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South Bay Cal Fire Unit Transitions to Black Hawk Helicopter

The South Bay Cal Fire helicopter unit is prepping for fire season with a new weapon: a state-of-the-art $26 million chopper.

The Alma Helitack unit’s twin-engine Black Hawk helicopter is significantly bigger and three times more powerful than the old single-engine Huey helicopters.

“The Black Hawk has really changed the game in firefighting when it comes to the ability to deliver three or four drops in a single tank at a time,” Alma Helitack pilot Clifton Cates said. “I never have to leave my guys on the line unprotected.”

The Black Hawk is also new technology, which provides versatility.

“It’s got the capability to fly in very poor weather, fly at night, fly in some adverse conditions that we’re starting to see on our fire line now,” Cates said.

But that does require more training.

“There’s a lot more systems, computer systems, that we had to learn and then also operating in the emergency procedures capacity as well,” Alma Helitack unit Capt. Sean Ketchum said.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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