The 43 Group (Grupo) is a unit of the Spanish Air Force (Ejercito del Aire) with the primary mission to collaborate in extinguishing forest fires and participate in supporting secondary missions of Search and Rescue Service (SAR) operationally dependent from the Military Emergency Unit (UME).
To address these missions, the 43 Group has 14 Bombardier CL-215T and 3 CL-415 “Superscooper” aircraft.
[vimeo http://vimeo.com/48642618 w=460&h=259]
The 43 Group has two planes with their crews ready to depart with a very short notice 365 days a year at Torrejón Air Base. However, the Summer Campaign (between June 15 and September 30) is the period when the unit makes the most effort and maintains a minimum of 70% of the aircraft available, with their crews ready to act in any risk areas of the Peninsula and Balearic and Canary Islands.
The firefighting mission is undoubtedly one of the most hazardous for pilots. The flight at very low altitude, the smoke that reduces visibility, winds causing turbulence, the large concentration of aircraft on the same area, the topography of the area is generally abrupt, and the proper fire: these are risk factors that 43 Group crews face and assume through a continuous training plan.
[Read also: U.S. Air Force C-130H plane crashes during a firefighting mission in South Dakota]
So far, the unit has made a total of 133,100 flight hours and has made approximately 305,000 water loads. This year, the 43 Group have tripled their flying hours in the Summer Campaign compared to last year. As of Aug. 20, 1.894 flight hours were made with a total of 5,620 water downloads on fire.
Noteworthy is also the performance on August 11 in which 13 aircraft flew at the same fighting fire in different regions of Spain.
The interesting video, pays tribute to these brave crews and also remembers the fifteen members of this unit who gave their lives in the course of its mission.
“Apaga… y vámonos”
El Lince Analista for TheAviationist.com
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I had the privilege of being Administration Assistant to the developer of the water bomber, J. Knox Hawkshaw. He is a legend in himself – a highly honored man in the profession for 40 years before retiring. Very sharp mind, technical and mechanical and worked tirelessly with his staff of P.Engs. and multi-talented Drafts Persons. It was a pure pleasure in my years there.
Thanks for the article. You can see more videos of the 43 Grupo in YouTube. I highly recommend them.