Ten things I think I think

As the Aerial Firefighting conference winds down at McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento, these are the 10 things I think I think (with apologies to Peter King).

1. I think 150 scoops in a water-scooping CL-215T in a 13-hour flying day is pretty amazing. That’s what a pilot from Spain told me he accomplished on a fire one time before his agency changed the policy of no limit on the number of hours flown to nine hours per day. The average number of scoops he usually completes now is 10 per hour.

basket2. I think the extraction/insertion upside down folding “umbrella” demonstrated by Aviation Safety Tactical today for hauling personnel by helicopter to a remote area is pricey at $75,000 each. A representative said the price will come down if it ever goes into mass production.

3. I think it will be interesting to see if the only purpose-built Type 1 air tanker, the Be-200, ever obtains FAA and Interagency Air Tanker Board approvals. The Be-200 is the Russian-made, jet-powered, 3,170-gallon, amphibious water scooping air tanker made by Beriev. The manufacturer and an American company headed by David Baskett are still trying to push the approval through the bureaucracy. We need more purpose-built air tankers.

4. I think it is surprising that with the highly publicized California drought the two hotels I stayed in while in Sacramento both had high-volume shower heads — the large saucer-shaped versions that Holiday Inn Express advertises on billboards. One community not far from here is requiring residents to reduce their water consumption by 25%, under threat of large fines if they don’t comply.

5. I think I was lucky to be routed into the expedited screening security line at the Rapid City Airport. I was pleased that I did not have to remove the boarding pass from my pocket, take off my belt and shoes, or remove my computer from my carry-on while it went through the machine.

6. I think I miss the days when on a flight we at least were given a tiny bag of peanuts. It is only a distant memory now. How long will it be before they start charging for a soda pop or a glass of water?

7.  I think hotels need more electrical outlets. In order to plug in the coffee maker, I had to crawl under a table and unplug the TV or a lamp that I needed, or carry the machine across the room where there was a vacant outlet. Then there’s other devices that also need electricity, like the computer, camera battery charger, and the cell phone.

8.  I think that since the Lions Gate Hotel at McClellan totally screwed up my reservation, telling me I had none in spite of the printout I showed them of the email confirming the damn thing, I will never go near that hotel again.

9.  I think it is impressive that to get ready for the grid test of their BAe-146 air tanker, Minden Air Corp obtained and pounded into the earth 3,155 four-foot “T posts” to hold the cups that will catch and measure the retardant. The grid test is a requirement to obtain certification from the Interagency Air Tanker Board. The retardant caught in the cups, which are spread over a large area, can determine the distribution of the retardant.

10. Requiring suits and ties for a fire conference is stupid. Hey Tangent Link and conference chair retired Admiral Terry Loughran formerly of the Royal Navy — the 1950s called and they want their “dress code” back.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

16 thoughts on “Ten things I think I think”

      1. Brainered Helicopters made up a aluminum square rescue basket a number of years ago and carried it around in the support truck for the 58Ts and then Blackhawks. The sides may have folded down for easy storage and it had a gate on one side for easy access. It was pretty low tech but did the job. I don’t thing they spent more then a couple of thousand on materials and labor for it, home built.

  1. Thanks for the good coverage.
    And the air travel/hotel blues,
    After five intense travel years as a government contractor I learned a lot.
    I have a 3 plug extension cord plus a 3 plug outlet and surge suppressor so I have all the outlets I need to charge/run gadgets. Got a nifty small portable cannon printer that travels well. Worth the cost. A large display alarm clock, can’t trust wake up service from hotels. A small container of instant coffee and small thermos. Beats the airline/hotel/conference coffee. Good quality luggage. For the plane my own health food snacks. TSA, they have yet to figure out what job they have to do or how to do it, besides harass people. I’m embarrassed to say I have left some dangerous items in carry-on bags by mistake and they went right by the x-rays and visual searches. 3-3-1 they never check so I never take it out. Grin and bear it. For sudden, unexpected dress up occasions I carry a Duluth cotton sports coat and neutral color clip on tie. Fire conference dress code???

    Good comment from you Bill.

  2. Fly Aliegiant (sp) …. Bill

    Fly to PHX or LAS and you will find out bottled water is $3 per as of recently and confirmed today en route Las Vegas…

    No free water or peanuts……baby….it IS already here at some airlines

    Who did you fly with, Bill

    1. I flew United to Sacramento.

      A year or so ago I took Allegiant to Vegas, and they have options for a ton of add-ons or upsale items. But that’s the first I have heard of any airline charging for water.

  3. Lions Gate… now you truly have returned to Region 5… welcome back Bill!!

    I usually stay at Crowne Plaza (formerly Holiday Inn). 5 minutes away. Recently remodeled rooms, restaurant, and lounge.

    1. Good idea, Ken. The Crowne Plaza is where I ended up and I’m very pleased.

      After I wrote about the treatment I received at Lions Gate, someone told me that several people in their company made reservations there for a two month stay, but after six weeks they got kicked out. The hotel said they had no record of their reservation for those last two weeks, and they needed the rooms.

  4. I think you need an award for your coverage of the conference. Talking the time to visit with Mr. Harbour was interesting. Still trying to figure out what is really going on with that program. Will it causing more damage than it will ever benefit?
    It was good to see Mr. Petterson receiving an award for his investigative efforts.
    I hope you meant some folks from Cal Fire.


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