GoPro video of Hughes NH-500 Helicopter During Firefighting Activity

An interesting video filmed with GoPro cameras aboard a Hughes 500 helicopter of the Corpo Forestale dello Stato (CFS, Italian for Forestry Service).

Among the Italian Armed Corps, the Corpo Forestale dello Stato (CFS, Italian for Forestry Service) acts as a police and ranger force, responsible for protecting Italy’s natural and environmental resources and eco-systems. Its duties include the prevention of environmental violations and wildfires, safeguarding animal species, ensuring antipoaching and habitat protection, and providing SAR in mountainous areas.

The CFS has a fleet of helicopters which includes NH-500Ds, AB-412s, Erickson S-64Fs and AW-109Ns used for fire-fighting, early spotting of wildfires, and coordination of other aircraft or with ground-based firefighters.

The Service also owns a P.180 fitted with a forward looking infra-red (FLIR)/TV camera system for ground surveillance in anti-pollution monitoring and geological/wildlife control, which can easily be configured as an air ambulance by means of a medical kit, and can ferry specialized teams or VIPs to various helicopter stations.

In summer, the aircraft are strategically deployed in areas where wildfire risk is higher.

The following video, filmed with GoPros, shows the firefighting activity conducted by CFS Hughes 500 with Bambi Bucket.

H/T Federico Dintignana for the heads-up


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. Interesting all the places he can snitch water from, even that narrow aqueduct. Even kiddie swimming pools aren’t safe.

    I did wonder why he was (alone) in the left seat. I thought copter pilots sat in the right seat. Perhaps the water-drop features are controlled from the left seat.

  2. I believe that research will reveal that when it Hughes built it, the aircraft in question was known as a model 369. McDonnell Douglas bought the Hughes helicopter business in the early 1980’s, particularly for the defense business because Hughes designed and won the attack helicopter competition with the Apache. The aircraft became known as a 500 after MD acquired the company.

    Schweizer acquired the design, drawings, etc. for the model 300, a two seater and popular primary trainer that also flew a lot of traffic reporting mission hours around the US. Sikorsky bought Scweizer a few years ago and now makes the same basic aircraft.

    Boeing bought McDonnell Douglas in the 1990’s, and thereby became the successor owner and builder of the model 369/500. Boeing sold off the MD helicopter business in part about 1999, but retained the defense business with the Apache and certain technology, such as the NOTAR patent. Boeing also retained drawings, equipment, etc. to build the 369/500 Little bird for the defense sector; the buyer apparently had the civil sector.

    MD Helicopters was the carved off legacy of Hughes and MD civil aircraft and was based in AZ. It built its own airframes for composite craft like the Explorer, but had a contract with Thrush, the cropduster builder in GA, to build metal airframes for the MD 500 and 600 platforms. MD Helicopters went broke in the great recession and filed bankruptcy, and a woman named Lynn Tilton in NYC in the private equity racket bought the company. It is apparently in the clear to build and market 369/500 platform aircraft for the defense sector, because it also builds and sells Little Birds.

    • Actually, 369 was an internal company designation inside Hughes (used for OH-6 too).
      It was known as a 500 back when Hughes made them as well, like for example 369HS was officially marketed as 500U (later changed to 500C).

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