Each fire season, more fixed-wing and rotary aircraft are added to aerial firefighting fleets in the private industry and government agencies, such as Cal-Fire and the Los Angeles County Fire Department. In addition to fighting fires, these versatile aircraft perform search and rescue missions and many other first responder missions.
The Blackhawk Helicopter is a proven military-designed machine that can withstand the physical stresses demanded by aerial firefighting missions. Since 2000, the Los Angeles County Fire Department has proven the operational performance of its S-70A Firehawk helicopters, saving lives and properties as part of its highly effective air operations unit, serving as the best example to an area that now boasts dozens of Black Hawks and Firehawks between public and private operators in the firefighting space.
Private companies entering the aerial firefighting industry looking to stand out offer helicopter services and aircraft that include aircraft with advanced equipment upgrades, next-generation training, and other services that play a significant role in the industry. Black Widow Helicopters is fast shaping up to be one of the leading companies modernizing Black Hawk helicopters for the firefighting industry. The Black Widow UH60 Black Hawk Modernization Program is designed to target older systems and airframes nearing obsolescence in military life that have become too costly to maintain for the military and lack the functionality required to fit into ever-evolving mission requirements. The Black Widow program targets platforms such as UH60 in the aerial firefighting industry.
Black Widow Helicopters addresses the need in the global market for customized, modernized, former military helicopters that are repurposed for both the fire safety and personal/corporate aircraft markets. Their Uh-60 program focuses on solid aircraft with many cycles remaining on the airframe and engines and performance in line with newer aircraft. For the operator, these upgrades can extend the life of an aircraft for decades at a fraction of the cost of buying new, more costly aircraft.
Black Widow has partnered exclusively with Primehawx, allowing them to provide customers with the best UH-60 maintenance the industry offers.
Their state-of-the-art secure facility and US Army-trained UH-60 technicians allow them to offer periodic maintenance, heavy maintenance, paint, modifications, flight testing, training, and much more. The Black Widow UH-60 Black Hawk features an expansive, full-width, touch-screen glass cockpit with a customizable, state-of-the-art Interface, offering a selection of pilot-orientated mission modes, access to the Black Hawk’s main navigation, engine management, onboard equipment, and safety features. The cockpit panel is free of unnecessarily cluttered instrumentation in the quest for a more pilot-focused, up-to-date, and seamless-looking appearance.
Black Widow President Barry Oberholzer, and Primehawx President Michael Faris gave us a first-hand look at the facility in Camarillo, CA, the program, and a completed Black Widow Blackhawk that is ready for delivery.
Barry started in aviation in 2003. He has worked and flown helicopters for several companies, doing various types of flying and working on helicopters worldwide. He purchased a UH-1 Huey from Demmi Search and Rescue in Maine and started his UH-1 Modernization program, “giving new life to the flying legends.”
Barry shifted his focus to the Black Hawk Helicopter as he saw the international Black Hawk demand in aerial firefighting. Black Widow’s primary mission is upgrades to Black Hawk Helicopters geared towards aerial firefighting missions. He has grown his team with professionals who know the industry very well. Barry is very hands-on and involved in every aspect of the Black Widow Black Hawk Modernization Program and the other services and programs his company offers. Black Widow currently has 21 Black Hawk Helicopters ready for its modernization program.
“Primehawx was created to serve the needs of the Black Hawk Community,” said Michael Faris, President of Primehawx. Faris started his career in the Air Force as a Pave Hawk crew chief with the 56th RQS. After completing his commitment to the Air Force, he pursued his interest in the civilian contract role. Michael has worked as a lead mechanic on contracts worldwide, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. His knowledge and experience with the Black Hawk Helicopter prompted his hiring at Bluesky Helicopters, where he created a successful maintenance program from the ground up. Primehawx works exclusively with Black Widow Helicopters, providing the industry’s best Black Hawk maintenance.
Black Widow Helicopters and Primehawx continue to make strides in modernizing the Black Hawk Helicopter. Their program allows older machines to extend their life into the civilian world of aerial firefighting rather than sitting in a boneyard rotting away. They can modernize an aircraft using cutting-edge technology, many of which have a lot of life left in them.
Their state-of-the-art secure facility and US Army-trained UH-60 technicians allow them to offer periodic maintenance, heavy maintenance, paint, modifications, flight testing, training, and much more.