Aerial Firefighting

'Pilot to bombardier: Bombs away!'


The SCUBA diver

There is an urban legend that has been around since at least 1987, in which it is reported that the charred remains of a SCUBA diver were found in a tree, reportedly after he was scooped up by an aerial firefighting aircraft. In some cases, it is reported to be a fisherman. The story is dramatic and certainly has the "wow" factor, but it is absolutely false. The odds of a diver or fisherman being in the water scoop area and not being seen is extremely remote. The technology of taking on water simply would not permit an object that big to be taken into the tank. The only injury every reported by a non-participant in aerial firefighting operations was to a swimmer that was allowed to watch an aerial water scoop too closely. Apparently eddies created as the water was scooped and the aircraft departed and knocked the swimmer down. So, continue to dive and fish without fear! No aerial firefighting aircraft is coming to take you away.

The Challenge

Oftentimes, the best way to fight a brush fire is with aircraft. Brush fires are often hard to reach by ground units even in urban areas, because they are contained within a field of dense brush or the fire ground is in a swampy area making driving a truck into the area all but impossible. These missions are challenging and complex, yet most aviators enjoy flying them. Bombs away!

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