Flying Above All………….


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I have had a request for a “translated” version of some of my posts.  Rather than do that, I will publish a glossary of terms, and if you have questions, put them in the comment section.  I’ll add to this as time permits…..(some are a bit tongue in cheek….)



SEAT-Single Engine Air Tanker.  Most underutilized of modern wildfire fighting assets.  Flown by the best and brightest of pilots, who are capable of aviation, navigation, and communication even though there is only one seat in the cockpit.  (as opposed to those planes who have multiple people doing the same roles).  Flown by the manliest of men, under the worst of circumstances.


Air Attack-ATGS-the “show boss”.  Orbits above the fire in a twin engine plane, coordinates the aerial assets and ground forces.  Usually is not a pilot, rides in the right seat working numerous radios while the pilot flies.  Almost always started as a firefighter, often a smoke jumper until injuries/arthritis forced him to quit. Rarely satisfied.


Driver/loader-the “ground guy” who takes care of numerous details, loads the plane, drives the truck with trailer (has a mixing tank and fuel tank for the times we operate away from a tanker base).  Indispensable.


SEMG-SEAT base manager.  Usually non-pilot, often from a non-fire background.  Has power second only to God on a SEAT base.  Ensures that policy is not consistent between bases.  Has a strongly identifiable preference for loading SEATs from the right side for reasons that escape normal human logic.


Ramp manager-individual with underpowered handheld radio without whom a SEAT cannot taxi.  Has never taxied an airplane, nor driven anything larger than a Prius.


SEAT base-can be anything from a FEMA trailer to a large, well constructed building housing managers and the occasional pilot.  Most common activity is sleeping and reading.


Fire Traffic Area-FTA-5 mile radius around the fire, cannot enter without permission from Air Attack


Bravo plane-lead plane with ability to manage fire traffic.  Will get down in the dirty with you, lead you over the line they want.  Range is from good to excellent.


LAT-large air tanker…formerly converted military airplanes, now some converted airliners.  Loved by USFS. Paragons of inefficiency and prima donnas.


VLAT-Very Large air tanker…can drop enough water or retardant to cover small cities.  Requires prodigious support system, large airport, custom meals for the pilots, feather beds, etc.


FRDS gate-“Fire Retardant Delivery System”-generation I and II.  Elegant, computer controlled “gate” that controls the flow of retardant out of the hopper of the plane.  Can deliver all 800 gallons in 1.2 seconds if desired, or a smaller amount over a larger area.  Works extraordinarily well, as long as the pilot is smart enough to push the right buttons, and not keep his finger on the button at the wrong time.  The gate varies it’s opening as the load diminishes, ensuring constant flow.


“Full Salvo”-when the full load of retardant is delivered by a wide open gate.  Can be initiated by the pilot intentionally by pushing the “emergency dump” button, or (more often) by a pilot who grips the control stick too harshly for too long, triggering the emergency dump (see above).


Dumb &%*(-what the pilot calls himself after accidentally triggering the emergency salvo.







Author: planedoc

Having survived the medical world for a few decades, I'm pursuing flight, firefighting, wrench turning, and enjoying my family. I have a passion for "warbirds" specifically the P51 and T-6, the Corsair, and do airshows in those planes. I fly "The Mighty 802" fighting wildfires, and have a great time in my SX and Husky. Oh, yeah, I occasionally show up at the hospital and pass gas.

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