ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – A plane known all over the world for its fighting abilities has now made its way to Abilene. It will be at Abilene Aero, ready to respond to fire calls across the state. Coulson Aviation, the company that owns the aircraft, works year-round fighting fires in Texas, across the nation, and all over the world.
Texas A&M Forrest Service Public Information Officer Stuart Morris said hot and dry conditions have taken a toll on green landscapes, turning it into the perfect fuel for wildfires.
“Once our fuels or vegetation starts to reach that critical threshold, it’s very common for fires to, you know, very easy for them to start and become very resistant to control,” shared Morris.
While crews tackle the flames from the ground, the arrival of the C-130Q Hercules lifts a little bit of weight off their shoulders.
“Very active fires are extremely dangerous for ground resources… So getting that knocked down where they can get in there safely and actually put containment line around that fire is, you know, when we have that, it’s great,” expressed Morris.
Coulson Aviation Pilot Todd Davis is no stranger to these planes.
“I enlisted in the military when I directly got out of high school and flew in the back of a C-130 for about eight years and then transitioned to a pilot in the military, and obviously with my time with Coulson,” added Davis.
Davis said the air and ground crew work closely together to help tame the flames. He added that the aircrew is a team of two pilots and an engineer.
“The C-130 is probably one of the best air tankers in my opinion, not just because I fly it, but it’s kind of designed for carrying heavy weight low to the ground and low air speeds,” shared Davis.
Once they receive an emergency call, they quickly load the retardant and take off.
“The retardant takes the oxygen out of the actual fuel and actually has components of fertilizer within it as well, so it helps the growth in the future,” shared Davis.
The distribution of the retardant on the flames helps the Texas A&M Forrest service distribute its resources across the state.
“For us, whenever we’re able to have an aircraft on site, it really increases our capacity to be able to fight these wildfires, especially in hot and dry conditions. When there’s a lot of wind-driven fire activity,” said Morris.
Morris said living in the Big Country; it’s hot and dry. He wants to remind people to take precautions to prevent fires.
“If you’re pulling a trailer or anything like that, make sure your chain is pulled up. Roadside starts are probably one of the biggest things we see, and so you know, make sure your vehicle is in working order. Make sure you’re not dragging anything that can cause a spark,” added Morris.
It’s unclear how long the C-130Q will be in Abilene as crews travel where there is a higher need, but crews are constantly working to keep residents of the Big County safe.