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The Bambi Bucket: Evolution of the Most Versatile Aerial Firefighting Tool

Robert L. Roedts(II), Columbia Helicopters Inc.

May 10, 2022

https://doi.org/10.4050/F-0078-2022-17589

Abstract:
From humble beginnings in the 1940s, helicopters have become an integral part of managing and fighting wildfires throughout the world. Starting in the 1950s and over the next several decades, various government agencies increased the utilization of helicopters in their management of wildfires across the US and deployed new technologies. One of the most impactful technologies developed was using a slung bucket to dump water. Initially using repurposed construction and agricultural equipment, these early generation buckets were dipped in sources of water and released using a simple mechanical gate system. In parallel with these early generation buckets, the technique of long-line operations were being perfected that allowed flight crews to increase separation from terrain and increased control of the external load. Over the next several decades, these buckets were steadily improved and incorporated into firefighting operations across the work. In addition, the use of long lines for external loads allowed the use of remote water sources and increased precision water drops. In 1982, Don Arney developed the ubiquitous "Bambi Bucket." This bucket was innovative in many ways: easily scalable, lightweight, collapsible, stowable, and reduced drag. Today, helicopters have become the main aerial resource to fight wildfires across the world. Furthermore, helicopters outfitted with Bambi Buckets account for 90% of all firefighting operations.


The Bambi Bucket: Evolution of the Most Versatile Aerial Firefighting Tool

  • Presented at Forum 78
  • 4 pages
  • SKU # : F-0078-2022-17589
  • Operations

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The Bambi Bucket: Evolution of the Most Versatile Aerial Firefighting Tool

Authors / Details:
Robert L. Roedts(II), Columbia Helicopters Inc.