See the Aircraft Battling the California Wildfires in Action
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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.
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.
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.
Dual helicopters pass each other as smoke billows above Santa Paula, California. Large buckets of water hang from the underbelly of the two aircraft.
A Sikorsky “Skycrane” has a built in tank that can carry over 2,600 gallons of water.
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.
Featured image by Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images.
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