Coulson C-130 Demonstration Drop, Centennial Airport, CO (KAPA) - 25-26 March 2014

As each wildfire season in Colorado passes, a new record is set for the size or the structures lost it seems. Senator Steve King has introduced a bill to try to solve this problem, which would call for either Colorado to follow California's model of it's own tanker fleet, or to lease those assets for a season, instead of waiting in-line for the limited Federal Tanker fleet to be available.

A similar bill passed last year, but stalled on the funding front, and the Colorado Firefighting Air Corps was founded. They have authorization to acquire tankers and helicopters.

One private enterprise that could fulfil that second model is Coulson Aviation, and they were invited by Sen. King to perform a demonstration drop at Centennial Airport for the press, legislators and the public.

Coulson's immaculate C-130Q tanker and S-76 helicopter arrived the afternoon before the demo, and it was filled with water by the South Metro Fire Rescue, which is based at the airport, with help from the Jeffco Tanker Base Manager who supplied the necessary step-up hose-couplings to allow the tenders to attach to the aircraft.

Red food dye was added to give the water a more realistic retardant look, but as water is less viscous than retardant, the C-130 began to leave it's mark on the ramp with a few small leaks, so the decision was made to empty the tank and fill it again the following morning.

Luckily the easiest way to empty the tank is to drop it, so the airport staff got an impromptu pre-demo demonstration.

The following morning the Coulson S-76 flew lead, as it would in a real fire, with the C-130Q trailing behind to simulate a wildfire drop.

Afterwards the aircraft were open for tours, and the crew and Coulson's CEO were available for questions.

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[photo/serial list]