Home NewsAustralia Meet the helicopter pilot who helped save a city’s iconic mountain

Meet the helicopter pilot who helped save a city’s iconic mountain

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Regardless of 21 years of flying expertise and lots of battles, aerial firefighter Dave Leoni nonetheless will get nervous when he is scrambling to get airborne over a blaze.

“You are all the time ready for that decision,” he mentioned.

“You get the decision, and you do not know the place [the fire] is, what’s concerned, the hazards concerned, the individuals in danger.

“You continue to get it, nonetheless have nerves till you are up working and you have assessed the scenario.”

Mr Leoni and his “line” chopper, which carries 1,000 litres of water in a bucket underneath a protracted cable, was simply one of many many firefighters and assist crew that helped comprise the Crater Lakes fire in Mount Gambier last week.

The pilot, who operates the Inexperienced Triangle Hearth Alliance’s just lately acquired B2 Squirrel helicopter out of Casterton in southwest Victoria, was within the air lower than quarter-hour after “the decision” from the Nation Hearth Service (CFS).

Pilot inside helicopter
Dave Leoni within the cockpit of the aerial firefighting equipment.(Equipped: David Leoni)

Working with each CFS and Metropolitan Hearth Service (MFS) crews on the bottom, Mr Leoni flew 87 sorties in eight hours.

He mentioned he was a part of a mixed effort with the B2 helicopter appearing as air assist to the fixed-wing plane that had been honing in on spot fires and ember outbreaks.

“The bombers can undergo and lay a blanket of water,” he mentioned.

“The helicopters can then come via and work with [the bombers] in opposition to any spot fires the place it is attempting to unfold … we will get onto it fairly rapidly.

“And with the 100-foot line, you’ll be able to drop it down in between the bushes and be very correct with a water drop.”

Inexperienced Triangle Hearth Alliance normal supervisor Anthony Walsh mentioned the helicopter’s skill to make use of water sources so near the hearth made it extraordinarily helpful.

Chopper helps firefighters on floor

Mount Gambier residents witnessed this firsthand because the B2 used the Valley Lakes, on the base of the hearth, to refill its bucket.

The Crater Lakes hearth burnt via 50 hectares of land however happily, no accidents or harm to property was reported.

The historic Centenary Tower was not affected by the hearth.

Helicopter sitting on grass near plantations
The B2 Squirrel is stationed in Casterton and is used to guard the area’s forestry property.( Equipped: Inexperienced Triangle Hearth Alliance)

Inexperienced Triangle timber firms purchased the B2 Squirrel to assist its 300 skilled plantation business firefighters.

“This helicopter offers an additional layer of assist to our Forest Business Brigades that work tirelessly over the summer time months to not solely defend our forest property, however to guard our broader communities,” Mr Walsh mentioned.

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