Pics of fire near Yosemite

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Chris B
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Pics of fire near Yosemite

Post by Chris B » Sat Aug 24, 2013 8:07 pm

I flew a friend up to Tahoe yesterday (actually had to divert to Minden because of the smoke...), and we took some pics of the fire west of Yosemite. The color shots are with my little compact camera, but the B/W shots are with my friend's high-end SLR in infra-red.

Our route was directly over the north rim of Yosemite Valley between El Capitan and Tioga Pass at about 13,500'. See Flight 4483 for all the gory details. The tops seemed about FL25, and the center of the fire looked exactly like a thunderstorm on NEXRAD.

I'd flown out of the airport (E45) directly west of the fire three days ago without incident, but by the time I returned a few hours later we had to divert to Columbia (O22). This fire is so bad that they are even using the DC-10 air tanker (link).

For more - and higher resolution - pics, see: link

Chris
Yosemite fire from South
Yosemite fire from South
Yosemite fire from South, about 2 hrs later.
Yosemite fire from South, about 2 hrs later.
Yosemite fire in infra-red.
Yosemite fire in infra-red.
Yosemite fire in infra-red
Yosemite fire in infra-red
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rwtucker
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Re: Pics of fire near Yosemite

Post by rwtucker » Sun Aug 25, 2013 10:48 pm

Great pics Chris. Thanks!

I see a lot of interesting and innovative aerial firefighting equipment up here in the northwest. KBOI is the national command and logistics center for all US forest fires. They staged most of the KSUN firefighting from my summer base at KMYL. We always see an array of converted fixed wing all the way up to the 10; few of the zero hour DC-3 turboprop conversions are still operating. The rotary wing workhorse is the Sikorsky S-64 . . . saw a steady stream running back and forth to KSUN dipping water from the lakes around KMYL. This year, I saw a strange new bird with two main rotors and no tail rotor. The main rotors were offset from vertical by a few degrees to either side of the cabin. One of our members will probably know all about it but I have never seen one like it. I assume the props were counter-rotating.
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Re: Pics of fire near Yosemite

Post by Chris B » Sun Aug 25, 2013 11:22 pm

rwtucker wrote:This year, I saw a strange new bird with two main rotors and no tail rotor. The main rotors were off vertical a few degrees to either side of the cabin. One of our members will probably know all about it but I have never seen one like it.
I'm pretty sure that is a Kaman K-Max. I saw one perform at Watsonville a few years ago.

Really a funny looking aircraft!
Kaman_ K-max.jpg
Apparently they are great for lifting (~7000 lb useful load), with benign handling for a chopper, but not particularly fast (~100 kt max). So probably a good fit for firefighting.

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Re: Pics of fire near Yosemite

Post by Chris B » Sun Aug 25, 2013 11:32 pm

rwtucker wrote:I see a lot of interesting and innovative aerial firefighting equipment up here in the northwest.
BTW, have you ever seen the Evergreen 747 tanker? I've never heard of that actually being called into action.

Image

Merely 20,000 gallons, but still 150,000 lbs under gross... :shock:

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Re: Pics of fire near Yosemite

Post by rwtucker » Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:42 pm

Chris B wrote:I'm pretty sure that is a Kaman K-Max. I saw one perform at Watsonville a few years ago. Really a funny looking aircraft! Apparently they are great for lifting (~7000 lb useful load), with benign handling for a chopper, but not particularly fast (~100 kt max). So probably a good fit for firefighting. Chris
That's it! K-Max. Thanks. Compared to the S-64, it carries a pretty small bucket so I'm guessing it is being used as an assist in tight places where the tankers can't drop well and the S-64 might be risky for stability.

I have not seen the Evergreen 747 operating here. In general, it would not be a good choice for this terrain but it might have been a good choice across the ridge in Sun Valley, operating out of KBOI. The terrain there is relatively flat on the burning slope west of KSUN. The USFS is taking criticism for not deploying the 747 more. I don't know the issues but, with Evergreeen's history and management, I suppose some kind of infighting is possible.

Aside from the S-64, the aircraft that seems to be delivering well here is a single engine, single pilot, turboprop tanker that looks like an oversize crop-duster. A dozen or so are stationed here and have been flying well into the twilight. They do a good job delivering precision placement on the slopes. It's fun to watch them take off. They adjust the load for DA to consume all 6,000 ft. of the runway. You would swear that they aren't going to make it. In the last few feet the wheels clear and they climb out at what looks like 150 FPM, barely clearing the up-slope on the 16 departure. You can see the field grass bending below as they skim the ground south of the runway. Scarey!
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Re: Pics of fire near Yosemite

Post by rwtucker » Mon Aug 26, 2013 4:32 pm

I found one reason why the S-64 Skycrane might be getting much more use than the Evergreen 747. The S-64 delivers the same payload in four trips that the 747 delivers in one. Around here, the S-64 can probably deliver 10 or more full cycles in the same time the 747 can deliver one. The situation would have to be just right for the 747 to outperform the S-64.
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