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Review – Aerial Firefighting Airshow & Conference, 25-26 January, California
Published:  31 January, 2012

Tangent Link has chalked up another first in its long running series of International Aerial Firefighting Conferences with the presentations complemented by a combined fly in of firefighting aircraft and aerial demonstrations covered by CNN, writes Terry Loughran -Tangent Link's Strategic Military Advisor.

Returning to California after a three-year break, the Conference attracted 150 delegates from 13 countries with 22 Exhibitors giving the Ballroom at the Lion’s Gate Garden Pavilion a great buzz.

The desire of the Aerial Firefighting community for this construct, held at the home of CALFIRE in McClellan airfield, arose from an event last year in Washington DC. The venue had been chosen to access and influence congressmen and senior members of the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, and paid dividends in the key speakers attending in Sacramento to report progress on issues vital to the successful prosecution of Wildfires.

Aerial firefighting, while inherently costly, is a ‘spend to save’ when set against the huge losses incurred when fires get out of hand. However, against a background of fiscal constraint there is a need to ‘do more with less’ and to harness technology in support of more cost effective firefighting.

A novel innovation from Israel was exposed for the first time; night vision aids have improved significantly and there is the prospect of Enhanced Synthetic Vision Systems coming on line.  The sharing of expensive aviation assets is now a reality with bilateral arrangements between the civilian fire forces and the military; the USMC showcased the latest addition to the armoury, the MV-22 tilt rotor Osprey. The show sponsors – ‘Russian Helicopters’ presented the highly versatile (and cost effective) Kamov KA-32.  The ability of this helicopter to fight fires in high rise buildings and to effect rescues will be carried forward to Tangent Link’s ‘High-Rise Aerial Firefighting and Rescue Conference’ to be held concurrent with the Dubai Helishow on 6th November 2012.