First Responders

WATCH: This Super Scooper Skims Across Alaskan Lake To Fight Wildfire

October 14, 2020Matt Fratus
Super Scooper wildland fire Alaska coffee or die

Super Scooper Plane Scoops Water From Skilak Lake to Fight Swan Lake Fire. Screengrab from YouTube.

A US Fish and Wildlife Service officer looks back over her left shoulder to watch a Super Scooper aircraft swoop in low and skim across Skilak Lake. The Swan Lake Fire began in June 2019 and raged for months, burning more than 162,000 acres of land south of Anchorage, Alaska.

Air assets available to wildland firefighters include helicopters using the Bambi Bucket tool to drop water over the flames, C-130 aircraft that deploy streams of red retardant, and these incredible amphibious planes.

The concept of the flying boat amphibious aircraft was born before World War I. Pan American Airways used nine Boeing Model 314 Clipper planes, produced from 1938 to 1941, to fly commercial clients overseas in the height of luxury. Yet in time, the hardened concrete runways built during World War II to enable the transport of both personnel and materiel made the water bombers almost obsolete. Then came Canadair, which developed the CL-215, or “Super Scooper,” in the 1960s.

The Super Scooper today has four water tanks with a total capacity of about 1,620 gallons. Traveling at 100 mph, the aircraft needs 10 to 12 seconds maximum to fill a full payload of water before liftoff. Although rare, the water bombers have existed in rotation since the 1990s and are a great asset to wildfire suppression in the right situations.

Matt Fratus
Matt Fratus

Matt Fratus is a history staff writer for Coffee or Die. He prides himself on uncovering the most fascinating tales of history by sharing them through any means of engaging storytelling. He writes for his micro-blog @LateNightHistory on Instagram, where he shares the story behind the image. He is also the host of the Late Night History podcast. When not writing about history, Matt enjoys volunteering for One More Wave and rooting for Boston sports teams.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
Dear Jack: I'm Retiring From The Military — Help!

In this installment of “Dear Jack,” Marine veteran Jack Mandaville helps a career service member figure out life after retirement.

March 31, 2023Jack Mandaville
navy chaplains suicide prevention
US Navy Deploys More Chaplains For Suicide Prevention

Growing mental health distress in the ranks carries such grave implications that the U.S. chief of n...

March 31, 2023Associated Press
ukraine lessons learned
Opinion & Essay
Nolan Peterson: Lessons From Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

After living in and reporting from Ukraine the last nine years, conflict journalist Nolan Peterson h...

March 30, 2023Nolan Peterson
black hawk crash kentucky
9 Killed In Army Black Hawk Helicopter Crash In Kentucky

Nondice Thurman, a spokesperson for Fort Campbell, said Thursday morning that the deaths happened the previous night in southwestern Kentucky during a routine training mission.

March 30, 2023Associated Press
richard stayskal act military medical malpractice
DOD Denies Most Stayskal Act Malpractice Claims

Master Sgt. Richard Stayskal was diagnosed with lung cancer long after military doctors missed a tum...

March 29, 2023Maggie BenZvi
ukrainian wounded soldiers
‘On Tour In Hell’: Wounded Ukrainian Soldiers Evacuated

With bandaged heads and splinted limbs, the wounded soldiers are stretchered into the waiting medica...

March 27, 2023Associated Press
US oil mission
US Launches Airstrikes in Syria After Drone Kills US Worker

While it’s not the first time the U.S. and Iran have traded airstrikes in Syria, the attack and the ...

March 24, 2023Associated Press
The Gift jason dunham
‘The Gift’ Explores the Life and Legacy of Medal of Honor Recipient Jason Dunham

"The Gift" tells the story of the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor after the Vietnam War. ...

March 24, 2023Mac Caltrider
  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
  • Request a Correction
  • Write for Us
  • General Inquiries
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved