Social & Domestic Issues

Contract Dispute Grounds Firefighting Planes

Nearly half of the federal government’s firefighting air tankers are siting idle at a California airport, grounded by the Obama administration in a contract dispute just weeks before wildfires swept through Texas killing a mother and her child, and destroying 100,000 acres.

The massive blazes forced Texas Gov. and Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry to abruptly call off a campaign appearance in South Carolina earlier this week to respond to the crisis, and may force him to cancel his first debate appearance Wednesday night.

The U.S. Forest Service terminated the contract with Aero Union five weeks ago to operate seven P-3 Orions that are critical to the agency’s firefighting mission, leaving the federal government with 11 tankers under contract to help battle more than 50 large uncontained wildfires now burning nationwide.

That’s down from 40 tankers used by the Forest Service just a decade ago, according to Rep. Dan Lungren (R.-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Administration, who is challenging the decision to dismiss the largest provider of heavy air-tanker support to the federal government.

“We were certified to fly all season, but they just terminated us and threw 60 people out of work and left the country vulnerable to fires, as you can see right now in Texas,” said Britt Gourley, CEO for Aero Union.

“This is our 50th anniversary fighting fires for the Forest Service.  It’s not quite the way we wanted to celebrate it,” Gourley said.

Gourley said the government did not provide details on why the contract was canceled, but that they did not agree with Aero Union’s 15-year maintenance plan.

“We wanted to sit down with them and ask why it was canceled and find a quick resolution, but they didn’t want to talk about it.  They just said, ‘We don’t want the airplanes, have a nice life,’ ” Gourley said.  “I had to let go of my staff–60 people and their families were devastated,” Gourley said.  “It’s really been tragic.”

The Forest Service says it will not use aircraft that does not meet its requirements, and in this case that included the long-term airworthiness inspection program, although the company passed its annual inspection.

“Our main priority is protecting and saving lives, and we can’t in good conscience maintain an aviation contract where we feel lives may be put at risk due to inadequate safety practices,” said Tom Harbour, director of the Forest Services fire and aviation management program.

“This contract termination notwithstanding, we possess the aircraft support needed for this year’s fire season,” Harbour said.

In a letter to the administration questioning the canceled contracts that was obtained by HUMAN EVENTS, Lungren said the aircraft “are some of the best available for fighting fires in the United States.”

“The [Federal Aviation Administration] representative stated that the disrupted contract issues which led to the grounding of Aero Union’s entire fleet do not relate to the suitability of these aircraft to perform for the remainder of this fire season,” Lungren said in the Aug. 15 letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, whose agency oversees the Forest Service.

“I am deeply troubled by the Forest Service’s sudden action, particularly as California enters into the fire season.  Our aerial firefighting fleet is already seriously undercapitalized,” Lungren said.

In addition to the 11 tankers in the fleet still operating, two air tankers are under contract to operate on-call, and up to eight military firefighting aircraft can be called to assist if needed.

Aero Union operated six Lockheed P-3 Orions, and was preparing to add a seventh to the fleet when the contract was canceled.  The four-engine turboprops were originally used as anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft that were built for the U.S. Navy.

Ultimately, those aircraft will be replaced with two-engine CV 580s from Canada, which Lungren said is “worrisome” because those aircraft will carry a smaller load of fuel-retardant and require more downtime.

Despite the contract cancellation, Gourley told HUMAN EVENTS he has reached out to his former employees and that they could have four planes up in 48 hours to fly to Texas’ rescue, and assist in other devastating fires burning in California.

“First and foremost, we are firefighters at Aero Union, and we do not want to sit idle while the people of Texas and California suffer,” Gourley said in a letter Tuesday to Harbour.

“We feel strongly that a contract disagreement unrelated to the safety of our fleet to fight fires should not stand in the way of our mission at a time when these aircraft are most needed.  The tragic scenes in Texas and California make any contract issues appear very secondary,” Gourley said.

Perry toured the devastation near Austin on Tuesday and viewed some of the homes destroyed by the flames.

“These fires are serious and widespread, and as mean as I have ever seen, burning more than 1,000 homes since this wildfire season began,” Perry said.

“Texas appreciates the resources and support we continue to receive from across the state and across the country to fight these fires, and the efforts of the brave men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to protect Texans’ lives and property.  Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are impacted by these fires,” Perry said.

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  • jdonnely

    But the FAA did find that Aero Union had not fully complied with a mandatory structural inspection program, according to Ian Gregor, public affairs manager for the FAA Pacific Division.

    While it’s not clear whether Aero Union remains out of compliance
    with the FAA program, Gregor said in an email that “Aero Union has not
    presented any evidence that its aircraft are in compliance with their
    inspection program.”

    “Anyone who operates an aircraft in violation of FAA regulations can face stiff sanctions,” he added.

  • EllenK

    Didn’t something like this happen with the Obama administration in the Gulf of Mexico, where dozens of clean-up ships were prevented for days from deploying to clean up the oil because they didn’t pass some minor safety inspection by the Coast Guard because they might not have enough bottled water or something, , instead of letting them go and then bringing them any additional bottled water or medical kits as needed.  My mind is a little  fuzzy on the details, but this seems to be the MO of this incompetent administration.

  • A_Proud_Infidel

    1. They’re non-union.

    2. They’re not big DNC donors.

    And that just about guarantees a shutdown by the 0bama administration, just ask any of the Gibson guitar employees!

  • HollywoodHick

    If Texans find out that the Feds cancelled these planes without reason, it will not be pretty.

  • AgTrotter

    Elk, I believe I speak for many Texans when I ask you to GFY! You are a vile creature whose hatred of most things clouds your minimal thought process.

    BTW, if the federal government intends to have a Forestry Service, is it too much to ask that they actually operate it properly?

  • Martin Hale

    Amazing!  I lived in Oceanside, CA for five years and know that we are just approaching peak wildfire season there.  I can’t imagine that this is the time of year that the government decided to get pissy over the contract.  Waiting a couple of months until peak season is over would have made so much more sense.

    But then again, you can never accuse the government, especially this particular administration of making sense, can you?

  • thinker694

    Non-union?  No hefty campaign contribution?  You’re out-of-here.

    Obama has turned every agency into a litmus tester for campaign contributions and union membership.Chicago politics at its best. 

