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Firefighting / USFS & Forestry Tactics Training

This course is designed to introduce and train to an evaluation standard the commercially rated pilot that has met or is close to the flight hour requirements of the USFS/DOI. Knowledge of wild land firefighting and proficiency within wild land firefighting tactics and missions gives a pilot a head start for a professional approach to operating safely, efficiently, effectively with respect to all USDA/USDI special missions in this highly competitive community. Previous experience in VR and/or external load operations is required or can be added to this course.

The Ground and Flight portions of the syllabus will take the student from the beginning planning stages of the mission which will include performance planning for the specific mission flight environment utilizing a “load calculation” form designed for Heli Aviation and similar to the USFS 5700-17. The pre-flight process will begin with the aircraft being utilized for the mission and will progress to the equipment required for the mission including lines, water-buckets, nets, swivels, and all gear required to complete the mission. The flight phase begins from takeoff with an external load progressing to the reconnaissance phase of the mission to include the approach and departure routes for a safe water pickup-/ and delivery. Power management, decision making, and risk mitigation will be stressed during each phase of flight. Initial Attack tactics will include water dropping techniques to communication with ground personnel. Safety concerns and proper decision making will be at the forefront of each pass. An understanding of fire behavior has been identified by the government as an important piece of the pie for a successful Initial Attack pilot and throughout the ground academic portion of the course the student will be introduced and trained to government initial entry standards.

Each student will advance throughout the curriculum at a pace that is challenging but not overwhelming. With the successful completion of the course, the student will have been trained to a completion standard which will meet or exceed the government agency’s requirements in preparation for eligibility as a candidate for Fire Suppression and Water Dropping missions.

Heli Aviation will utilize a Bell 206 L-3 Long Ranger or MD500D, that is currently maintained under FAR 135/133 maintenance standards and is also carded for USFS/DOI operations.


Hold at least a Commercial Rotorcraft Rating.
Able to read, speak & understand the English language.
Hold at least a 3rd Class Medical.
Weight does not exceed 265lbs.

500+ hrs Total Time in Helicopter
10+ hrs Turbine Experience
Vertical Reference / External-Load Experience


5 hrs Dual Training Bell 206 L-3 or MD500D
5 hrs Utility Equipment Charter
2 hrs Ground Instruction


Receives an Advanced Training Completion Endorsement from an authorized Instructor.


Start your training at any time.
Estimated Duration: 2 to 3 days.


$5,600 USD
Pay as you go, NO upfront payments.