Saturday, July 9, 2011

Water bombers

Yesterday at the Sprayground, the rainbow sprinklers weren’t the only thing we saw that sprays water. A few of these C-130s passed by overhead, painted with Forest Service colors.

Well, my knowledgeable neighbor said they are painted with Forest Service colors, but I couldn’t find anything online to confirm or deny that statement. Why is the paint the most interesting part to me? Do they repaint planes back and forth between regular and forest service markings all summer long? Why do they need to be painted with Forest Service colors in order to fight fires? Wouldn’t the painting time be better spent dropping water on fires?

But I’ll let you ponder those mysteries yourself and return to the story. With all the fires that have been raging in New Mexico, these aircraft have been dropping water and fire retardent non-stop during daylight hours for weeks. Despite their clunky size, they are said to be quite maneuverable and able to pinpoint hard-to-reach fire sections. Two planes were sent from North Carolina and two from California. The California contingent was then replaced by Colorado planes, but the NC craft seem to have stayed on. (North Carolinians are helpful people!) The planes operate out of Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, which is just a few miles from our house. We hope their hard work can end soon, but what a magnificent parade of aircraft it’s been for a little boy!

An Air Force press release states that the C-130s ‘can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than five seconds, drawing lines of containment that can cover an area one-quarter of a mile long by 60 feet wide. Once the load is discharged, the MAFFS system can be refilled in less than 12 minutes.’ How is it that I read firefighter books day in and day out with Luke and I’d never heard of these? I’ll have to write my own fire fighting book for preschoolers! Now what to name the air tanker? Artie?

For those of  you more interested in the foreground of our air tanker scene, I’ll wrap up with a few Sprayground snapshots. There were puddles for stomping,

fountains for tasting,

and tunnels to run through.

Luke had a terrific time exploring the various water dispensing structures. I think his favorite part was holding his fingers over the little holes that spray water. Get it all out of your system there, Luke, so you can stop spraying Mommy with that trick when I wash your hands!

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