Photo courtesy Lt. Col. Bryan Allen
SACRAMENTO, CA - A California Air National Guard C-130 pilot who got special permission to shoot video in the cockpit has documented the aerial fight against the massive Rim Fire.
Lt. Col. Bryan Allen of the 146th Airlift Wing based in Ventura County mounted a GoPro camera on the cockpit window to record multiple retardant drops over the blaze.
A modular airborne firefighting system (MAFFS) is carried in the cargo bay of the C-130 and drops 3,000 gallons of retardant in a matter of seconds.
Allen spoke to News10 at McClellan Airfield while a ground crew was refilling the retardant tank.
"It's the closest flying you're going to get to combat in the United States," he said.
Allen said one of the original reasons for recording the video was to show Lockheed and the US Air Force how annoying automated warning messages are in the moments leading up to the retardant drop.
In video shot over the Rim Fire, a woman's voice is heard repeatedly warning the pilots that the terrain is too close and the landing gear hasn't been lowered.
Allen, who's on leave from his civilian job as an American Airlines pilot, acknowledges the value of the audible warning on most flights, but said it's a distraction while fighting fires.
"She can be irritating, certainly," Allen said.
He said a software fix is in the works and the Air National Guard flight crews won't have to deal with the nagging voice next fire season.
by George Warren, GWarren@news10.net