69Bravo Water Source Training Day

Chinook dropping water during Coulson’s practice day, Oct. 19, 2021, at 69Bravo Helistop. N43CU. @SoCalFirePhoto

Coulson Aviation held a training day this week at the water source called 69Bravo Helistop, the facility located on one of the highest peaks in the Topanga region of the Santa Monica Mountains in southern La California. In the time-lapse video below, taken by @SoCalFirePhoto, you’ll see Chinooks and a Sikorsky S61 repeatedly filling their tanks and coming back for more.

The site has four dive or dive tanks that allow helicopters with external buckets or fixed tanks to quickly fill with water. Buckets are lowered into the tanks, while helicopters equipped with “snorkels” insert a hose with a pump into the water.

In June, the four old 6,000 gallon vinyl/rubber pumps were replaced with new 8,000 gallon metal tanks.

The site also has two pads where helicopters that need to land for refueling can get water from fire hoses to be connected to tanks by on-site firefighters. Or, pilots can land and take a break if necessary.

The facility was built by the very generous landowner and was used with his permission. Several years ago, Los Angeles County arranged to buy the 34-acre property for what would be less than half market value, making payments over a seven-year period ending in 2024.

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