Army Guard helicopter crews will do fire bucket training at Hamlin State Park

Posted 19 April 2022 at 12:17 pm

Press Release, NYS Division of Military & Naval Affairs

A New York Army National Guard CH-47 Chinook helicopter dumped 2,000 gallons of water over Lake Ontario using a “Bambi Bucket” near Hamlin in this photo from May 6, 2020. (Army National Guard Photo by Capt. Avery Schneider)

HAMLIN – New York Army National Guard aircrews flying a CH-47F Chinook helicopter will be conducting fire-fighting training over Lake Ontario at Hamlin Beach State Park in Hamlin on Wednesday and Thursday.

The helicopter crews, which are based at the Patriot Way Flight Facility in Rochester, will use specially designed water buckets outfitted for the aircraft, known by the trademarked name of Bambi Bucket, to scoop up 1,500 gallons of water from the lake and practice dropping the water back into the lake at marked points.

The soldiers would use these buckets to fight wildfires if asked by state officials. The aircrews train each spring to be ready for any potential missions.

The training will take place at Hamlin Beach State Park between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. both days. Three aircrews of four soldiers will be trained during the two days.

The Army National Guard Aviation Soldiers will be joined by 12 Department of Environmental Conservation Rangers for the training.

The Rangers will conduct training on firefighting techniques, fire behavior and the terminology firefighters use. They will work with the Soldiers on board the helicopters and on the ground.

The Army National Guard aircrews are from Detachment 1, Company B, 3rd Battalion, 126th Aviation. They operate the CH-47F, the Army’s largest helicopter. It can lift more than 30 Soldiers and carry approximately 28,000 pounds of cargo.

Water will be scooped in a linear flightpath parallel to the shore at a distance of 500-1,000 feet from the shoreline. Buckets will be scooped from deep water to avoid any contact with the lake bottom.

The training is necessary because a bucket full of water weighs approximately 12,500 to  13,000 pounds and helicopter pilots need to practice flying with that additional weight and rapidly losing it when dropping the water in order to fly safely during firefighting operations and in an emergency.

The New York Army National Guard employs helicopter firefighting equipment when requested by state officials. Most firefighting is conducted by New York State Police helicopters.

Aircrew from the Company B, 3rd Battalion, 126th Aviation will also be assisting the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historical Preservation in removing a pontoon from the Niagara River near Goat Island in May.