Photo: Water Bomber CL-415 making drop run

 Photos by Gawain Smart

On, or about July 3, 2005, two of these mean, firefighting machines were battling a blaze in the Cross Lake area. They each dropped onto Portage Bay of Lake Temagami, scooped up 6,137 litres (1,621 US gallons) of water in 12 seconds and continued to the fire where they dropped the wet loads, helping to end the threat to the area.

The CL-415 is the world's only amphibious water bomber. It was designed from the get-go by Canadair of Montreal (today Bombardier Aerospace) and assembled in North Bay to fight forest fires in areas where there are plenty of lakes, so it wouldn't have to return to a landing strip to refill. Sometimes known as the Super Scooper, it can pick up water from a lake as shallow as two metres and bomb on a fire every ten minutes. This bird is so big its 29-metre (94-foot) wingspan has a reach longer than the length of the Aubrey Cosens.

You may have heard the urban legend of the hapless diver who was sucked up through the scoops and dropped onto a fire, where his charred body was found. Impossible as the scoops openings are too small for a human.

A surprised Gawain Smart was reading in his cottage during the first pass. "It couldn't have been more than 100 feet overhead when it came in for a scoop. At first I thought we were under aerial siege from a student pilot, but the plane sounded much larger and louder than your average Beaver. I ran down to the dock. It was quite incredible to see because it created a large water vortex behind it."

The two Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources' bombers returned from the south, banked overhead, dropped onto the lake for the scooping run, lifted, and were gone.

POSTED: JULY 19, 2005      UPDATED: 8.3.05       

Photos: Water Bomber CL-415 scooping water off Lake Temagami



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