  • Guest

    “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.
    When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns, as it were, instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.”
    ~ George Orwell  —–

  • tdrag

    Don’t worry Martin Hale, The Peoples Republic of California will have all the fire fighting planes etc. they will need. After all, they are staunch supporters of Comrade Obama and HIS new America. Rick Perry made the mistake of dissing Comrade 0 and then running against him for POTUS. Now Texas will pay the price.

  • Reader11722

    Gov’t fighting contract disputes as Texas burns, yet another violation of our rights. Add it to the list of gov’t violations of our rights:They violate the 1st Amendment by placing protesters in cages, banning books like “America Deceived II” and censoring the internet.
    They violate the 2nd Amendment by confiscating guns.
    They violate the 4th and 5th Amendment by molesting airline passengers.
    They violate the entire Constitution by starting undeclared wars for foreign countries.
    Impeach Obama, vote for Ron Paul.
    (Last link of Banned Book):

  • porchhound

    Ag you don’t speak for me and I am a former Marine and ultra conservative.  In THIS instance Perry was WRONG in cutting funding to our volunteer fire departments.  I live in an area of Texas, like so many, that has to rely on volunteer fire fighters.  When I was younger I WAS a volunteer fire fighter.  I have two sons who are “paid” fire fighters.  One son works for the USFS and can testify to the absolute shortsightedness of the USFS bureaucracy .

    If Elk had stayed with his original argument he would have been better off…but he WAS right about the funding cut.

  • porchhound

    We will pay TWICE if Perry manages to slither into office.  He is OPEN BORDERS, a GOVERNMENT LAND THIEF (see Trans Texas Corridor).  He is for a HUGE GUEST WORKER PROGRAM and against a WALL or the Az immigration enforcement law.  In short, his old boss…Al Gore LOVES him!

  • telesc0pe

    Check out the 2009 Quadrennial Fire Review. Tom Harbour needs to make his predictions come true.

  • Dustoff

    Care to post this info?   

  • Dustoff

    Post the info please.   Right now all we have is hear say

  • Dustoff

    Yet we also know the FAA loves to play games. 

  • Michael T Lyster

    Nobody needs racist nonsense like this. Oh, and it has nothing to do with the original string.

  • kahnavka

    Quark Too, if you had one more brain cell it would be lonely. Idiot!

  • WhyMeLord

    I noted in a previous response the problems with the foreign vessels was the dispersant they intended to use.  Legal (but unwise non the less) alternative were available yet the foreign vessels chose, for a number of reasons, not to employ those. (hint it had to do with expense)

    The missing equipment that was STANDARD Coast Guard REQUIRED equipment and if anyone really wanted the equipment on the job the equipment could have been obtained from a number of vendors.  Last I was in the area that included Wal Mart.

    I would venture the lack of interest in securing the equipment had more to do with political games. (I grew up in Louisiana and my family goes waaaay back in the politics of the area)

    Keep in mind the problems were generated by industry (BP) skating on standard industry wide best practice safety procedure/equipment. 

    I’m curious what would you say to the family members of those lost because of the lack of safety equipment?  To give yourself some practice what would you put in a note to the families of the 11 that died?  Here’s a hint:  “Sorry to inform you your husband, brother, son was killed in an unfortunate accident that was the result of someone trying to save a bunch of money on safety”.

    Fact remains: safety is one of the first things to go when budgets get tight.  The second is common sense in trying to fix the lack of the first with more stupid actions based on a state of emergency.

  • lee4

    Only 10% of illegals work in agriculture.  The rest are in construction, lawn care, tree service, etc.  Stopping all illegal immigration will not harm agriculture.  Farmers and ranchers will have to start paying a decent wage for Americans to do the job.  Much of the cost of farming could be reduced by drilling for oil in the US.  Once we state that we are going to start drilling, oil prices world-wide would drop to $20 a barrel.

  • llcthecableguy

    Except that doesn’t effect this fire season.  Certainly I imagine that this decision will be revisited ;)

  • Colonelggs

    What do you expect from a Marxist wacko. Revenge is his style. Chicago politics in action.
    Retribution is an awful thing. Will he ever change; maybe when Leopards change spots.Texans are not a priority to this fool Lord Obama. The inmates are in charge of the institution. 

  • Walter Hefty Jr

    Answer his question, numbnuts.



  • Walter Hefty Jr

    What part of provide a source was difficult to understand?

    Link, or GTFO.


  • Yukiko

    Read the article entire article, genius. It is not a money problem. The problem is the Forest Service doesn’t like the maintenance schedule that Aero Union has set up. The underlying problem most likely is the Obama administration’s dislike for Texas and Governor Perry.

