Coulson Aviation fighting wildfires on three continents

WatchCoulson Aviation has planes and helicopters fighting wildfires in California, Chile, and Australia becoming the first aviation company to do so at the same time.

A CH-47 helicopter owned by Coulson Aviation in Port Alberni has been fighting wildfires in Chile this week. It’s part of a large fleet of choppers and planes that are fighting fires there, in Australia and Southern California right now.

“It was dispatched originally down to Bolivia to support the rain forest wildfires that they were having down there and then when it ended down in Bolivia we were the first super-heavy helicopter to ever be contracted directly by the Chilean government so we flew it down to Chile and we started down there a couple of days ago and it’s been flying almost every day since,” said Coulson Aviation’s Britt Coulson.

Most of the Coulson aircraft are flying in Australia which is having a particularly bad fire season right now.

“So our aircraft have been front and centre there,” said Coulson. “We did sell one of our 737 Fireliners to the New South Wales government so that marked the first time a government has ever bought their own large air tanker so it’s been running since September 1st. It’s been extremely busy.”

At the company’s headquarters in Port Alberni, two more CH-47 Chinooks are being retrofitted. They’re former US Army choppers getting a new life with Coulson to fight fires.

“The ramp at the back will go down and the tank will roll up into the aircraft just like the C-130 does,” explained Coulson.

Coulson Aviation does not have a firefighting contract in British Columbia and the company says it’s being shut out applying but it is finding plenty of work elsewhere around the world.

“The fires continue to be more intense and are happening either earlier into the season, later on in the season or all year round and so we’re seeing Chile, for example, has had fires this year two months earlier than what they normally see.”

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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