Helicopter Firefighting Qualification Using Angostura Reservoir


Courtesy file photo

      People in the Southern Hills and possibly even in Nebraska and Wyoming near the South Dakota state line may see a lot more helicopter activity than usual today from 9:00-3:00..

     That’s because the South Dakota Wildland Fire Division is using Angostura Reservoir for the annual fire aviation certification at Angostura Reservoir for the South Dakota National Guard Aviation Unit.

       The certification is required by the U-S Depts of Agriculture and Interior before they will allow the National Guard’s Black Hawk helicopters to respond to wildland fires on federal land.

       The Wildland Fire Division recently moved from the state Ag Department to the Dept of Public Safety, and Public Safety Secretary Craig Price says the certification exercise “is a great way to practice what is an important partnership.. 

       Price says helicopters are becoming a more and more important resource in fighting a variety of wildland fires.

        As part of the certification process, crews are tested on fire aviation procedures which include dipping water from a source with buckets below the helicopters. It also provides live training for ground personnel.

       The choppers will be dipping water buckets into the reservoir near the dam and the Cheyenne River inlet, so recreational users on the west side of Angostura in the Shepp’s Canyon area are being used to use caution.

     The Hot Springs Airport is being used as a heliport and other airport users are being advised to be alert for National Guard helicopters coming and going.