While the Midwest is drowning in floods, out here in California we're baking, and fire season has come upon us yet again, and this time with a roar. With so many fires burning across northern and central california, air attack coordinators are finding themselves very short of tanker resources...too many fires, too few airframes.
So when the Piute Fire broke out over the weekend in the mountains between Mojave and Lake Isabella (roughly at the head of Jawbone Canyon), there were few aerial resources to throw at it. By this afternoon, only four planes, two CalFire S-2F3AT Turbine Trackers and two Air Tractor 802 SEATs (Single Engine Air Tankers) were tanking out of the USFS base at Fox Field, about 30 miles south of Mojave. Ironic timing, then, that the fire season hits hard just days before the roll-out of the Scaled/Virgin Galactic WhiteKnightTwo, which Burt Rutan has hinted might find a secondary role as, yup, an Air Tanker!