After nearly two months of record forest fires from Michigan to California, the U.S. Forest Service added four more leased heavy helicopters to its firefighting fleet this week. The additions include two Sikorsky S-61s from Siller Helicopters, an Erickson S-64 Air-Crane and an S-70 from Firehawk Helicopters.
CDF Aviation Management Program
Summer means fire season, and Columbia Helicopters’ tandem-rotor Chinooks and Vertols have already been dispatched to their bases, primarily throughout the Western U.S., under contracts with the U.S. Forest Service.
In the aftermath of last fall’s California wildfires–the state’s most destructive ever–a “blue ribbon” commission last month heard tacit admission that a state rule requiring firefighting aircraft to land a half-hour before sunset may have allowed a controllable blaze to become a huge, deadly conflagration.