On Monday 7 December, the growing bushfire crisis over on Fraser Island saw the arrival into the region and at Bundaberg Airport of Coulson Aviation (USA) Boeing B737-300 Large Air Tanker 'Fireliner' N138CG "Bomber 210". It arrived directly from RAAF Base Richmond in New South Wales.
N138CG is based at Richmond along with another Coulson Aviation (USA) Boeing B737-300 Large Air Tanker 'Fireliner' N137CG "Bomber 137" with both having been deployed to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) for the Australian Summer.
While on the way to Bundy, N138CG looked to descend and fly over a fire near Toowoomba where it dropped some 15000 litres of water onto the fire before being photographed soon after its arrival into Bundaberg Airport for a historic first visit.
Soon after, N138CG "Bomber 210" joined the the resident Conair Dash-8-Q400MR C-FFQE "Bomber 141" in departing to Fraser Island to complete water drops. They both returned to Bundaberg Airport to re-fuel and re-load on at least one further occasion.
Both aircraft were supported by the Agair Logistics P/L Cessna 525 CitationJet CJ1 bizjet VH-RMB as "Birddog 123". The smart little Citation had arrived into Bundaberg Airport on Saturday 5 December and looked to replace the fellow Agair Rockwell Turbo Commander 690B VH-LVG "Birddog 273" which departed to Dubbo on Sunday 6 December.
Of interest, N138CG is one of six planned Boeing B737 ‘Fireliner’ air tankers that Coulson Aviation has acquired and will convert. Each B737-300 aircraft was previously operated by Southwest Airlines in the USA with N138CG entering service with Coulson Aviation and being certified in mid-2019 having previously operating as N608SW from 1995 until it was withdrawn from use in 2017.
Meanwhile, other bushfire fighting aircraft and helicopters spotted and noted operating over the Fraser Island bushfire, also on Monday 7 December, included Ayres Thrush S2R-T660 VH-FNV "Bomber 412" of South Burnett Air Services at Dalby which completing many flights from and back to Bundaberg Airport.
Port Macquarie-based R & M Aviation Air Tractor AT-802A 'Fire Boss' VH-IWU "Bomber 716" was spotted back at Bundaberg Airport to refuel before heading back to the fire zone.
Pay's Air Service Air Tractor AT-802A 'Fire Boss' VH-FBX "Bomber 360" was also noted spending time over Fraser Island before eventually landing back at Bundaberg Airport also for fuel.
And Kennedy Aviation / Kennedy Air-Ag Air Tractor AT-802A 'Fire Boss' water bombing aircraft - VH-XAT "Bomber 288" and VH-XAV "Bomber 266" - also looked to be operating over Fraser Island and out of Bundaberg Airport. While Kennedy Aviation (Kennedy Air Services) North American Rockwell 500S VH-XAS "Birddog 444" operated between Bundaberg and Childers while on a flight out of and back to Toowoomba.
Finally, of the helicopters noted over Fraser Island, also on Monday 7 December, Emerald-based Heli Central Williams Helicopter Corp (Bell) UH-1H Huey VH-UHH "Helitak 468" and Elite Helicopters (Brisbane) Aerospatiale AS.350BA Squirrel VH-WMW "Firebird 410" looked to continue to operate from and back to Hervey Bay (Fraser Coast) Airport.
Sincere thanks to Dan B from Dan Beck Photography for allowing us to share these great photos!
All photos taken by Dan B ©
All photos taken by Dan B ©