April 16, 2011: Recently I became a Cal Fire Volunteer and was fortunate to be invited to photograph a joint Cal Fire, Army, and Air Guard training at the Cal Fire Academy near Ione, California. I want to give a big thanks to Wes Schultz, a photographer, retired firefighter, and fellow Cal Fire Volunteer, for helping to make this opportunity possible. The training centered around Guard helicopters practicing water drops for the upcoming fire season under Cal Fire direction. The most exciting part of the day for me was my first flight in a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. I got to ride in the gunnerâ€™s seat on the right side. Wow, what fun! First, we chased a CH-47 Chinook around. The following image is of the Chinook making a drop with Lake Pardee in the background. If you would like to see more photographs just click here to go to my Photoshelter gallery.
Being able to hover near this UH-60 Black Hawk while they dip the bucket in the lake made an interesting image.Â The wave effect and the rainbow were cool.Â During the fire season you just donâ€™t get this close.Â Safety comes first during active missions so even if you have a helicopter you need to steer clear of the drop zone.
While we were hovering to make our images, I photographed this army sergeant watching the activities.Â He was sitting in the big seat in the back so Wes and I could use the gunnerâ€™s seat to photograph from.
I’m also excitedly awaiting the next issue of Grizzly News Magazine, a monthly publication of the California National Guard, which will publish some of these images. Â I’ll be sure to share the final product as soon as it comes out.