There was a fire in a remote but populated area of Kerr County Texas and this is what I saw.

The county and region have been dry for weeks and now the fires are coming. It has been this way since I was a child and I remember the adults talking abou the big fires and then going out driving to look at the burnt out land. Most of this was towards Mountain Home from what I remember but it could have been to the Southwest of the county. Now as an adult I have been to a couple of fires, one as IT support to get the command trailer connected to our network and provide ink and toner for the printer copier. The first thing that the planners need to do is print and disseminante information.

Now that I have every day to myself I look at the ADS-B data pretty often, several times a day, and listen to the radio. I have scanners and old aircraft radios, one is a spare for my Cessna, so I can see and hear the nearby activity.

The day before the fleet of air tankers arrived I heard the VFD on the West repeater giving instructions on how to get to a fire. The instructions included landmarks like "Jimmy's old place" and the "brand new caliche road" so I knew it was remote

From home I saw all the air traffic and quickly found their frequency when I saw a C-130 Hercules inbound for a fire retardant drop. That is the red colored powder that stops trees and brush from burning. Shortly after that I saw helo tankers heading to Kerrville for fueland talk of staying overnight. So I went out to the airport to take some pictures. Man did I get lucky, there was a Skycrane taking off right when I was heading to the hanger.

Skycrane at KERV taking off to head home video

I went out to the airport and caught a skycrane tanker leaving. Click to play the video.

Google streetview Surveillance car saw me the other day but I saw them first.

I was up on my radio tower working a couple of weeks ago and saw the google car driving around. They take pictures and post them on a google maps website called Streetview. A few days later I checked and saw that they had captured me while I was working on the antenna choke balun.

Along with pictures google is recording all of the wireless data networks. By having a databasse of SSIDs to location google knows pretty much every where that you go, even without being in range of GPS. "Privacy is dead" as one of my USSS friends stated recently. As proof the next day I was on the way to the airport and I saw the google car coming so I gave big brother a big wave.

Units flying the fire

Like I said there was a big fire and lots of activity on ADS-B. I have receivers at the house and the hanger. The ADSB exchange is a great resource and I look at it most every day. When I saw the air tanker activity I started to take notes and screen shots.

Yes that is a C-130. There was an MD-87, Avro RJ-85, and British 146 so it was an international effort of manufacturers.

I was listening to most of the activity on the radio as the command plane directed the fleet of aircraft. When the C-130 showed up things got busy. There were two helos and five airplanes in the pattern over the fire. The coordination was very good.

Command aircraft and the helos.

Snaps and video from the fire scene

Since there is no TFR and the aircraft have gone home for the day I went flying. It is late in the day on Wednesday but I took my time with the pre-flight planning and checks. Hanger neighbor Clifford comes over for a chat but he is kind and brief.

It is a dash cam snap from back in February when I went on a Florida trip and a good example of using the checklist for every single item including that fuel and the fuel level. A few days before I found a drop of grease in a spot where it should not be and spent some time checking on that and then today checked the same spot again to make sure that it was a fluke. It was a fluke. Likeley left over from lubing the airplane before the Virginia trip.


Takeoff from KERV video. Click to watch the exciting video
I was able to over take the traffic on highway 27 so not too much head wind.

There are solar farms in Kerr county but that won't make airplanes fly. We will be running on carrot juice before any practical electric airplane is produced.

Here is the fire and the dash cam caught the red lines on the ground where the giant air tankers had dropped a few hours previous. Lots of smoke but it is light and there is only one flame showing. It is super easy to spot fires from the air and the flames are bright red.

Not very easy to see but there are two ground crews working the fires. All of the aircraft have left for the night and are due to return the next day at 11am

The red lines are fire retardant dropped by the huge air tankers, click to play the video.

When I was a child there was a huge fire in West Kerr and it burned for weeks. I remember people talking about it and standing outside looking to the West for the glow of the fires.

It was late and the sun was setting so I headed home.

Landing at KERV video. Click to watch the scary landing

N4267H RIP

Last weekend a Mooney went for a short flight and didn't make it back. I was on the radio for the annual "ARRL Field Day" so didn't know much about it until I listed to the scanner traffic. There was a brush fire and it was right next to the school. Don't know whey there is a school it what must be the worst spot possible as this is the area of base to final turns at KERV. Maybe people will complain about the airport but the problem is the location of the school.

While I was landing I passed over the OLH crash site of the N4267H Mooney. This is the ground track and flight history from Saturday. They missed the school but not by much.

Three short flights

We (people) have only been flying for about one hundred years. My airplane is fifty years old and few of this class are being built now. AvGas is $7 per gallon today. With oil production peaked out flying will start to wind down for all except the wealthy.