‘Super Scooper’ fire bomber stationed at Lake Tahoe
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Nicknamed the “Super Scooper” for its capacity to scoop and drop large quantities of water on a fire, a Bombardier CL415 aircraft will be stationed at Lake Tahoe Airport for the summer.
The South Lake Tahoe-based aircraft provides the U.S. Forest Service with increased initial attack capability in the Lake Tahoe Basin and surrounding forests, officials said.
“Water scooper tactics support ground-based wildfire suppression by dropping water directly on burning fuel, often with short turnaround times due to proximity of water sources,” USFS officials said in a news release.
The CL415 is turbine-powered, has a normal cruise speed of 180 knots, and can carry up to 1,621 gallons of water.
In an average mission of six nautical miles distance from water to fire, it can complete nine drops within an hour and deliver 14,589 gallons of water.
According to USFS, although water scoopers are fixed-wing aircraft, they are used in much the same way as heavy or medium helicopters.
Typically, they assist during the early stages of burning to drop water directly on the active flanks and head of a fire, knock down slopovers and spot fires and cool down hot spots and fireline.
It takes about 12 seconds to fill the CL415, which then drop water on a fire from a height of about 100-150 feet.
“Stationing the CL415 Super Scooper in the Lake Tahoe Basin recognizes the drought conditions in the Sierra and the high consequences of a severe wildfire in the Lake Tahoe Basin,” Forest Service Fire Management Officer Kit Bailey said in a statement. “We’re pleased to have this aircraft available to further increase our effectiveness in fighting wildland fires in the Lake Tahoe Basin and surrounding forests.”
While its primary use is initial attack of wildland fires, the aircraft can also be used for large wildfire support, according to USFS.