Helicopter help: Fighting Virginia wildland fires from above

  • Source: Orange County Register
  • Published: 04/15/2019 12:00 AM

It’s not a bird. It’s not a plane. It’s a Bell 206 helicopter and it is being temporarily housed at the Orange County Airport to fight wildland fires. The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) contracted the pilot of the helicopter, Andy Stephen of Velocity Flight Technology, for this spring wildfire season. Stephen has been a pilot for 12 years and fighting fires with a helicopter bucket for about four years. The bucket can carry about 100 gallons of water, at a weight of nearly 900 pounds, for aerial firefighting. Buckets vary in sizes and depend on the aircraft’s lifting capacity. Some buckets can hold more than 2,500 gallons of water. Annually, the VDOF contracts helicopter pilots to be stationed at local airports within the state during a time where wildland fires tend to be the most prominent.


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