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Spotting MILAN 73

I already wrote an article about the trackers. Now here is the other water bomber based on the Dash 8 Q400. Its capacity is big : it can hold 10t of fire retardants.

The pictures were taken at Cannes during the unfortunate fire that happened at the North of Nice at the beginning of July 2017. Almost half of the french fleet was dedicated to this fire (1 Dash, 6 Trackers and 4 Candairs + 1 Beech for surveillance + helicopters).

For the moment there are only two “MILAN” in France, their callsin is Milan 73 and Milan 74. But the french government has just announced that they will purchase more Dash in order to replace the Firecat Trackers which are getting old.

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Tracking the trackers

In order to fight fires in France, the Sécurité Civile has a big (but old) fleet of 26 airplanes. Among them the most known is the CL415 (popularly called “Canadair” which is in fact the manufacturer). Their callsign is Pelican followed by the number on the tail of the aircraft. During their mission there are usually 2 to 4 of them.

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3 pelicans low pass during and exercice near Cannes

But this article is about the Firecat Trackers who are less known but still effective against wild fires. Initially these aircraft were used on USA aircraft careers so they are very easy to manœuvre which is perfect to fight fires (especially in areas with mountains).

Unlike CL415 they cannot scoop on the water. They have to be refilled on the ground in places called Pelicandrome.

There is one in Cannes that can be seen on this chart :

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It is placed near the threshold of the runway 17 (used more than 90% of the time) so they can take off very quickly.

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Holding points A1 and A2 are used by “normal” aircraft and a Tracker at the Pelicandrome

Their callsign is Tracker followed by the number of their tail. There are 9 of them in the French fleet. They are now based in Nîmes Garons (South of France, roughly between Montpellier and Marseille). In order to gain time (every minute is precious with wild fires), 2 of them will be based in Cannes during this forthcoming summer.

They usually fly by two, in a relatively close formation. They have priority over other aircraft (which makes the situation complicated during heavy load of traffic in Cannes). Each one can carry 3000L of water (usually fire retardants).

They are getting old will be retired in 2020 (initially it was supposed to be 2008). We don’t know yet which one will replace them. But for the moment it is a pleasure to see the professional pilots using their skills in order to save lives !

More about this :

Spotting at Cannes #2

I’m starting to really like my new camera and understand how to use it properly. Here are some shots that I took at Cannes with it during last 3 months.

Most of the pictures were taken using the 55-250 mm STM, except this one :

Thunderstorm at Cannes

La pointe de l’aiguille under lightning

It was at night during a great thunderstorm in the sea that caused a lot of troubles in the air traffic from Nice to Toulon.

Cannes is also a place where there are a lot of interesting machines like this old Fouga (former plane used in the Patrouille de France before they switched to the Alpha Jet).

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There are also a lot helicopters (it represents almost half of the traffic during summer period with a top of 45% during august).

 

The biggest one is the first H175 used for VIP purposes as you can see on this article. The yellow and red EC145 is called Dragon as it is a rescue helicopter based in Cannes.

Calibration

In every French aiport, radio-equipements used by aircraft for instrumental approaches needs to be checked every year (and even more often in some cases).

One of the steps in the process is called in-flight calibration and is done by an ATR42 which is full of sensors (the kind of airplane where you should not use your phone ! 😛 ).

Here are some pictures in Cannes Mandelieu LFMD :

 

More information :

Localizer on Wikipedia

Flight Inspection Wikipedia (should be completed)

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Spotting the Super Blood Moon !

Last night I decided to watch the beautiful moon eclipse. The weather was clear in Toulouse (France) so I tried to photograph it with my Nikon Coolpix L820.
I used a tripod and I used the timer of the camera to avoid to have the blur of me pushing the button. After playing with the modes and settings here are my best shots :

It was very pleasant to watch and also poetic. What we could see was the shadow of our Mother Earth : our own shadow projected thousands of kilometers away.