  • jimmymac1

    rebelyell4 you hit it out of the park. This obamanation is about one thing only and that is the distruction of the US, as proud Americans know it. He believes that we are the major problem of the world and wants to redistribute our wealth and knowledge to all who have suffered at our hands.
    In case people have forgotten we have 350 million cars and trucks in the US they run on petroleum products and are not going away any time soon. The bulk of our energy comes from coal which the EPA has just about put out of business. I am all for keeping our earth as clean as we can “God” gave it to us and we are responsible for it. But this is a growth issue as we grow we learn more and implement what we know but we must do it responsibly you cannot just say we want windmills and solar panels and force it to happen overnite the so called green enery sources are not capable of supporting our needs.
    We all know that this is really about the distruction of America and we can talk all day and cite all the examples lord knows there are enough of them, and they are all purposeful and intentional. Now what are we going to do about it ?
    If you look at the agriculture industry, all of the family farms have been run out of business. Let me ask you all what will you do the first time the trucks do not show up at the Supermarket. What will you all do the first time the trucks do not show up at the gas station. What will you all do the first time the power goes out for good. What will you all do when the water starts to run out. You think it cant happen why do you think that T Boone Pickens is buying up all of the land over the water tables? When the water canal was built down I5 in Calif it was to supply water to small farmer’s that had 160 acre parcels of land. They were all run out of business and now all you see is large corporate farms using water supplied by the taxpayers. Can you not see a problem when all of the oranges come from only Fla. All of the vegtables come only from Calif, and all of the corn only from Iowa. And all of these things come from only a couple of companys. Talk about losing ones freedom and rights hell we have given all of our rights away, like the old saying you trade a doughnut for a sack of flour.
    Look what happend in Calif when the goverment shut off the water to the ag area in the middle of the state because of a smelt. There is 40% unemployment loss of food crops, food prices going through the roof, gas prices at 4.00 a gallon, energy going up up up,we allowed this to happen because we allowed all of our sources for the things we need to stay alive to be concentrated in small areas that could easily be controlled by someone else.
    Listen I am not an alarmist and I am certainly not chicken little, but it does not take much to really see we are heading for a real hurting. We have allowed 547 people to dictate how, what, when, and where to 350 million people I ask why? and now 12 people are going to decide where and how all of our money will be spent and on what! give me a freakin break.
    California is 21 billion in debt and admits that 11 billion is due to illegals in the state. That probably means that the whole 21 billion is due to illegals. What is done about  it ? well  provide more of the same and ask all of the workers to take a pay cut, and not retire until you die and to give up all that you have worked for, and oh by the way blame it on a Republican.
    Here is my position I am a Christian I will have a Cross and no it is not coming down! You have the right to be an athiest, you also have the right to kiss my ass. I am not a muslim and will not live by those rules you will live by mine in my country, and if you dont want to give me a cab ride because I have a bottle of wine then you will lose your cab and maybe a big hunk of your ass, this is my country. And for the rest of you clowns mow you own lawn, having a mexican gardner is not a right. And as far as those jobs Americans do not want to do you all remember them, thats why your kids are all f…ed up. As parents you suck and thats why the state has even taken that right from you.
    My father fought in WWII, Korea, and was in Nam while I was there, my son was in Kuwait, my brother was a Police officer my brother inlaw was a sheriff.
    Why did we do it because we are American’s and we believe in FREEDOM we are not commies or socialists, and we fought to keep those failed systems from our shores it is that simple. I do not care what color you are you are welcome here to be an American and to live as we do. If you dont like it  dont come, or else leave what ever suits you. Yes I am white and I do not owe anybody shit, if you do not want to work you have the right to starve to death, and I wont stand in your way.
    I have never been an inpediment to anyone achieveing their goals, that way when you fail we will all know why wont we. I believe that we need to provide jobs to all of our citizens who can work, and to no one else unless we want to. It is up to you to decide what your job and skill level will be. We are all on different levels at various times in our lives and are not all entitled to the same things at the same time. Life is about learning and growth, and I believe that even if you believe that organized religion is the gruelest hoax ever purpetrated on mankind it is still not a bad way to live.
    Now it is up to you all, either stand together or just lay down you have to decide.

  • Yukiko

    Flagged as spam. Go peddle your crap elsewhere. I think daily kos and huffpost will enjoy your spam.

  • Frederick Strobel

    No doubt George ‘W’ Bush’s fault too.

    Go figure.

    “We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality” – Ayn Rand

  • Leroy_Whitby

    Everywhere I look it’s crap with Perry. Every time I look at any issue and dig it is pure crap Dustoff. I’ve got to the point where I don’t want to be challenged in posts because then I have to look up more bad stuff about Perry. And it is always there. Doesn’t matter the issue. Spending, debt, corporations, fires, it’s always bad. The guy is poison for national politics. Fine for TX sort of except half the state is burning now and govt. size has doubled in 10 years. 

  • Walter Hefty Jr

    Not only to echo Dustoff here, turd, but I thought I’d let you in on a little something.

    It’s called a Red Herring. “Bush’s FEMA got over 1800 people killed” has NOTHING to do with this discussion. Nor does Halliburton or KBR.

    Now see yourself out like the good little stooge we all know you are.

  • frank907

    The ships that were denied were boom and skimmer technology, no dispersants involved.

    The super on the rig was forced by a bean counter to use sea water instead of drilling mud to save something like $75K a day. Early news reports stated he called ashore after the initial fire and explosion to inquire if the bean counter was happy. ( I understand his use of language was somewhat colorful) Apparently the super disagreed with the deviation, considering it unsafe. After the first day I never heard or read a peep about it again. But maybe it was just an oversight, who who think that the media would manage the news?

  • FireMall

       Crawl out of the Liberal’s box and consider “Who’ will benefit the most by Perry Not being on the Campaign trial . 
        And also; Do Not assume I like Perry. Just as anyone with half the intelligence of a pizzant can assume that I think more of Obama. 

  • FireMall

       If some want to add 2+2 in this deal , I think some might see something
    they wish they didn’t see.

          It’s obvious that Obama wanted to destroy British Petro. by making the
    spill a hundred times more horrendous . Period. I.E. Covert Gov  Control of the
    nation’s economy & fuel.

        Now: Hasn’t anyone wondered how 60+ fires just happened to start at the
    same time in Texas & California ?

        Imo: Obama & Gang are in trouble and have no way out of the mess that
    the Internet has brought to the forefront of the Public’s attention.

           The Socialist sure can’t campaign on their record so they will
    campaign on what Perry couldn’t do in fighting the fires & blame the
    failures on Perry for cutting the Texas firefighting budjet. Just wait &

        I’ll just go ahead and say what  might be obvious to some here. 

         These Texas Fires did not “ALL” start  simultaneously by an act of
    Mother Nature.

        So: Who Did Request that Texas get all tied up with the Fires  and cause
    Obama’s competition to postpone the next Factual Diss of a POS POTUS ?/??

        Do some here really think that there are no accidents while assuming the
    fires are just meer coincidences that  caused Perry  to cancel his campaign
    speeches when it was reported that “He” would be firing even  more educational
    &  disparaging shots over Obama’s head.


        Some may choose to accuse me of being a conspiracy freak. Fine , I’ve
    been called woprse things by better folks , but History “Will” show  the same is
    occurring today, in America, as  it happened when Hitler & Stalin were 
    bringing their nation down &  into Socialism. And quite a few Conspiracy
    Freaks like me were sounding the alarm back then too. 

  • bkw140

    Yeah, the missing “standard” equipment is just a way of keeping the clean up business in the hands of those politically connected unions.  International standards, which those ships operated under are never good enough if a political payoff is to be made.  And by your reasoning.  The Administration is guilty of the death of government employees when they knowingly allowed the purchase of weapons by known Mexican drug cartel members.  I guess “safety” is just a convenient way of justifying your corruption.

