What it’s like as a water-bombing pilot during bushfire season



Final yr Mr Jackson helped battle the Sir Ivan fireplace in western NSW. The hearth in the end destroyed 55,000 hectares and dozens of properties.

“I’ve labored everywhere, primarily in British Columbia, however throughout Canada,” Mr Jackson mentioned.

“Firefighting efforts in Australia is kind of much like Canada, the one factor that is totally different is the terrain however all the fundamental firefighting methods are the identical.”

However there are particular components that make water bombing efforts troublesome and sometimes harmful.

“There’s at all times a component of hazard to it, but when it is carried out correctly, it is not that harmful,” Mr Jackson mentioned.

“Wind performs an enormous half, and relying on how sturdy it’s, it may well trigger all of the water to float away from the hearth,” Mr Jackson mentioned.

Water-bombing is the first perform of the helicopter over the bushfire season, however the plane has different makes use of too.

“Usually I’ve a winch man within the helicopter with me, so we will fly crews out to a distant website and hoist them in if there is not a spot to land,” Mr Jackson mentioned.

“Flying a water-bombing plane is not that totally different to flying an everyday helicopter, though when it is a full load it’s totally heavy and it’s good to be sure to do the best stuff so you aren’t getting into hassle.”

Mr Jackson realized to fly in his native Canada. He is has been flying helicopters over fireplace fronts for 20 years.

“You’re employed your means up. You begin on small plane and comply with just a few individuals round earlier than you go to larger craft earlier than you’re employed your means as much as water-bombers,” he mentioned.

This yr is Mr Jackson’s second yr in Australia being contracted out for a number of weeks throughout the bushfire season.

A waterbombing aircraft tackles a blaze in NSW during 2017.

A waterbombing plane tackles a blaze in NSW throughout 2017.Credit score:Jonathan Carroll

Mr Jackson’s profession could expose him to hostile circumstances and excessive climate, however he mentioned there are lots of positives to the job.

“It is nice that you simply get to see a number of totally different nation and you’re employed with nice individuals as properly,” he mentioned.

Andrew Brown is a journalist on the Sunday Canberra Occasions. Andrew has labored on the Canberra Occasions since 2016.

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