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By Jolee Sallee,
Descend, scoop, drop and repeat: that’s what one pilot at Bridger Aerospace in Belgrade is trained to do. But a lot more goes into fighting fire from the air.
“You gotta remember when you’re on the water, you’re a boat,” said Tim Sheehy. “You’re still an aircraft, but you’ve got to think like a high-speed boat driver too.”
Tim Sheehy is the CEO of Bridger Aerospace, but he’s also a pilot.
He showed me the CL4-15EAF aircraft, better known as a “Super Scooper”.
Pilots who fly the Super Scoopers go to the nearest body of water, scoop up 1,500 gallons of water, and drop it directly over a fire.
“And we continue that all day,” said Sheehy. “Sometimes making over 100 drops a day.”
Usually, pilots try to avoid landing belly first in the water, but pilots who fly Super Scoopers are trained to do just that.
“Not all pilots make it through the training,” said Sheehy. “Some pilots don’t have the feel for the water.”
But the Bridger Aerospace fleet being sent out to help fight the fires in Canada does.
“There’s some tragic fires that have been occurring across Canada in the last few weeks and we offered to assist,” said Sheehy.
This is Bridger Aerospace’s first time fighting a fire internationally.
It’s also their first time putting all six of the Super Scoopers to use.
The fleet departed for Nova Scotia Thursday afternoon. Sheehy says the crew is proud to know they can make a difference.
“We’re just hoping we can help out and protect the thousands of people who’ve been evacuated and threatened by the incident,” said Sheehy.