CH-47 aircrew conduct ‘Bambi Bucket’ training
By Tech. Sgt. Sonny Cohrs, Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs
/ Published March 15, 2007
SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras -- Aircrew from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment, conducted "Bambi Bucket" training with their CH-47 Chinook helicopter March 15.
The 2,000-gallon bucket system is designed to hang from the helicopter, collect water, and disperse the water at the touch of a button over a fire. This unique capability adds to the mission of Joint Task Force-Bravo, allowing U.S. service members stationed here to assist local firefighters with wild fires throughout the region.
The training took place in small body of water along the Rio del Hombre, near the town of Zambrano, Honduras.
"We're doing our qualification for some new pilots, and refresher training for me and another pilot," said Army Chief Warrant Officer Roberto Torres. "We just fly our traffic pattern and the bucket is opened in an area for firefighting," he added.
Once the aircraft is over the target, the bucket is opened by the flight engineer in the back of the aircraft, who observes the entire process through a cargo hook door in the floor. The flight engineer also communicates with the pilot to guide him when landing, loading or dumping water.
Although the system isn't used on a regular basis, the units still train to keep their qualifications current due to the dry climate here and frequent brush fires that may get out of control.
"They had some fires around the northern bay islands here about three years ago," said Army Capt. John Brogan, 1-228th. "We sent two Chinooks. That's one of those things that doesn't happen all the time, but we still train for it. We had a brush fire at the range near here last Spring as well."
One of the biggest advantages of the system for this region, according to the aircrew, is that they're able to access fires in remote regions where traditional fire fighting equipment can't reach.
"A helicopter with a Bambi Bucket is an efficient, independent fire-fighting vehicle. It creates the opportunity to put more water on the fire than any other system at a lesser cost, allowing operators to suppress the fire before it is out of control," according to the manufacturer, SEI Industries.