New York Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crews conducted water bucket training at Round Lake Monday, July 27. The helicopters, which are based at Albany International Airport, flew out over the lake, hovering to scoop up water, discharging the water over the lake using collapsible Buckets. The maneuver allows the aircrews to train to use the buckets, known by the trademarked name of Bambi Bucket, to extinguish wildfires.

Training took place throughout the day with helicopters rotating out to the training location and back to the airport. Three aircrews of three Soldiers each took part in the training.

The New York Army National Guard aircrews trained jointly with the Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers. The Rangers provided training on the best employment of the aerial firefighting buckets, explaining how the aircrews can assist firefighters on the ground.

The collapsible buckets-called Bambi buckets– are hung underneath the helicopters, and can dump 560 gallons of water on a fire. Each year Army National Guard helicopter crew members and maintenance personnel retrain on how to attach the buckets to Black Hawk helicopters and then practice picking up water and dumping it.

The training is necessary because a bucket full of water weighs over two tons and helicopter pilots need to practice flying with that additional weight hanging under their aircraft in order to fly safely in an emergency.

The helicopters landed at the Round Lake Airport, which is off Route 67 on Airfield Road, to hook up the water buckets as part of the training.

The New York Army National Guard employs helicopter firefighting equipment when local agencies request support through the New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.

New York Army National Guard aircrews based in Rochester, Ronkonkoma, and at the Albany International Airport have also conducted fire bucket training in May and June this year.

The last time the New York Army National Guard was tasked to respond to a forest fire was in July of 2018. Two UH-60 helicopters responded to a fire at the Flat Rock State Forest in Altona, N.Y. which started on July 13. The aircrews dropped 126,000 gallons of water on the 526-acre fire on July 13, 15 and 16, 2018.

This story was originally posted by the New York Army National Guard.