Video of close call in Russian wildfire, plus spectacular footage of Be-200 jet dropping

This CNN video shows a close call when four people in a vehicle find themselves surrounded by a fire in Russia. (Update: Fire Geezer has the long YouTube version of the vehicle close call video.)

The CNN video also has some EXCELLENT footage (at 2:05) of the Russian amphibious jet-powered air tanker, the Be-200, dropping on some active fire. It is one of the most spectacular videos of a drop that I have ever seen. As we reported on July 30, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has called for proposals to be drawn up on the purchase of additional firefighting equipment, including Be-200 aircraft.

Be sure and click on “full screen”, the icon at the lower-right.

Russian air tanker makes demonstration drop at Santa Maria

The Russian-made Be-200 air tanker made a demonstration drop at Santa Maria, California yesterday. The ship dropped 3,000 gallons of water in a field near the airport and also performed a series of maneuvers. As Wildfire Today reported earlier, the aircraft is on a world tour in a marketing effort. A company in Santa Maria hopes to buy 10 of them which will be leased to U.S. air tanker operators.

If anyone has any videos or photos of the demonstration, please let us know. Here is a photo taken last weekend during a static public viewing.

BE-200 air tanker at Santa Maria, California
BE-200 air tanker at Santa Maria, California. Photo courtesy of Michael Lynn.

Russian air tanker arrives at Santa Maria, Calif.

BE-200 air tanker at Santa Maria, California
BE-200 air tanker at Santa Maria, California. All photos courtesy of Michael Lynn.

The Russian-made amphibious BE-200 air tanker arrived at Santa Maria, California, as promised, on Wednesday. It is open for viewing by the public at the Radisson Hotel, 3455 Airpark Dr., from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. On Monday it will make a demonstration flight and water drop at the airport, according to David Baskett, president of TTE International Inc., who hopes to acquire a fleet of 10 BE-200’s and lease them to air tanker operators in the United States. A press release from the company says the aircraft will scoop water from Lake Cachuma on Monday if permits can be obtained.

BE-200 air tanker at Santa Maria, California

As Wildfire Today reported earlier, the BE-200 can carry up to 3,000 gallons of retardant loaded at an airport, or water it scoops from a lake. A couple of media outlets are getting a little too excited about the aircraft.  KEYT states in an article that it can carry 270 tons of water, which would convert to 67,000 gallons, a remarkable feat, if it were true. The manufacturer claims this purpose-built air tanker can drop that amount on one fuel cycle, if a scoopable water source is nearby. A reporter on a KSBY video, Ariel Wesler, said the aircraft can drop 5,000,000 gallons on a fire without refueling, which would entail scooping and dropping 1,666 times. Another remarkable feat, if it were true.

BE-200 air tanker at Santa Maria, California
Michael Lynn with the Be-200 at Santa Maria, April 10, 2010. Photo by Mr. Lynn.

Wildfire Today thanks Michael Lynn who took these photos of the Be-200 at Santa Maria, published here with his permission.

BE-200 air tanker at Santa Maria, California

Russian air tanker may visit Santa Maria

BE-200 air tanker
A Berieve Be-200 amphibious air tanker scoops water in a demonstration.

An entrepreneur in Santa Maria, California is promising for a second time that a Russian-made amphibious air tanker will appear at the Santa Maria airport for a demonstration. As Wildfire Today reported last August, David Baskett, a Santa Maria businessman and founder of the now defunct Pacific Skyway airline, has been working with the Russian government to bring the plane to the United States. Mr. Baskett envisions the air tanker, also known as Altair, replacing the aging air tankers presently being used that have an average age of 50.

In August Mr. Baskett announced the Be-200 air tanker would be at Santa Maria on September 26 for a demonstration and a month-long visit, but it never showed up. Baskett later blamed “bureaucracy” as the reason, since the approval of the U.S. government is required before it arrives. Now Baskett is saying the Be-200 will arrive at the Santa Maria Public Airport (SMX) on April 7 April 10 for a week-long visit and a demonstration, and possibly scooping water out of Lake Cachuma, if permission can be obtained.

On Wednesday, the ship cleared customs in Anchorage and was on its way to visit several countries in South America before it re-enters the United States in Miami. When it arrives at Santa Maria the plans are for it to park in front of the Radisson Hotel which is adjacent to the airport ramp.

A Be-200 air tanker, if I did the conversions correctly, can carry up to 3,000 gallons of water or retardant. It also can carry foam concentrate which can be mixed with the water in the tank. The amphibious plane has scoops on the bottom much like the amphibious CL-415 making it possible to skim across a body of water to refill its tank. The Be-200, powered by two turbofan engines mounted above the wings to avoid water spray, can also land on a runway to refill with retardant. It has a maximum cruise speed of 435 mph, an economic cruise speed of 348 mph, and a minimum drop speed of 124 mph.

The Be-200 made its first flight in 2003.

Baskett envisions purchasing 10 of the Be-200’s, and then leasing them to air tanker operators.

Santa Maria has had an air tanker base for a long time, but a year or so ago it was downgraded from a fully functional base to a call when needed base, only open if air tankers were working a fire nearby. Wildfire Today has written about that issue previously.

Here is a link to some YouTube videos of the Be-200.

A web site has been established for the Santa Maria visit.

Russian-made air tanker in the U.S.

A Be-200 makes a demonstration drop, using the colors of the Russian (and U.S.) flag

A purpose-built, amphibious, Russian-made air tanker will be at Santa Maria, California on September 26 looking for work. Well, not looking for work right away exactly, since the Be-200 has not been approved by the FAA or the Interagency Air Tanker Board, both of which could be large hurdles to overcome. It is expected that the aircraft will do some demonstrations while it is at Santa Maria.

David Baskett, a Santa Maria businessman and founder of the now defunct Pacific Skyway airline, has been working with the Russian government to bring the plane to the U.S. Mr. Baskett envisions the air tanker, also known as Altair, replacing the aging air tankers presently being used that have an average age of 50.

A Be-200 air tanker, if I did the conversions correctly, can carry up to 3,000 gallons of water or retardant. It also can carry foam concentrate which can be mixed with the water in the tank. The amphibious plane has scoops on the bottom much like the amphibious CL-415 making it possible to skim across a body of water to refill its tank. The Be-200 can also land on a runway and refill with retardant.

The aircraft was designed specifically in the 1990s as an air tanker, one of the few large air tankers that can make that claim. It made its first flight in 2003.

Here is a 17-second video of the aircraft making a drop in Athens, Greece. The video was uploaded to YouTube in 2007.

(THE VIDEOS ARE NO LONGER AVAILABLE)

The 6.5-minute video below appears to be a promotional video about the plane. I want one.