As ongoing efforts continue to extinguish the Electra Fire in Amador County which lies to the South East of the state capital of Sacramento, CAL FIRE completed a first for the agency’s S70i Fire Hawk helicopter program, completing the agency’s first night aerial firefighting mission, announced via their official Facebook account.
CAL FIRE paid tribute in their post to the crew on board the aircraft for the flight; Pilot Dan Anderson, Fire Captain Aaron Smith, Fire Captain Sean Ketchum, and Fire Captain John Williamson who initiated the first water drop to aid in fire suppression at 9:57 P.M.
In 2018 CAL FIRE received approval from the Governor’s Office to purchase up to 12 new Sikorsky S70i firefighting helicopters from United Rotorcraft. According to a press release at the time, the aircraft purchase would allow the new generation helicopters to replace CAL FIRE’s aging fleet of 12 Super Huey Helicopters.
The purchase advantages according to CAL FIRE included enhanced capabilities including flight safety, higher payloads, increased power margins, and night flying capabilities, which were finally realized last night after many months of training for crews now using the S-70i across the state.
“Flying at night provides further air time and allows CAL FIRE to continue to set new heights in serving the communities of California as we continue to be leaders in aerial firefighting,” said CAL FIRE in their post regarding last night’s successful mission.