, with six fires raging uncontrollably. Just Thursday night, a new fire broke out in San Diego County. Dubbed the Lilac fire, it’s already killed more than two dozen horses and destroyed many structures.

California Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency, President Trump is offering the state federal assistance and firefighters from around the country are being brought in to combat the blazes.

An important element in fighting fires is what aircraft can do from the air, dropping water or fire retardant. There’s a wide variety of aircraft operating in Southern California, including the massive 747 supertanker that was used just months earlier in the Northern California fires.

We’ve rounded up some of the best pictures of helicopters, prop planes and even jets that are battling the fires.

Below, an Avro RJ85 drops retardant on homes in Murrieta. The RJ85 is a four-engined jet built in Britain, and was commonly used as a commercial passenger jet.

MURRIETA, CA - DECEMBER 7, 2017: A plane drops fire retardant near a home to stop the wind driven Liberty Fire near Los Alamos Road on December 7, 2017 in Murrieta, California.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
An Avro RJ85 drops fire retardant near a home to stop the wind-driven Liberty Fire near Los Alamos Road on December 7, 2017 in Murrieta, California.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

The “Super Scooper,” more formally known as a Bombardier CL-415, drops water on the Creek Fire in Northern Los Angeles. The aircraft is a dual-engine turboprop built in Canada specifically for fire fighting. The amphibious vehicle flies low over water and can scoop up over 1,600 gallons of water without actually having to land — meaning it can quickly return to where it’s needed.

Along with its piston-powered predecessor, the CL-215, it is a common sight in the Mediterranean, where climate and vegetation similar to Southern California’s routinely cause coastal wildfires — the governments of Italy, France, Spain, Greece and Croatia all operate it in the fire-fighting role, taking advantage of its ability to scoop up seawater and drop it immediately on the flames.

SYLMAR, CA - DECEMBER 06: A super scooper drops water on Creek Fire burning along Little Tujunga in National Forest. (Photo by Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
A Super Scooper drops water on the Creek Fire burning along Little Tujunga in National Forest. (Photo by Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Helicopters carry less water than fixed-wing aircraft, but they can hoover, and can go where airplanes can’t. They carry water typically in buckets suspended from the fuselage, but the chopper below has a built-in tank.

BONSALL, CA - DECEMBER 08: A helicopter makes a nighttime water drop over a burning ranch in the Lilac Fire in the early morning hours of December 8, 2017 near Bonsall, California. Strong Santa Ana winds are pushing multiple wildfires across the region, expanding across tens of thousands of acres and destroying hundreds of homes and structures. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
A helicopter makes a nighttime water drop over a burning ranch in the Lilac Fire in the early morning hours of December 8, 2017 near Bonsall, California. Strong Santa Ana winds are pushing multiple wildfires across the region, expanding across tens of thousands of acres and destroying hundreds of homes and structures. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Dual helicopters pass each other as smoke billows above Santa Paula, California. Large buckets of water hang from the underbelly of the two aircraft.

CALIFORNIA, USA - DECEMBER 6: Helicopters transport water as smoke billows from the Thomas Fire on the mountains near Santa Paula, California, United States on December 6, 2017. Multiple fires around southern California have consumed thousands of acres. (Photo by Justin L. Stewart/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Helicopters transport water as smoke billows from the Thomas Fire on the mountains near Santa Paula, California, on December 6, 2017. Multiple fires around southern California have consumed thousands of acres. (Photo by Justin L. Stewart/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

A Sikorsky “Skycrane” has a built in tank that can carry over 2,600 gallons of water.

A helicopter makes a water drop over the Creek Fire in Los Angeles, California on December 5, 2017. The raging fire fueled by strong Santa Ana winds has burned more than 11,000 acres and caused the evacuation of 115,000 residents. (Photo by: Ronen Tivony) (Photo by Ronen Tivony/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A helicopter makes a water drop over the Creek Fire in Los Angeles, California on December 5, 2017. The raging fire fueled by strong Santa Ana winds has burned more than 11,000 acres and caused the evacuation of 115,000 residents. (Photo by: Ronen Tivony) (Photo by Ronen Tivony/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Grumman S-2 Tracker was formerly an anti-submarine aircraft, and its torpedo bay now stores flame retardant, remnants of which can be seen on the bottom of the fuselage as red streaks.

VENTURA, CA - DECEMBER 07: Aircraft from CalFire battle the Lilac fire in Bonsall, California on December 7, 2017 in Ventura, California. A state of emergency was declared in San Diego County as the Lilac Fire threatened moe than a thousand structures. (Photo by Daniel Knighton/Getty Images)
Aircraft from CalFire battle the Lilac fire in Bonsall, California on December 7, 2017 in Ventura, California. A state of emergency was declared in San Diego County as the Lilac Fire threatened moe than a thousand structures. (Photo by Daniel Knighton/Getty Images)

Featured image by Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.