More on Water Bombers
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In a previous post I drew attention to the use of water bombers Canada sent to California to help fight their brush fires. I thought I would write a bit more on these remarkable aircraft used extensively here in Canada to help fight forest fires in our vast forests much of which is not easily accessible by land vehicles.
As background, one needs to know that the airplane has been instrumental in opening up the Canadian North to use by more of us. It began by the romantic heroic exploits of the bush pilot in small aircraft flying into uncharted wilderness in small plane which could land on the multitude of lakes, in the summer, and snow, in the Winter. Even today the famous Beaver and Otter aircraft, or their immitators, are widely used. http://www.bushplane.com/
Finally, the mapping of Canada, all the way to the North Pole was accomplished by aircraft photographing the land, from which maps and charts could be made. Mineral exploration would not be possible without aircraft. The most recent exciting explorations, the search for diamonds, is heavily dependent of aircraft in the far North. In less that 20 years Canada has become a major producer of diamonds.
Water bombers have become a very important part of forest fire supression across Canada.
These planes can be spotted all across Canada. Ontario maintains a fleet of them based in Sault Ste. Marie with others based in other centres. Every time I go the the Sudbury airport there is one parked there. Some of them are assembled in North Bay in a Bombardier factory at that airport.
Here is a brief history of the use of air craft in forest fire fighting. http://www.borealforest.org/world/innova/aerial_history.htm
click on photo to enlarge
Here is my up close and personal experience with a water bomber. A small fire began a 1/4 mile upsteam from me (a neighbour's burning of brush got away on him). It was not long before a water bomber showed up and flew low over the fire to take a look at it. Then it circled again passing about 1000 feet above my farm yard as we watched from the back door. At just the right moment it dropped it load of water on the fire. It then went away to pick up water on a local lake and returned for a second drop. Shortly, after that a crew of three forest fires technicians were brought in by helicopter to make sure the fire did not re- ignite. The camped overnight by the fire.
This fire could have been fought without a water bomber as it was a long the river. A crew could have been brought by truck and pumps set up by the river but to do so a fire of a couple of acres would have allowed it to grow to 20 or more acres during the delay. Waterbomber used at the early moments of a fire can prevent their growth.
Here is a You Tube video of a superscooper at work. You also get a brief look at the typical forest and water landscape around here.