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RAVEN helicopter drops in on convention center
by Dan McGee - For the Tribune
Jul 09, 2012 | 2207 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Dan McGee - Deputy Doug Russell, chief pilot for the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office’s RAVEN helicopter, stands with the craft outside the Reno-Sparks Convention Center on Monday, where it was making an appearance for the Airborne Law Enforcement Association convention.
Tribune/Dan McGee - Deputy Doug Russell, chief pilot for the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office’s RAVEN helicopter, stands with the craft outside the Reno-Sparks Convention Center on Monday, where it was making an appearance for the Airborne Law Enforcement Association convention.
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RENO — One year ago the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office began the process of adapting its RAVEN helicopter so it can fight fires. On Monday, the aircraft, along with chief pilot Deputy Doug Russell, were at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center as part of the Airborne Law Enforcement Association’s meeting.

Asked about the new mission Russell said, “It’s completely different and took a lot of training. But it all came together when the BLM came and said they were impressed.”

He added that the aircraft, on a firefighting mission, is operating at near its gross weight capacity in challenging conditions.

“It’s a real high workload environment and you really have to stay on top of your game,” he said.

The system chosen has a 323-gallon tank attached to the belly of the helicopter and there is a tube used to draw water into the tank. The process takes about 90 seconds but then the pilot is flying with an additional 2,500 pounds of weight.

To make a water drop three electrically controlled doors are opened, which is another challenge since the pilot then has to compensate for a sudden drop in weight.

Right now the RAVEN is carded for fighting fires in areas where the BLM has jurisdiction but not for the U.S. Forest Service. That certification is currently being addressed.

Russell says he expects a very busy summer since the RAVEN has been used on five fires already and more are expected.

Asked about the extra tasks, Russell said, “It’s not about the workload but about the community.”
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