Science in the Aerial Wildfire Arena
18 May 2022
This presentation will review the history of aerial fire as we currently know it, highlighting the importance of science as it relates to current and future development of safe, effective, efficient technology. Starting in 1919 to the current day, humans have endeavored to develop technologies to combat wildfire from the air. By the mid-1950s the code had been cracked for the rudimentary use of aircraft to combat wildfire. Until about 2007, most fixed wing and many of the rotor wing workhorses were aircraft that were remnants of the military complex. Through the urging of fire agencies and the ingenuity of the private sector, these aircraft were fitted with systems designed to combat wildfire. Standards for their use and specification have been continually developed, advanced, and adopted by various agencies throughout the world. Although current technologies are effective, the efficiency for use and cost of delivery needs to be examined for both effectiveness and safety. The fire aviation community has been requested to evolve and provide more services ranging from autonomous, and night operations to real time ISR and mapping missions. Due to extreme costs of development and certification, much of the current technology being used is outdated, and designed with older generation materials using analog technology. Today’s scientists have at their disposal decades of innovation, computing technology, and new mission sets that the forefathers of aerial fire could never have dreamt, all of which can be tackled and explored by the science community.