The last of Erickson’s fleet of S-64’s made the short trip from Essendon Fields Airport in Melbourne’s west to the docks in the coastal town of Geelong where they began their stripping down of rotor blades and other parts to make them shipping ready to be transported to their next assignment in Greece. Air Crane “Elsie” was the last aircraft of five to arrive in Geelong after all of the aircraft, managed by Kestrel Aviation in Australia during their fire contracts began the tear down process prior to being loaded on the Greece bound ship.
This year having been one of the most challenging for Erickson crews coming in from the USA, having to factor in enforced COVID quarantines for all staff of two weeks before being able to resume normal operations, unlike previous years, where staff for the helicopters were able to immediately commence work upon arrival.
While some of the aircraft head back home with their crews to their home base in Oregon, other crews will continue to fight fires, rotating to Greece to accent the Greece Fire Service aerial fleet during their summer fire season, while several others will begin contracts around the United States for the US fire season.
Photos and information provided by Dave Sodestrom, Aviation Spotters Online.