Special Firefighting Aircraft to go Into Service

(GantDaily Graphic)

PENFIELD – While most of us are still suffering the effects of clearing the most recent snows from our driveways, Pennsylvania’s spring wildfire season is upon us. These beautiful spring days infect many of us with the “clean-up bug” and we get busy around the house. Careless debris burning related to those clean ups and other human related activities have traditionally been the cause of the majority of our wildfires. That means our local wildland firefighters are gearing up to deal with these fires across the region.

One of the tools that the Bureau of Forestry uses to attack these wildfires will soon be arriving at the Mid State Airport at Black Moshannon. It is in the form of an Air Tractor 802 “Water Bomber” that will be used for initial attack on wildfires throughout the region. This particular model was designed specifically to fight wildfires and has become a workhorse across the nation. It has the capacity to deliver 800 gallons of water or fire retardant material quickly to a wildfire. This can be applied in a number of patterns in order to effectively control a wildfire. The aircraft will begin operations on April 3 and be on-station for five weeks. It will then move on to contracts in other states as wildfire activity picks up in other parts of the country.

 Over the years, the availability of these types of aircraft has helped to control many wildfires that had the potential to cause great amounts of property damage by being able to attack them in their early stages. Their early attack has kept fires small enough to allow firefighters less difficulty in controlling them when they arrive on the scene.

In order to prepare local wildfire fighting resources to work in close coordination with the aircraft, a training meeting is planned for 10:00 a.m. on April 2. It is to be held at the Black Moshannon Forest Maintenance Headquarters on Airport Road. Topics that will be covered are; basic aircraft operations, air tanker operations, and general safety for wildfire fighting when aircraft are in use.

Please consider attending this briefing. Not only is the training informative, but the aircraft is required to make a test drop to certify its readiness to go on-line as part of Pennsylvania’s wildfire fighting resources. This test drop will occur at the Moshannon Air Tanker Base at the Mid State Airport immediately after the end of the training (weather permitting).

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