  • BobGuy

    Obama is a friend of Hoffa… Any questions?

  • Gerald Sain

    If you give a monkey a bicycle, he’ll think it’s a Harley, same with O’bama…You give O’bama a foot and he ”’has”’ taken a ”’mile”’…O’bama is a thief, but if we don’t do something quick, he is going to get away with ”’murder”’

  • WhyMeLord

    The legislartion on vessles operating in US waters has to do with cargo transported between US ports and nothing to do with the issue of vessel working oil recovery.  If memory serves it’s called the Jones Act.

  • bkw140

    You idiots will find fault with Jesus Christ heading the second coming.  Keep up the imbecile attacks and keep supporting and voting for the Obammurs second term like you are doing now.  It has worked out so well for this country. 

  • Walter Hefty Jr

    Just as the current resident at the White House decided to buy a bus from Canada with taxpayer dollars, even though it could have been built to specifications in America.

    Remember, Comrade Obama is a ‘Citizen of the World’, not a Citizen of the United States of America.

  • Walter Hefty Jr

    “The Buck stops here.”
    President Harry S. Truman

  • Walter Hefty Jr

    If he had two, they’d rattle.

  • Jboy63

    Come on Americans, Obama is not responsible for AeroUnion’s planes being grounded. They breached their contract, by  not reporting maintenance deficiencies as required by contract. This is what is causing so many problems within our country, placing blame for everything that goes bad on Obama-give it a break. All this political BS is making us the laughing stock for the rest of the world.

  • ThirdParyNow

    Where in the Constitution does the federal government become a fire department? This is the big, evil, massive federal government that many, Rick Perry prominent among them, want to get rid of no? What you see here is exactly what a Perry presidency will deliver. I’m sure Ron Paul views these fires exactly as he viewed he hurricane a week ago as well. Guess what guys, you can’t have it both ways. Texas is the realization of the Tea Party’s dreams right now.

  • davidglass

    Thank Gov. Rick Perry for cutting the TX wildfire budget to the bone. Now he wants to rely on Federal $ and agencies to fight fires. I guess small government is good until disaster strikes. Suddenly fiscal conservatism and small government that provides no services isn’t quite as rosy as Mr. Perry makes it out to be.

  • Lisa Mortimeyer

    I think that would only be temporary, but it does open outside-the-box thinking pattern. Perhaps instead of moving the company to Texas, they can open a satellite office there and perhaps that would be enough to qualify them? Ummmm…not sure.

  • davidglass
  • Mizzzeta

    Does this article refer to
    the same contract that was terminated July 29th because the Aero Union planes
    failed to meet inspection requirements? If so, their services were
    replaced with backup military and private aircraft.

  • frdmbased

    My thoughts exactly Doris.  Since the American people have a short term memory, they will not realize those cuts don’t go into effect until next year.

  • FireMall

    The Flood victims in the mid America did get assistance. At least Obama said He was going to expedite the FEMA assistance. I suspect it has something to do with votes , as usual. 
       FYI– Obama wouldn’t even return Perry’s calls for help so take your op and stick them back up Obama’s rear where he spews out all his BS. 
       There is also the fact that Obama is pretty much History in Texas after ignoring calls for emergency fire funding. Then to put a nail in Texas’ coffin, Texas passed & implemented a Voter ID law that should stop the 2012  voter fraud in Austin & Houston. Not much incentive here for Obama to even consider Texas a State,  , now is there ?? Oops, I failed to mention Texas is a Right to Work state that has no reason to Kiss the Unions azzes . The few Unions in Texas seldom see their asparations of Extortionist tactics bear fruit either. The primary reason Obama Hates Texas.

          Texas has been cut short on FEMA aid since early spring even when the fires have affected a much larger area than the floods in the Mid states 
        “We” Texans are dealing with the fires, it’s hard to do with Volunteer Fire depts that take in very little federal aid.  Especially when there is a bunch of crazy Obama lovers setting half the dam State on fire for Obama’s re-election BS , not to mention the Obama duffus’s assistance in Obama’s Promise to “Punish” his enemies.
       Obama is dam well aware that Texans Can & Will take care of their own regardless what Puke”O” does to bring Texas down to “His” Socialist Level of Corruption. 
       Next, If you & yours of lacking in minds have some sort of thoughts about my opinion of POS Obama somehow comes off as an endorsement of Perry , well , you all will be as fooled as you were when you Voted for P”O”S Obama.
       It’s hilarious that you Obama people tear into Perry for the exact Socialist things Obama has already done.  
         If Perry looked like Obama you Obama lovers couldn’t tell that he was Perry instead of Obama.  
       That’s what “We The  Patriot People” got when the “O” people voted on Looks and ignored the lack of Honesty & Integrity of “O”.

  • frdmbased

    I read an article at (a long time ago as in months) that  made mention that Obama did not have a clue.  Something called the white house insider stories I think.  At the time I thought this was just phony and too far fetched to conceive but now I wonder at times…..

  • FireMall

      Just can’t stand it when people with a sense of perception Out Your Messiah Obama , HUH??

  • FireMall

       You should think about the Fact that the Fire fighters that got funding cuts are “NOT” sitting on their butts doing nothing because of Money. 
       I guarantee that the equipment & supply vendors of the Texas Volunteer fire depts have not cut the Depts off. And all the Firefighters are Still running their azzes off doing what they swore an Oath to do. 
        Bet you Obama Lovers today’s money that You Obama people cannot recall One Dam Time Obama has abided by “His” Oath of Office . Come on Bet me !!!! 

  • firepilot

    The Forest Service has been trying to eliminate any civilian contracted airtankers, and to only use Air National Guard C-130s, whose pilots are not as experienced as the civilian pilots in firefighting, and those planes retardant drop system is inferior to those of the dedicated civilian airtankers.  

