As Australia prepares for bushfire season, a new group of pilots is ready to bring a new weapon to the nation’s firefighting arsenal.
Coulson Aviation is training up to four Australians to fly in the NSW Rural Fire Service’s new bird-dog aircraft, with this season set to be the first time home-grown pilots are in the cockpit.
Bird-dog aircraft are fixed-wing planes that coordinate the actions of helicopters and water-bombers and scout out safe spots to fly.
Michael Hayes and Tony Franc are two of the Australian pilots being trained in the new role. Mr Hayes, a 31-year-old father of three, was a commercial pilot with Virgin for nine years before COVID-19 hit.