Australian Aviation photographer Dave Soda this week took these incredible images showing Erickson Skycrane “Marty’s” first deployment of the bushfire season.
The 53-year-old S-64E was protecting the communities of Mount Cottrell and Truganina, west of Melbourne, from a grassfire that quickly spread across 110 hectares on 13 December.
In total, the aircraft was joined by more than 40 fire tankers to bring the blaze under control, which eventually damaged property and led to one member of the public suffering burns.
Nicknamed Marty, N243AC, msn 64022, has been based at Essendon in Victoria since the start of the fire season. Its previously logged location was in Naxos Island Airport in Greece.
Each fire season, many a variety of Erickson Aircranes often arrive to help the bushfire effort, each with their own nickname, such as Elvis and Gypsy Lady.
In April, Australian Aviation reported on a dramatic ATSB report that revealed how a firefighting crew swam to safety through fuel contaminated water when their Sikorsky S-64E crashed into a dam.
The investigation also detailed how the team weren’t able to see anything underwater, but remembered drills from their helicopter underwater escape training – waiting until the last moment to draw breath and not unbuckling their harnesses until the Skycrane’s movement had ceased.
One crew member sustained a knee injury but the other two were uninjured in the incident that took place on 28 January 2019 at Wood Creek Dam, Victoria.