    Also the FS is trying to just contract extra Canadian airtankers as needed.   Why is the USFS trying to get rid of any American civilian airtankers, and to just contract military and Canadian?  Because if anything bad happens, the FS can just wash their hands of it and not have any bad publicity or liability concerns.  The US Forest Service does not want to have to contract any US airtankers at all.   If a military or Canadian plane crashes on a fire, the Forest Service can say “Hey dont look at us, we did not certify it”

    That being said, Britt Gourley (CEO of Aero Union), should not be anywhere near an forest fire airtanker company.  Its ironic to hear him complaining about out of work people, since he has been gradually dismantling Aero Union, and putting even more people that that out of work.  He even sold off much of its maintainance and laid off mechanics, just in case anything bad like a crash  happened, Aero Union would be less liable.  Remember,. Britt is a lawyer. And so because of that, maintainance practices were not being done as they should have been, and so that is part of the reason AU lost those contracts.  However, the USFS was just looking for an excuse to cancel everything, and Britt gave them that.

    It was not that long ago, that Aero Union had 4 beautiful P-2 Neptune Airtankers for sale, and Britt ordered them, and all spare parts/engines shredded into little bits, because he did not want those planes to pose any future liability.   

  • FireMall

      What state do you live in ?  If it’s a Northeast / Northwest state or Calipunkia , I suggest you take care of all the Federal aid issues that  your welfare / illegal sanctuary state that is   bankrupting the Sovereign Self Supporting states that Obama literally detest for not falling in line with the Nanny State / Socialist agenda. 

  • dearwebby

    Did ANYBODY consider finding out, why Forestry said, that their demands have not been met?
    To me it looks like the usual requirement, that anybody working in a supervisory or commanding role on wild fires, directly or indirectly for Federal Forestry, must speak Spanglish.

    All companies, that have English-Only staff or policies, got sawed off, and all federal and state fire-fighting crew leaders, who don’t speak Spanglish, got fired.

    Who the hell do they think they are anyway?
    They had plenty of notice, and they knew that you can’t push Forestry. If they don’t like having to speak Spanglish, they can go to Canada.
    Have FUN!

  • Leroy_Whitby

    I didn’t know that people in asylums were given internet access.

  • Leroy_Whitby

    From what I’ve seen of Perry, I think Perry will benefit the most from not being on the campaign trail.

  • m0rningangel1

    I live within 100 miles of the largest fire in Texas and it is like serious smog here. Bama hates Rick and that is why he doesn’t do a thing to help Texas…does this guy really think he can fool the American people again..he is wasting his time running again for any office..his days are OVER OVER OVER

  • robert stan

    but but but… i thought we didn’t need the stinking federal government in anything, emergency response included. who needs the goberment? let texas save itself from fires w/private industry!

  • termiteteacher

    At the moment that is exactly what we are doing.  About a month or so ago, we spent all the wild fire money budgeted for it and Perry requested the president declare this a natural disaster and he refused.  Although, Obama declared NY a disaster area even before Irene, a Cat 1 storm, arrived.  And for those persons who fault Perry for the budget cuts, let me remind them that it is in Texas’ Constitution that we balance our budget.  Too bad we don’t have a Constitutional Amendment to that effect in our nation’s Constitution.  Can’t you just imagine Obama having to manage like a governor?  Sure thing.  :)   Screw Obama, we’ll handle it ourselves.  But don’t let him cross the Texas state line asking for handouts for his campaign.  We’re praying for Obama: Psalms 109:6-8.

  • FireMall

      Maybe your right , maybe not. about the no animosity.  It would be a little easier to say your right if Obama had not Already  Promised to Punish his enemies.  
        Obama snubbing Perry at the Airport in Austin last spring when Perry just wanted to know when Texas might expect some help with the Fires that have been raging since last Winter pretty well tells me what the No Planes for Texas deal is  about. 
       I guarantee that when the few  California fires are extinguished and the Texas Fires are still raging, and more being set daily ,  that the  Gov planes will be grounded before they get dispatched to Texas.  
        Obama would do better to keep his destructive  Mouth & Agenda a tad more hidden . Words mean things and Obama hasn’t a clue that “HIS’ words will come home to roost  someday and the sooner the better. So far the “ONLY” Promise Obama has kept is the One that Punishes  his Enemies..
        Can  any Obama voters here “honestly” say that they have received their Fat “O”bama Checks he promised them for their votes ??    I know better than  to LMAO @ the “O” Suckers but it’s hard to not laugh in the face of a Tyrant with a really big mouth and no teeth..

  • What_thaaaa

    You’re racism is showing through just a bit.  Are you aware of that? However, I am a Texan also and feel the same way about Perry that you do. So, at least we agree on something.

  • termiteteacher

    You are right!  YOU DON’T KNOW.

  • Guest
  • termiteteacher

    CorkyBoyd:  It is both.  Give the business to someone else and a dislike for Texas.

  • FireMall

    @twitter-88294765:disqus    FLcookie  &  rebelyell4,  as well as all True Americans.
       Something that has been a signature gig of Obama is the Fact that Obama uses Crisis for several reasons.  
       1– Would be for his own selfish political BS. 
       2– Would be , Every time Obama pulls a stunt like this one by withholding aid to the citizens “We” [including myself}  Fall for the Diversion .
        It’s a matter of creating discourse, regardless if the discourse is pinned  on Obama. 
         Obama has shown time after time that he can pull out of the Deliberate  Crisis mismanagement at some point right before the next crisis.  Example: Taking off on trips when there is critical issues to deal with in D.C. that the MSMs and all other news networks focused on while Obama was actually using the distraction to fly away un-noticed  & be  conferring with his Real bosses about the next phase of the New World Order. 
        And all the while , “We The People” are so focused on the Intentionally created anger & confusion , He has been up to some Really Bad things that “We” were Intentionally Distracted from seeing & or knowing. 
      Who the hell ever Obama’s real bosses are , they are pretty danged smart with the Distract, Divide, Confuse &  Conquer chapter in Rules for Radicals teachings.

  • Galtfan

    Heaven forbid if the illegals don’t get their free college education and welfare benefits. Didn’t Nero also fiddle while Rome burned?

  • Galtfan

    You forgot to mention that one of the few mandates of the federal government is to protect American Citizens.

  • termiteteacher

    I know that sounds good, Chris, but they wouldn’t pay.  I’m from Texas and one of the biggest of the fires back in the Spring was in the Davy Crocket National Forest.  If I were Perry, and being a Texan I hate to say this, but if a National Forest caught on fire, I’d evacuate the leased buildings and the cattle as best I could and then let it burn.  Use the resources to protect primarily the residences in the non-national park fires.

