Oklahoma Guard Pilots Show How Blackhawks Can Help

Saturday, August 6th 2011, 4:22 pm
By: News On 6


TULSA, Oklahoma -- One of the biggest aids for fire crews during the recent outbreak of grass fires has been the Oklahoma National Guard.

On Saturdays, members of the Guard showcased the firefighting capabilities of the UH-60 Blackhawk that is most commonly seen doing water drops on wildfires.

Local fire departments and first responders can request help from the Guard through their county emergency management departments, according to Major Keith Varner, Aviation Operations Officer.

"We try to be as responsive as we can," he said. "If it's a valid mission, and we have the resources to provide, we'll do our dead level best to get out there and fight the fire and help the citizens of Oklahoma."

Varner said the Blackhawk crews used their high speed rescue hoists four times this summer to lift trapped hikers from the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge near Ft. Sill.

Blackhawks can also be used for search and rescue and to help oversee firefighting operations from the sky.