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Water Bomber Back

Water Bomber Back

Water-Bombing Helicopter Returns To Colac For The Summer

The Otway District will welcome back its resident firefighting helicopter today, when the Coulson Sikorsky S61 returns to the Colac airbase for another summer.

“With the ability to travel at 225 km per hour, the Sikorsky S61 is a game-changer when it comes to battling bushfires,” Emergency Response Aircraft Officer Sandra Robinson said.

“It’s proven to be crucial in stopping the spread of fires, by providing an immediate response in the early stages and supporting firefighters on the ground,” she said.

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Last summer aircraft support played a key role in protecting local communities, assisting ground crews in containing numerous fires near Gellibrand and Carlisle River.

This included a bushfire at Gellibrand’s Boggy Creek in January which burnt through 350 hectares and led to residents evacuating their homes.

As one of the largest firefighting helicopters in Victoria, it will be on call for fires across the Otway District and the rest of the state.

In addition to a 4,000-litre capacity belly tank, the Coulson has a 2,850-litre powerfill bucket that can pick up water from reservoirs and the ocean, removing the need for it to fly long distances back to airbases to reload.

Pilots of the Sikorsky are required to have the aircraft in the air within 15 minutes of a callout to a fire.

A supervisor aircraft that monitors the helicopter’s aerial movements and performance will also arrive today. Both aircraft will be stationed at Colac until March.

The Otway District will also have access to the state’s 50-strong fleet of firefighting aircraft should the need arise over summer.

The fleet includes a mix of water bombing aircraft, air supervision and air intelligence-gathering aircraft.

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