  • FireMall

      I pray for the day Texas cuts the Feds off, Then “We” Texans can use the  Texas money  “we” send the Feds for Our own benefit   that Obama is presently sending to the Arab Spring rebels for the sole purpose  of “Our” own destruction. 
       You suggest Texas use Private entities ?  Well,  I can happen,  but it will be with great bloodshed  when Texans all decide to go Private and chop the Fed’s hands off like Obama’s buddy Muslims would & will do us Texas Infidels. I pray the Texas folks win the next Alamo fight against the Arabs that Obama is arming as I rant.  

  • Carvhors

    No cuts have taken place yet. The commission thy was just appointed to negotiate hasn’t even met yet. Nice try.

  • termiteteacher

    I don’t know where Louisianna is on their available resources for fighting fires but I remind everyone that immediately after Katrina, Texas took many many refugees and found housing, assistance and jobs for them.  A good number of them are still in Texas.  But HEY, that’s the way we do things in Texas.  We will no only handle this ourselves but we will prosper for doing it the lonely Lone Star way.  WE DON’T NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED NO STINKING HELP FROM THE JEALOUS FEDS.

  • termiteteacher

    I wouldn’t want that for the White House.

  • GAR9

    I may be no fan of Obama, but this kind of thing isn’t all his fault, it predates him.  Forest Service for some time has wanted to have its own fleet of Government-owned and managed large tankers.  They’ve taken advantage of other situations to shut down tanker companies, not counting the 747 and DC-10 conversions because those were “one-offs” and not really competition, even when FAA has said the planes ere safe.

    Same old, same old…

  • termiteteacher

    Sounded pretty insightful and meaningful to me.  Good job.


    Whad I  toll ya Nero wus play’in golf wen Roma burnt.

  • termiteteacher

    Before you make assumptions, talk to the people in the Texas legislature that voted that in and you’ll find out those were smart investments to spur two very large industries in our state.  It was for the same reason the breaks were given to the buyers of jet planes that Obama griped about and, I guess, forgot that he voted for it.  All tax breaks aren’t just done for the rich.  In the two examples you mention, think of the business expansion it caused and the new jobs it created.  I wish the rest of the country could do things as well, and have the prosperity we’re having here in Texas.

  • termiteteacher

    As far as cutting the wildfire budget expense line in our budget, you should know that in Texas, our state Constitution requires us to balance our budget.  Part of why we’re doing so well here.  When the budget was passed, no one could foresee the drought and the Texas sized fires.

  • FireMall

     It’s hard to recall that one considering  the Dot “O” Gov took over & began the destruction gig. 
       IMO; Nothing, & I mean Nothing would suit Obama better than to have all True Patriots in a mass grave.
        Too bad the Useful Idiots that elected Hiel  Obama don’t realize that is the plan and they are not going to get away either. 

  • DearMom

    It’d be a shame to waste a crisis.

    Yobama = Crisis King

  • Drawer22

    @ Insots29

    Thank you so very much for your concisely insightful comment. It raised discussion to the lofty heights of sewage gutterdom.

    Đại Úy Paul (Cogito, ergo armatus sum.)

  • WhyMeLord

    Predictions were there for just this eventuality.  The only difference was one of scale. 
    I well understand the law requiring a balance budget (most states have this requirement) but that did not seem to come into consideration when the state granted F1 racing $25M a year for 10 years. 
    There are other similar deals that don’t pass the smell test even in the best of times and these are far from the best of times.

  • WhyMeLord

    I’m in regular contact with folk in Austin and often there for extended periods when the Legislature is in session.  Having come of age in Louisiana and had decades of political dealings in Baton Rough, Austin and Jackson Mississippi I know well how the games are played.Real world the F1 expansion would have occurred anyway.  (I was offered a small part of the deal early on and passed)

  • Shari Bowden Tucker

    The guy that took over Aero Union ran the company into the ground with outsourcing, sub-par sub contracting of repairs, out of the country, and blowing off any safety regulations all in the name of cost-cutting. He thought he could get away with it, but when his planes came back from being re-winged in Canada, there was no work log. There is more to this story  that excessive regualtion. Be glad it’s there – they aren’t safe to fly.

    My husband worked there for years and lost his job with the rest of the guys when these guys were grounded. They all knew it was coming.

    The irony is that for years, these guys were cheaper, better, and more reliable than their competiors, and as such, managed to make a tidy profit and have decent wages and benefts at the same time.

    The dirty secret is that in 2005 they were taken over by a private equity firm who though they could tidy up the balance sheet and flip the company for millions, all the while dismantling the qualities that brought the equity to the table in the first place.

    Print that – but it doesn’t fit the narrative.

  • Heather

    “they aren’t safe to fly.” just the beginning of your half-truths. and The HELL they aren’t.. as the wife of the best mechanic Aero Union has.. they are the best air tankers and safest of ALL of them. AERO UNION is the pilots, the mechanics that have been there and flying for decades!!! Not Brit Gourley, not any investment firm. When you talk out your rear, you are damaging THEIR reputation that most likely treated your “husband”  like family and still do. Educate yourself properly before you speak on something you THINK you know..from somebody who USED to know, and trust me, no longer does! …
    T-21′s sweetheart

  • Fire Wolf

    one has to wonder if this was not intentional. I mean, it’s not beneath the libz to sabotage HMMV dealerships, housing developments, medical testing facilities in the name of our mother earth. Why not Texas? After all, Bush, Cheney, Paul, Beck, and Perry all call the lonestar state home. Why not let it burn, and hamper the rescue efforts by grounding all the aircraft to fight fires too?

    Sure, I may be leaping to conclusions here, but haven’t you seen enough crazy crap these past few years to call my theory possible? LOL

    I mean, the feds could also be motivated to create more union jobs, but that might be the icing on the dung heap.

  • Heather

    The FAA if you read the article above cleared the air tankers to fly AND said they are the best of the fire fighting resources. They are AIR WORTHY according to the FAA at this time

  • Shari Bowden Tucker

    YOu are missing the issue. I’ll try one more time. Aero Union can’t prove these planes are safe under the current management structure.

