This summer has been pretty lousy for outdoor photography. Living in far Northern California in the summer, we seem to have our fair share of forest fires. More and more though, the fires seem to be bigger and last longer than they used to. The bad part of having the fires in the general vicinity is – they bring alot of smoke! So much so, you cannot go out and take decent photos because there is always smoke in the air which causes a nasty type of ‘fog’ that is not conducive to good photography.
However, with large forest fires, also comes several different types of fire fighting aircraft. I have had some success gaining access to different areas where these aircraft may be temporarily stationed. I’ve also had several ocasions where I was just in the right place at the right time. With either of these, I enjoy taking photos of these aircraft in action or even at rest and also enjoy seeing their capabilities in person.
One of this summer’s large fires is only about an hour or so away from my house. Most of the days, the smoke has been low and very thick – not only grounding aircraft, but also prohibiting any photography. I was notified by a friend that a unique type of fire fighting aircraft was currently flying at this fire. This aircraft scoops water from the lake and then flies to the fire and drops the water. It then returns and repeats the process over and over. The smoke had lifted and the use of aircraft and the ability to photograph had become possible. So off I went to try and see what I could possibly get.
Luckily my friend was from the area and knew it well. He took me on a back road and we were able to get right down to the waters edge. Not only that, but the aircraft were scooping water and flying right toward our location. There were four of these aircraft working in unison. The CL-415 scoops up approximately 1600 gallons of water from the lake to then drop on the fire. The fire was nearby and the planes were returning about every 10 minutes. Plenty of opportunity to take a lot of photographs instead of the usual one or two action shots.
I have numerous photos of different angles with these planes, but thought I would just include one here to give you a taste!