“The settings allow the pilot to disperse the load evenly along the flanks of a grassland fire, pulling a line of up to 1,000 metres,” explains Koos Kieck, ex-military (South African Air Force pilot), bomber pilot for Working on Fire Aviation.
“On the other hand, one can also ‘open the gates’ and eject the full tank within half a second to penetrate thick forest canopies.”
Once emptied, it returns to the airfield at speeds up to 350 km/h to refill its tank. The refill operation takes about 2 minutes, after which it returns to the fireline.
“I underwent my type specific training in Brazil and Argentina through Aero Globo Aeronaves,” explains Cornel Jansen van Rensburg, who joined the WOF Aviation team in 2017. “Being a bomber pilot is the most rewarding job I have ever done. It combines action and adrenaline with precision, teamwork and a real sense of purpose.” “It is immensely satisfying when our team – the command and control aircraft, Huey helicopters and fixed-wing bombers, along with the ground crews – successfully extinguishes a fire, save lives,and limit damage to property and the environment,” says Koos Kieck. “But to accomplish this, each component has to play its part, and the AT 802 with its speed, large water tank and versatility in drops, continues to prove its worth during operations.”