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Colorado Wild Fire. How do they direct aircraft in the area?

Multiple aircraft in the area including helicopters, small and C-130's! How do they control the air traffic in a local area below 3000 feet? I would seem that this volume of air traffic would need some form of ATC! ( Más...

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Toby is correct,but to explain more,well im not so sure about the forest service..but CalFire runs their fires this way.."air attack" flying a NAA OV-10 Bronco,will move into the fire area and first make sure the area is clear of all civilain aircraft by both making calls on local air to air channels and through local ATC,this is the pilots job as he is flying a circular pattern in a clock wise direction at a low level,appox 1000" to 1500" above the fire AGL,the Air Attack officer in the back seat is now talking to the battalion chief on the ground doing a size up,by this time,the two Grumman S2T tracker air tankers have arrived and they will fly a counter clock wise pattern above the OV-10 until they are certin they will make drops on the fire,once they know they will drop,the OV-10 and the S2T's change altitudes and the OV-10s are above,and they direct the S2Ts to the flanks of the fire verbally.
the USFS has vertually the same set up..BUT on a LARGE fire like the ones in CO,they may have a "lead Plane" which can be anything from a beach barron to a beach C90 or anything else with "escape power" this time,the air attack plane will mostly leave the lead plane alone to pick his targets and the air attack wil concintrate on getting the tankers lined up behind the lead,ive personally seen seven heavys including P3s,C-130s,P2vs and S2ts all in a line behind the lead ..the lead will trail smoke,over where the first tanker is to begin his or her drop,then the following tankers will "tag" on to the "retardant line" and continue it until they have a nice long line of mud.
when this parade is done..they are then told to "load and return" and they do it all the men time..the helos do there thing,,which again is all very well orchistrated as well.
joel wiley 2
And appreciated by all and sundry (except for the inevitable few). Thanks for the info- that went toward answering my question. I've seen TFRs posted on some of the bigger fires, does CDF er CalFire request those?
Toby Sharp 1
David. Thanks for your info. Just a thought.....I know it is a completely different animal.....but how similar is this operation to that of a ground attack unit? old Stukha squadron or something. Kinda cool to think about! Have a great day Sir.
joel wiley 1
I have the same question. A google search on "Air tactical group" found a number of sites, including the two below:,d.cGE
Non Aviation fire related site for fires under federal jurisdiction:
Toby Sharp 1
They have spotters....smaller twin aircraft that fly in ahead of the water bombers and even clearly mark drop zones for them.


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