Photo: CHP – Golden Gate Division Air Operations Facebook Page
More than into the teeth of the wind, CHP’s Golden Gate Air Operations is flying into the face of death and has the pictures to prove it.
Giant plumes of smoke have created flying conditions with almost no visibility at the site of the Camp Fire in Butte County, but operations are continuing to help those on the ground. The CHP Golden Gate Air Operations posted photos on its Facebook page on Friday from inside the cockpit of aircraft that showed what what looked like impossible flying conditions.
“It was actually about 5 miles of visibility,” CHP Air Operations spokesperson Shaun Bouyea told SFGATE.
The CHP had eight aircraft on the fire within two hours to help with the planning of evacuation routes and the air-lifting of burn patients to UC Davis, Bouyea said.
He said Cal Fire planes don’t have cameras and don’t fly at night, so the CHP performs this kind inter-agency support as more large-scale fires emerge in Northern California. “We normally don’t fly in fires,” Bouyea said. “It’s becoming more frequent for us do this support for Cal Fire.”
CHP airplanes can stay up for about four hours at a time, while helicopters can last about two hours, Bouyea said. The airplanes are equipped with a terrain warning system are more equipped to fly into low-visibility smoke than the helicopters.
“It’s pretty high-tech,” he said.