I remember back in the days when I was doing my CPL(H) navs, my route overflew a lot of the small but beautiful towns and villages in the Kilmore, Yarra Valley and Bunyip park areas. It will be very sad to see it all blackened and it will take years to restore.
Our hearts go out to those who've lost loved ones in this ugly battle.
Me takes me hat off to the real heros here, ALL who put their lives on the line for others What sadens me though is that some lives didn't need to be lost on the ground. After it's all over we shall go on about living our lives 'till the next time. I am on 15 acres of dense bush around my home, my fire plan is to get the hell out of here early & let the galant guys save those from themselves.
Having lived thru Ash Wed, (living in Mt Macedon at the time), and TAA lost 2 Flight Engineers and one First Officer, in the nightmare that was that day, I sincerely hope that all crew are safe, but knowing that many crew live in rural areas I am sure some will be in trouble and we can only hope that they and their families are ok.
No they don't have either down here. It's always struck me as strange that some arrangement couldn't be made between, say Quebec and Victoria to place some of the CL's down here in our summer and return them to Quebec in our winter, such as they do with the Erikson Sky Cranes. Certainly our water retrieval points are are far less numerous, but hey anything helps on a day like Saturday 7/2/09.
The CFA did some work experimenting with a Herc out of Mangalore some years ago, not sure why nothing came of it as again any ability to deliver retardant to the fire front helps and as the death toll is now 108 ( a at 0730 0n 9/2/09) I'm sure that with more aerial assets this may have been a lot less.
Haven't heard whether any of the deaths have been crew or families but as a previous poster said , with so many residing in rural areas its possible that there will be some involved.
Wherever you are in Australia you nearly all face the problem of bushfires, just not as ferocious as these ones were.
Our prayers go out to all involved, and perhaps those not directly involved can assist with donations of clothing, food, toiletries, anything at all as some have absolutely nothing left. Monetary donations can be made to the Red Cross.
A few years back hen I was in Army Aviation, I remember reeading somewhere that the FAA won't mandate an AD unless it will cost less than the comparable number of lives it will save, and placing a value of $1.8-ish Million Dollars (US) on your average person.
Ie, AD costs $100M to implement, but will save 20 people, no go. But if it will save 50 or more, then it will be mandated. No idea if this is accurate or not, but no matter...
Taking that figure a little further, with over 100 deaths so far, and a CL-415 costing around $35M AUD, I sincerely hope questions are asked as to why we don't have our own fleet of these aircraft.
Use them for SAR in the winter months, or send them to North America and make them pay their way, but for gods sake, we need something like this...
Thankfully we're in NSW and completely safe, but having over 100 people die due to a bloody bushfire isn't good enough anywhere.
Sadly, I doubt a CL-415 would do much in conditions like on 7th. In those conditions generally only two things stop going fires - either the fire reaches the sea or the weather changes.
Early spotting and immediate effective attack is about the only way to control fires on those extreme days. In my CFA days I remember being constantly reminded that if you didn't have control of a small fire on an extreme day very smartly it was going to be a major fire very quickly.
The guys on the ground, the SEAT pilots and helo pilots have been doing a tremendous job - however unfortunately once the fires are going there is very little that they can do. Increasing the fleet of that type of aircraft and dispersion to reduce initial attack times would probably be far more effective in Victorian conditions than bringing in large capacity fire bombers like the CL415 and the DC-10.
Watched the telly last night and could'nt keep the tears out of my eyes. We sit around waiting for the job that we dont want to do, and when it comes its often too late. The intensity of the fires through the night, when we cant fly, made all aircraft obsolete. I am not suggesting that the Canadair is not an effective aircraft, but with available water sources, not really an option. You can buy a lot of SEAT'S and scatter them all over the country. Anyway, Hats off to the guys both on the ground and in the air who without a doubt saved far more than they actually lost.
Surely now there will be the political will at last to get moving on a permanent fixed-wing fleet of high capacity fire-fighting aircraft.
Ideally then on critical days as Saturday was, you would have 2 or 3 airborne aircraft on patrol early over designated trouble zones then able to stamp out any fire quickly before it gets out of control.
The choppers are great (you blokes did such a great damn job) as they can draw water from anywhere but watching the footage, some of the water dispersal in the gusty conditions looked a bit like peeing in the wind. Larger fixed wing aircraft would obviously dump far greater quantities of water/retardant but will need more of a dedicated government strategy to implement.
The CL-415 is great in Canada where water-landings on calm lakes are relatively simple. In Australia we basically only have the ocean and on windy days like Saturday this makes it very difficult for seaplanes to operate (not to mention the distance of the ocean from many of the fires).
Perhaps the ideal situation is to have a series of 2 or 3 existing airports (Mangalore, Sale, Horsham) set up with permanent large water-storage facilities from which large capacity fixed wing aircraft (CL-415's, converted ex-RAAF C130H's?) can simply land, refill and head out again. Evergreen in the US even have a 747 water bomber up and running. With a bit of luck you could be there so early as to dump tons of water on the arsonists who seem to have started these fires.
Col Paye's idea for scooping water was terrific and should be taken further. However it seems what is really needed is a dedicated fleet of Australian-based LARGE CAPACITY fixed wing aircraft. Whilst I would have thought over 100 lives lost would be justification enough, commercially the 3 or 4 airframes could not only be utilized Australia-wide, they could be sent to Europe or North America during their summers in order to offset some/all of the costs associated.
This tragedy can't be allowed to happen again. People will always want to live in the bush and the bush will always burn (particularly with droughts and global warming). The only way to minimise the damage is to have a rapid-response fleet of high capacity fixed-wing aircraft able to move quickly to either stamp out the fires before they get too big or effectively create a sodden barricade along boundaries of threatened communities to protect them from approaching infernos.
In the meantime, thank-you so much to those CFA and chopper crews. Must have been a horrible weekend for you.