    That is a failure of manangement – not the good reliable mechanics that didn’t work on them. If they had he wouldn’t be grounded.

    Until they can prove they are safe – no paper work no flying – and given what I have seen come back from Canada – I have my doubts – they won’t fly.

    I am tired of guys like Britt getting away with corportate murder – which is what he did – Mureder this company- to line his pockets by defrauding the government. Really – there is a huge story here and it isn’t the FAA being too strict – it’s corprate America hosing decent companies and utterly failing to hold up the requirements of a contract.

    I can’t figure out how Britt could mess that up when Dale managed new a new cadillac every 3 years and the FAA andf the forest service though he was the bomb.

  • Heather

    READ.. It’s NOT the FAA…(It’s the FOREST SERVICE that wants to fly C-130′s of their own) THE FAA has SAID they are AIR WORTHY…according to this very article and the paperwork that proves they are… so try all you want to discredit the company because somebody has their feelings hurt. So you are tired of Brit not getting his, so let’s hurt the rest of the hard working guys are Aero Union. great call! 

  • Heather

    Ok, I will try one more time. The FAA said and SAYS they are air worthy. The FOREST SERVICE..cancelled the contract citing future inspection requirements which have NOTHING to do with their safety or ability to fly right now! (again, you are clueless as to the issue) The FAA is concerned at the USFS decision because the planes ARE safe and air worthy according to the FAA and so YES AU has proven and shown they are safe and inspected ready to fly! I am tired of butt hurt former employees hoping to see Brit fail and take their friends with them!!

  • rebelyell4

    It’s not “almost like”; they actually are and it’s very real. The drug trade runs Mexico. It sells to the US customer base. Now tell me very quickly what the largest US customer base is? Every major metro area, all controlled by progressives are where the most and best customers hang out.

    We out here in the country might find a still now and again, sometimes even some plants growing, a lot of home oprations going on, but the hard straightup delivery systems run through the country, right to the cities that the democrats control. They cannot afford to have their supplies interrupted, can they? So who are the presidents biggest backers? Who control most of the purse strings in Chicago? What exactly is Chicago’s history in the world? Chicago has to be at least their number 2 location before distribution. Just plain common sense. Just look at a map.

    The drug runners know full well that a fire here and there simply moves the authorities into contained areas they cannot leave till the fire is under control. Plenty of room to get those nice packages deliverred with little to no interference. Once they hit Chicago the teamsters take over for the nationwide approach.

    Lived around that kind of system in South Florida when the feds claimed there were “cocaine Cowboys” running drugs through the glades and planes were actually dropping them there.When things got a little tight, they’d start a neat brush fire on the other side of the glades and make themselves some space to operate in. Made the deer hunters happy too. Hard to find deer with all that tall grass. Of course the tall grass was just exactly where they didnt want the deer hunters either.

    The best way to move the drugs is through areas where folks turn a blind eye to migrant farm labor and their associated living areas. Happens right here in our rural areas all the time. Right straight down the road they go, looks like watermelons,, looks like hay, but no one bothrs them. If they did, they wouldn’t be legal and a lot of trouble happens for a democrat who actually finds an illegal. Hard to keep your job as a law officer if you find an illegal. Seldom does it ever stop here, it’s moving through to get to the city. Atlanta was their main goal, but it got there through Florida. great movies about it ariving with speedboats and junk. More of it left that way rather than ariving.

    The fires are distractions and the fact that they go out of control actually makes the starting of them even more of a “feel good” thing for the mexicans running the stuff. They know for sure that Texas belongs to them, as well as New Mexico, Arizona, etc.

    No, I didnt inhale, much.

  • smartgranny55

    Vote the bums out.

  • smartgranny55

    It is revenge

  • smartgranny55

    More mexicans vote demo than Texans

  • Shari Bowden Tucker

    Heather when you roll into a company like that – manage it the way he did – he was looking to tighten up the balance sheet ant turn a quick profit. When that didn’t happen, he started cutting corners. The Forest Service got tired of telling him, you know maybe you should have qualified licesed people signing stuff of instead of the head pilot’s mistress…. just sayin’ – Oh, and make the Forset Service fly all over North America to check work orders – when before the contract was based upon the fact AUC was a one stop shop – well. that was a breach, too.

    Then when AUC could’t pony up the paperwork, it created a riff. A big one. and rather that play mind games with a guy like Britt – they said forget it. We are done.

    Maybe now that the company is in recievership, Britt is out, they can get back to the buisiness of straightenting the paperwork out and get back in the air.

    And put Britt in an orange jumpsuit – ’cause where did all that government contracting money go?

    Company was fine befroe that guy showed up.

  • Heather

    Again NOT the point.. at all. You don’t have to like Brit or how he managed AU, he is NO TERRY. However, the planes are safe. That was your initial statement.. that they aren’t and I will NOT sit idle by why you attempt to ruin MY husband’s reputation when he SIGNS off on those planes! They are safe to fly despite wishing that Brit and the whole company “gets theirs”..try to hope that the employees that were or thought they were friends of yours, are able to do a job they LOVE and protecting people that are DYING and losing everything because the USFS wants to play political games. Period. But you go ahead and hate Brit.. I could care less but do NOT try to give misinformation that leads to believe those airplanes are not safe, air worthy and capable of doing the job they are intended to.

  • jdonnely

    The above quote is all the FAA said in the piece. So how does the statement “Aero Union has not presented any evidence that its aircraft are in compliance with their inspection program.” say that the aircraft are airworthy? This isn’t politics, its about safety standards put in place so that flight crews no longer die like in 2002.

  • Gizzy

    First of all, Aero Union is not a “union”.  It is a privately owned corporation.
    Second, the reason the P-3′s were grounded by the Forest Service is becasue they are questioning the maintainence records and air worthiness of the planes themselves.  I personally know several of the pilots that left the company because they did not feel save flying the planes.  These are ex Navy pilots abandoning ship so to speak.  They know these planes, had been flying them their entire Navy career and for Aero Union for over 10 years for some of them, and they did NOT feel SAFE flying them under the Gourley “administration”.
    Third, when Gourley inherited Aero Union there were over 300 employees.  Now there are only 60.  He is a lawyer, he doesn’t know how to run an aircraft business.  Oh, and not to mention that he has lost two, count them two, of the eight P-3′s to Canada on mechanic’s leins due to failure to pay for maintenance performed.
    Obama may have something to do with this, but I’m pretty sure its Gourley’s incompetence that has caused the fall of the once mighty AUC.

