Last summer, Grant County Sheriff's Marine Patrol officers captured this video of a fire fighting water bomber refilling on the Columbia River just below Vantage. They share it recently on their Facebook page.

The aircraft looks to be a WWII-era PBY Catalina, a widely used 'flying boat' that could land on water, or traditional airfields. This picture is from 1942, showing a formation of these big patrol aircraft.

Due to the need for fast refilling, and often the lack of airports with capability to provide water, these aircraft usually just 'skim' over a large body of water, open the gates and let the stuff rush in. Once they've got enough, the close the doors and take off.

It requires skill by the pilot, as too much downforce on the controls piles you into the water. They also need large lakes or rivers to allow them the distance to do this. This aircraft was filmed by Grant County as this water bomber was going to be heading back to a brush fire July 3, 2017 on the Hanford Reservation.


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