Fire Hawks


CANADIAN: He's been a helicopter pilot for more than 20 years. But after a wildfire in 2006, Jason Abraham's flight plan changed.

"I lost pretty much all the grass on my ranch, and unfortunately had to find some people that were stuck in the fire and didn't make it," said high plains rancher Jason Abraham. "To be able to find that and see how terrible it was to burn up in a grass fire...that's when we kinda started pushing this deal."

Jason started pushing a unique take on fire-fighting, with the man that taught him everything he knows.

"I taught Jason to fly years ago," said Trey Webb, owner of Flap Air Helicopter Service. "He came to me with the idea of getting into a little bit of fire fighting."

Jason and Trey learned the method behind sling loading water onto wildfires, a venture that started with their own land then moved to neighboring counties.

"They called us up and told us what they had, so we thought yeah lets try it out," said Canadian Fire Department Chief Scott Brewster. "You know everyone was kinda worried about it at first."

Their service has since spread like wildfire.

"We started getting requests from some of the fire departments," said Webb. "Some of the fire chiefs started to call and ask for our assistance.

"Our main deal is the volunteer fire departments," said Abraham. "We're really lucky to have such a good fire association with these volunteers."

Whether it's air lifting burn victims to safety, or giving a fire chief a bird's eye view of a blaze, this crew's all about helping volunteers. Help that sometimes comes by way of hundreds of gallons of water.

The fire team is always on the lookout for good water sources, sources that sometimes aren't easy to come by.

"We figured out that with this drought there's no water," said Abraham. "That's when we came up with the trailer."

With an 8 by 8 tank and jet fuel to boot, their specialized trailer can keep the fight going long into the night. This fire team is far more than a two man crew, with a host of friends from Canadian pitching in their time to tote the trailer across the Panhandle.

"Now we have this ground unit that comes in and we can sit there for days on end and just go, go, go," said Abraham.

Going, going, and giving volunteer fire department's a unique perspective, till the job's done.

"We're kind of the eyes in the sky," said Webb. "It's the most demanding flying I think you can do, but it's the most rewarding also."

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