Independent Voices |

Independent Voices

Yes! We send our loved ones off to fight in a dangerous arena with fire. To not assure that it passes safety regulations is failing them in the beginning. With the growing scare of drought I would advise them to get it done right now. How do such “no-brainer” things like safety checks slip by? I have someone very dear to me in Idaho right now rappelling out of helicopters, and I pray that someone is checking the equipment he is risking his life on.

I agree that the planes should be grounded, but only until they are certified as airworthy. The FAA should be given authority to examine the planes to certify their fitness, or unfitness, to fly. Replacement military C-130 planes face the same inspection problem, coming as they do from a military background unregulated by the FAA.

Bombers are needed, as helicopters and small planes generally have less payload capacity or require a body of water to reload, not always convenient in arid parts of the West. While small in numbers compared to all aircraft used to fight fires, bomber effectiveness is undisputed. The Forest Service and FAA need to resolve the certification process as soon as possible.

I guess I would have to say it’s OK to ground the planes temporarily, but if a crisis where to arise such as Storm King, Coal Seam, or any fire of that ilk, by God get ’em in the air and let them do their job. FAA be damned, our ground firefighters and their support crews need all the help they can get, even if it means breakin’ a few rules.

No. Even though three slurry bomber crashes have taken seven lives in 10 years, these 33 planes have flown thousands of life- and property-saving missions. Maneuvering massive aircraft carrying a 13-ton payload of slurry through terrain that often creates its own weather has inherent danger aside from faulty equipment. However, I believe Congress should immediately authorize the FAA to regularly inspect the former military tankers, as they already inspect civilian flights of the same aircraft. In the meantime, let ’em fly … the benefit far outweighs the risk.

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