is Coming to AirVenture Erickson Aircrane making first-ever visit
Elvis helps fight
the recent Victoria Fires in Australia.
Elvis drops fire
retardant in Malibu, California.
An aircraft type never seen before at
AirVenture Oshkosh, an Erickson S-64F Aircrane Helitanker, will appear
throughout the weeklong event, July 27-August 2. The heavy-duty, twin-engined
rotorcraft, which many feel is the best aerial firefighting platform
available, is scheduled to arrive mid-day opening day, Monday, July 27,
and be displayed throughout the week on AeroShell Square. The aircraft
hopes to make several water drop demonstrations during the week before
departing on Sunday, August 2.
The particular helicopter that will appear
in Oshkosh, nicknamed "Elvis," has gained "hero"
status for its superior firefighting capabilities, most notably during
catastrophic Australian bushfires in 2000-2001.
"Elvis was stationed at Essedon
Airport in Melbourne since 1998," explained Dennis Hubbard,
Erickson's Aircrane incident response program manager, as well as the
company's history man. "When fires broke out in 2000-2001 in the
Sydney area and burned thousands of homes, it was the biggest machine in
the air and received lots of media attention. Elvis became a national
symbol and helped save more than 1,500 homes."
Elvis' single, well-placed 2,000-gallon
water drop was credited with giving 14 firefighters trapped on a fiery
mountaintop an escape path, saving their lives. "Ever since then, the
Aussies have demanded that Elvis appear, and it led the way with five
other Aircranes in the recent (December 2008-January 2009) Victoria
Fires," Hubbard said.
Dave Barnett is the chief pilot who will
fly Elvis to Oshkosh. "Lots of horsepower, a real brute," he
said in describing its flying qualities. "There's no better flying
firefighting platform. I've flown a lot of aircraft and this is simply the
perfect firefighting tool."
AirVenture attendees will have an
opportunity to see Elvis in action during several water drop demos during
the week. Details will be released as soon as confirmed. The tank holds
2,650 gallons of water or retardant, and a recent study by the U.S. Forest
Service shows it's the most economical firefighting platform on a
price-per-gallon basis, costing 10-15 percent of other aerial platforms.
Two innovative snorkel attachments for the Helitanker take 45 seconds or
less to fill up from any freshwater or saltwater source at least 18 inches
Elvis will be on display on AirVenture's
main showcase, AeroShell Square, and Erickson staff will be on hand to
The aircraft derives from Igor Sikorsky's
last design and was originally built for the military (CH-54). Erickson
Aircrane purchased the type certificate and manufacturing rights in 1992
and began refurbishing military aircraft. There are currently between 35
and 40 Aircranes in service, all converted military CH 54B models. The
company, which employs close to 700 people, is headquartered in Central
Point, Oregon. There are 83 "very experienced" pilots authorized
to fly Aircranes, said H. E. "Mac" McClaren, vice president of
"It's been a dream of mine to attend
Oshkosh one day," Barnett said. "And when coming here was first
mentioned, we were pretty much unanimously in favor of it."
S-64F (Elvis) Specifications Crew: 2 (pilot, co-pilot)
Payload: 25,000 lb (9,072 kg)
Length: 70 ft 3 in (fuselage); 88 ft 9 in rotortip to rotortip
Rotor diameter: 72 ft
Height: 25 ft 5 in
Empty weight: 20,500 lbs
Max takeoff weight: 47,000 lbs
Engines: 2 Pratt & Whitney JFTD12-5A turboshaft engines, each
generating 4,800 shp (shaft horsepower)
Fuel capacity 1,356 U.S. gallons
Maximum speed: 104 kts
Cruise speed: 91 knots (105 mph)
Range: 292 miles
Service ceiling: 14,000 ft
The tank holds 2,650 gallons of water or retardant
How Elvis Got its Name There are two theories describing how Elvis, the star of the Aircrane
fleet, got its name, according to Dennis Hubbard of Erickson Aircrane.
"The first, not-so-interesting version is simply because the airframe
was formerly property of the Tennessee Army National Guard and came from
Memphis," he explained. But the other version - and the one most told
by the folks at Erickson - goes something like this.
"The chief pilot at the time (1993)
ferried the aircraft from Memphis to Central Point (Oregon)," Hubbard
said. "He said it 'shook, rattled and rolled' like, well,
"Shake, Rattle and Roll" was made
famous by Bill Haley and the Comets, so the moniker Elvis came about
regarding Elvis Presley's onstage gyrations.
Besides, it sounds a lot better than Haley.
DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3;
2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30