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tank decreased. This variation in flow due to weight of the water and a resultant hy- drodynamic affect is compensated for in the Erickson tank. A computer calculates air speed information then automatically sets and varies the proper door opening to maintain a variable flow rate of 1 to 8 gal- lons per 100 square feet that is set by the pilot. The overall efficiency of the water drop is enhanced dramatically. Coupled to the tank design is a flexible hose snorkel that allows the tank to be rapidly filled from lakes, reservoirs or even the occasional swimming pool! Also, the tank features a ram scoop hydrofoil or “Sea Snorkel” that skims the water’s surface at 35-40 knots and scoops up to 2,500 gal- lons in as little as 30 seconds.

The Crane Advantage

Erickson Sea Snorkel

through approximately 50% of travel, the trim system automatically accomplishes the correct trim inputs. This eliminates the inputs through the coolie hat resulting in a much more effective and smooth backseat stick control response.

Fire Fighting

The company and the number of Air- cranes slowly grew and by 1994 there were 12 in the fleet with the primary func- tion now beginning to shift to fire fight- ing. Prior to 94 the most hours flown to

Heavy Lift Construction

fight fires was about 300, but for the year 1994, nearly 3,000 hours were flown when the United States Forest Service rec- ognized the fire fighting capability the Aircrane had to offer. The technology breakthrough that changed the primary mission was Erickson’s implementation of an innovative water tank specifically designed for the fire fighting mission. The unique constant flow design allows for an even disbursement of water as the tank empties. Normally water disbursement would vary as the level of water in the

I feel compelled to comment on this based in part on personal experience. A few years ago the state of California was on fire. News clips every night described the fight to put out the fires. Super tankers, water scoopers, P3s and even a 747 water tanker were discussed, but from my perspective the Crane was the hero of the day and got little or no press. Admit- tedly all are needed to put out a fire, but when your neighbor’s house is on fire and you are next, the Crane can save the day as it can drop a whole lot of water with pin point accuracy. I saw two Cranes save my cousin’s house and then maybe 13 more in just a few minutes. The tankers and super tankers just could not accom- plish that mission.

Flying the Crane

So exactly what kind of super pilot gets to fly one of these machines? I asked Randy, “If I were a Robinson pilot, would I find the Aircrane hard to fly?” His re- sponse was that the actual flying is not hard, but from a Robinson pilot’s per- spective, the overall complexity (hy- draulic systems, electrical systems, etc.) would undoubtedly be intimidating, if for no other reason than by the number of cir- cuit breakers and dials on the panel! (See above) So then what are the qualifications required to apply for a pilot position at Er- ickson? The qualifications are tough and as with most piloting jobs stick and rudder skills are superseded by your experience and knowledge base. So here is what Er- ickson looks for in a pilot applicant as a

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