Courtney Aviation was proud to be a part of the community event celebrating the history and importance of our airport buried in the heart of gold country. It was a beautiful morning to enjoy food and drinks from our local vendors and learn about all the businesses and social communities that thrive at our own access point to the skies. The thunderstorms showed up in the afternoon and brought an early end to the days event but not before some local wildfires put the CalFire aviation assets to work protecting lives and property.

Columbia Airport was opened in 1934 and was one of the first “Fire Bombing” bases when surplus military aircraft were used to drop water on wildfires. It has one of only two public use grass runways in the state.

Courtney Aviation provides planes for multiple missions in the effort of controlling wildfires across the western US, including a training platform for Air Tactical Group Supervisors, AKA “Air Attack”, as well as an Intel platform equipped with multiple thermal cameras that are capable of seeing the fire location through the smoke and haze, night or day, giving near real time maps to everyone on the ground in order to make the most effective tactical decisions.

We set up a technical demonstration of these thermal cameras and our data link vans that are capable of establishing an 85Mb/s internet connection with a range of 100 miles. This allows us to live stream video to the boots on the ground. We have used this technology to help guide the CalFire Firehawk helicopters during their first nighttime operations, flying with night vision equipment.

There was an abundance of examples around the event to show the sensitivity of the thermal camera between the water fights, tricycle races, paper and foam airplane flight lessons, hot food, cold drinks and all the aircraft activity.