Thor to hammer Australian fires

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A Coulson Aviation C-130 dropping fire retardant. Image: © Coulson Aviation USA

Two types of air traffic signal spring in Australia: dive-bombing magpies and firefighting aircraft arriving from the northern hemisphere. One of the first was Coulson Aviation’s L100 Hercules, affectionately known as ‘Thor’, which begins its duties based in Richmond, NSW, from today.

The L100 (a civil designation of the ubiquitous Lockheed C130 Hercules) will be based in Australia for a 100-day contract, flown by Canadian and US crews. As required, it may also operate from several bases in regional NSW, including Dubbo and Tamworth.

Coulson Aviation says the Hercules carries 4000 US gallons (about 15,000 litres) of water-based chemical fire retardant. The aircraft will follow the usual practice of dropping retardant in front of a fire but Coulson is also developing direct attack, dropping a specially formulated retardant on the flames.

Coulson will also operate two Sikorsky S61 helicopters in Victoria at Colac and Mansfield aerodromes. One S61 carries a firefighting bucket and the other uses a belly tank.

Aircraft—both manned and unmanned— that are not coordinated through the state fire authority are requested to remain clear of aerial firefighting operations.

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