Firefighting From the Sky

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Firefighting From the Sky

Airplane tries to extinguish the fire with fire retardant during forest fire in southern France

Firefighting From the Sky

Firefighting From the Sky

By Andrew Berrey

When you are faced with massive forest fires spanning for hundreds of kilometers, it might seem as if all is lost and nothing can be done to stop the flames. However, there is one capable resource that can be used to tremendous effect on even the biggest natural wild fires - the firefighter plane.

The First Planes

First conceived shortly after the Second World War, the first ever firefighting planes were tested out in the 1950's in California. These early efforts were just small, single-engine planes which used wooden beer kegs to carry water, dropping their payload onto forest fires. While these efforts were largely unsuccessful, the potential of such fire fighting weapons was realized by the US Forest Service, who seized upon the idea of using much larger ex-military aircraft leftover from the war.

These aircraft, which included such beasts as the B-17 Flying Fortress and C-119 Boxcar, were ideally suited for carrying big cargoes across long distances, and so they were also perfect for transporting water or flame retardant materials. Tough and maneuverable, these airplanes were able to withstand the stresses of aerial firefighting in a way that their earlier cousins could never do, and were able to carry enough of a payload to have a real impact on wild fires.

Some commercial aircraft were also employed as firefighters as well, including the DC-6 and the DC-7.

The Unique Firefighter - The CL-215

Given the success of the ex-military and ex-commercial aircraft in firefighting, there was only ever one machine developed specifically for this purpose. The Canadair CL-215 was first introduced in 1967, and stayed in production for 23 years. Used primarily in Quebec and France, these planes also saw plenty of use in Spain, Italy, Greece, Venezuela and Thailand. The low-flying CL-215 is a very capable firefighting machine, able to deliver a 4,500 kg water or flame retardant chemical payload, while also being able to take off and land on water.

Firefighter Planes Today

Today a whole range of airplanes are used in firefighting. Some CL-215's are still in use, while the smallest firefighter is the Single Air Engine Tanker, a plane designed for agricultural spraying that has been converted to drop up to 800 gallons of payload onto a fire.

The world's largest aircraft firefighter is called the "Evergreen Supertanker", a Boeing 747 that has been converted specifically for the purpose of fighting fires. It's able to carry an enormous 24,000 gallons of water or chemicals and is able to be deployed all over the world, wherever it's needed.

Author: Andrew Berrey, webmaster and site owner of [http://www.flightbytes.co/] a video and media sharing website for aviation enthusiasts. Upload your videos for free or just have a look at all the other videos. We also have articles on the site and we are always adding fresh content for all our members. Membership is free and so is uploading your videos.

Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/expert/Andrew_Berrey/554292


Andrew Berrey

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