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Greetings all.

 

Growing up in California, wildfire helicopters have always been a part of my summers. My parents live right under the approach to the local airport that becomes a helibase during fire season, and I get to see a lot of external loads going over.  But there’s also an odd duck in the bunch most times:  A Bell Cobra. I believe it’s operated by CalFire, but it’s job is airborne recon with infrared cameras to find hotspots and map the edges through smoke (at least that’s what my boss told me when I was working as a lookout for the USFS). 
 

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone on here knows much about flying ISR Operations on wildfires. It seems interesting for a guy with a wildfire management degree, and I’d like to know more about it. I did a quick search and didn’t find a whole lot, so I started a thread.

 

Thanks all. 

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So I don't know too much about it but Ive worked with them a few times. USFS has two and Im not sure how many cal fire has, bit word is they will all be retired in the next few years for lack of parts. I got to stick my head in the forest service one and they have a really impressive camera system on it. My mechanic googled it and said it was 3-5 million for that optics set up. Honestly though as cool as an airframe it is it's pretty unnecessary. You could do the same job with and Astar or 407. 

Edited by Fred0311
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On 8/8/2020 at 2:35 PM, Fred0311 said:

So I don't know too much about it but Ive worked with them a few times. USFS has two and Im not sure how many cal fire has, bit word is they will all be retired in the next few years for lack of parts. I got to stick my head in the forest service one and they have a really impressive camera system on it. My mechanic googled it and said it was 3-5 million for that optics set up. Honestly though as cool as an airframe it is it's pretty unnecessary. You could do the same job with and Astar or 407. 

I would have thought they would have some Astars or similar doing it already. I wonder if they’re migrating that way or just going to send the whole mission into UAV or fixed wing. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

It's the USFS FireWatch program. I was offered a job with them back in college (GIS major) to do the mapping operations in the van. I didn't do it. Basically they fly around with a FLIR to map the fire and look for hot spots. I'm not sure if it's really a useful operation or not. 

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