Are "air shows" effective?

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The Redding Searchlight newspaper in California has been running quite a few articles on wildland fire recently. Their latest is one about air tankers, along the same lines as the one written by the Missoulian a couple of days ago.

Below is a brief excerpt from the Redding Searchlight’s article:

Where there’s raging wildfire, there are often calls from the public for an air show – a sky full of air tankers and helicopters squelching the flames – state and fire officials say.

“It’s kind of a misconception of the public sometimes – that aircraft are going to be the panacea and save the day,” said Dennis Brown, regional aviation safety manager for the U.S. Forest Service in California.

But while firefighting aircraft usually are much more visible than the crews laboring below, they need ground support to extinguish fire.

“(The people on the ground) are the ones putting the fire out,” said Bill Payne, chief of aviation for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “We are the ones helping them.”

But that doesn’t mean that the aircraft aren’t a valuable tool key to quick suppression of fire.

Payne credits air tankers and helicopters with helping the agency stop 95 percent of the fires it’s called to before they burn more than 10 acres.



Thanks, Dick


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