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Aircraft and forest fires: Who’s the expert?

Western wildfires have been in the headlines far too much this year. The news has been dominated for months with photos of fires and firefighters and various aircraft dropping water and retardant. Antiquated aircraft in many cases, accident-prone, and too few of them. Replacements needed. Urgently. Yesterday. So in comes the Rand Corporation with a report from an economist recommending one type of new aircraft, while the Forest Service wants a different type. Who do you suppose knows more about what’s needed to fight forest fires? Let’s all watch while Washington makes this difficult decision …


  1. Very interesting, PT. I will indeed watch with interest. I have always admired the clever designs of seaplanes. As far as the decision goes, however, I will be happy however it goes, just so we don’t buy them from China! (Or Russia, for that matter.) 😀

    • I was being sarcastic, of course. The Forest Service’s experience and expertise should prevail, regardless. But once the economists, politicians, and lobbyists get into it, the FS will be lucky to get a pair of Piper Cubs.

  2. Once again – decision by committee – and by those who think they know or want to sell a certain product (no matter if appropriate or not). Surprising anything works or gets done.
    (shaking fist…everyone could have used those planes last year…and the one before that…oh? Need votes out of CO this year? No that couldn’t be why they are considering buying some…)

    • They’ll probably wait till all those old tankers have crashed and another couple of dozen crew members die before they finally get around to it. Then they’ll order the wrong kind of planes from a factory in whichever swing state is the most important to them that year.

  3. Good grief PT, I’ve gotta go with philosophermouseofthehedge on this one. Is there any worse way to make important decisions than the “decision by committee” way? My “heart of the geek” really loves the idea of those “scooper” planes, but my gut tells me that no opinion should be given more weight than the people who actually put their lives on the line using whatever equipment they end up buying. And then of course, there’s the part of me that just gets pissed whenever I hear that someone has the nerve to charge tens of millions of dollars for equipment needed to save human lives!

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