  • Osamas Pajamas

    Also ask also those Republican owners of car dealerships that OhBummer torpedoed when he got around to hijacking automobile manufacturers.

  • Osamas Pajamas

    Free men often risk their lives — without a dictatorship to “protect” them from themselves.  Imagine the First American Revolution back in 1776 and some Washington DC [not yet extant] gasbag spokeshole for the budding Nanny State approaches the armed colonists and says, “Oh, no!  NO revolution!  Someone might get hurt! Tsk, tsk!”  Then the colonists raise their weapons and blow him into the next zipcode [not yet extant].

  • Osamas Pajamas

    Reminds me of the White House Travel Office when Sick Willie Clinton was in power — he fired the then-current operator to install his cronies and confederates.  So — cui bono?  Who benefits from the termination of the Aero Union contract, and who benefited from the denial of skimmer and other cleanup service during the Gulf oil spill?

  • Osamas Pajamas

    porchhound sounds like a sour grapes Democrat.

  • Heather

    Annabelle? Disgruntled much? …again…they DID, ask to see records and they were given them. The FAA is very confident in their air worthiness. I have never in my life seen such bitter ex employees in all my life with NO regard whatsoever what is best for the employees that remain at Aero Union, the long hard careers they have worked for, NOT TO MENTION the people dying and suffering due to these tankers SITTING for no damn good reason. Pathetic.

  • Ed_USA

    “Now see yourself out like the good little stooge”

    Oh, I’ll do just as you say, since your mother begged me to the other night. At least I think that’s what she begged for. It was hard to understand her with her mouth full…

  • Gizzy

    Annabelle and Michelle deserved what they got and more.
    It is very obvious that you are not an actual employee.  What one’s significant other says at home and what actually goes on, or went on before their said employment, are two totally different things.
    And please don’t tell me about having no regard for the employees that work there and the long hard careers they have worked for.  I do feel for them losing their jobs.  I was also in that position.  I saw people that had been there for over 30 years get fired by the Gourley “administration”.  What about them!That man single handedly put entire families out of work.
    I really don’t care if the FAA and Forest Service asked to see records and if they were provided them.  If the pilots don’t feel safe flying the planes, it speaks volumes more than a piece of paper.

  • Ed_USA

    Since you know so much more about it, please do enlighten me on the details of the maintenance program that got the contract canceled. Since you’ve set yourself up as an expert, your credibility depends on whether you can back it up. Let’s hear it.

  • Heather

    The committed Crew Chiefs and pilots that are still willing and ready to jump into those planes tomorrow if called upon DO feel safe! As well as the authorities that allow them to. I am a supporter and significant other of AERO UNION and the employees that ARE the company. You just being here trying to stomp out any last chance of your former fellow employees and probably friends also speaks volumes beyond your words. Again, NEVER try to tell anyone those planes aren’t safe because I ASSURE you the Crew Chiefs working on them stake their LIVES on it everytime they get on them with complete confidence. It’s called pride and integrity. Again, a vandetta against Brit doesn’t save Texas, now does it? How selfish!


     veteran,a prosecutor a married father of 5,a businessman that has brought his state to third in the country in new jobs and has had a surplus in the state budget the last two years.We need somebody that has the countrys best interests at heart and he is the only one who has.He works across the aisle,he wants whats best for the country not for his own interests.

  • seal5055

    Now you can see why you shouldn’t vote for someone that has never had a real job to run the USA. I can’t believe  how many people were stupid enough to believe his BS. Many of the people that associate closely to Obama have stated publicly that they want to collapse the economy of the USA. He has said he will put the coal companies out of business. If he wanted to save the economy all he would have to do is start drilling for oil, and loosen the restrictions on coal. The only reason he is still fighting three wars is because he knows how expensive wars are. What better way to spend money we don’t have. I say lets cancel all visas coming from any middle eastern country, bring all our troops home, or send them to help Israel, and just let the ragheads kill each other. Then send our troops in after they have exhausted there supply of ammunition. 

  • tiredtexasmom

    I live in north east Texas.and have just returned home from our 2nd evacuation in 2 days due to a 30,000+  acre wildfire. Today, there’s actually hope, because of  2 big, beautiful yellow super-scooper water tanker planes, that fly so low overhead, the vibration causes plates to fall from cabinets. Those planes are the only reason I still have a home.  A lot of  people nearby aren’t as fortunate.  Many have lost everything. Two young lives were also lost. Early afternoon, less than 2 miles away, the fire was still burning unimpeded, toward the small community in which I live. The last several days, helicopters with buckets were the only aerial fighting equipment being used.  Trust me, we were all grateful for them. But then late today, you could feel those planes, as well as hear them coming.  Living near a lake, the round trip for these planes took only  approximately 8-10 minutes.  They are to return around 6:00 AM today.  When I hear & feel them approaching,  maybe then, I, and many others, can rest for the first time in many days.   

    It’s inexcusable for “those in control” to have planes & crews available to help save lives, property and livelihoods of those who are in desperate need.  The only reason I can think of to purposefully withhold these valuable assets, is to bring more people to their knees, who would then beg for assistance and become dependent upon the government’s handouts.

  • A_Proud_Infidel

    I don’t doubt that at all, I’m certain that B. Hussein 0bama has nothing but contempt and disdain for everyday independent hardworking folks who want to work for what they’ve got, and he and his ilk want all of us dependent on him like urban public housing denizens on welfare!

  • denialator

    IF Governor Perry had a hair on his butt, he’d kick DHS/FEMA out of this state and contract directly with Aero-Union for those 4 planes, pilots, maintenance and crews to fight these deadly and costly fires in Texas.

    The FED has done nothing but cause everything to turn upside down and impede all efforts and progress, like a bull in a china shop.  It’s time for someone to let them know we don’t need their help here, just like they don’t appreciate what Texas has to offer this nation.  Let them find out on their own how we do things, and maybe take a few lessons.  Maybe this is why they try to stop us, because the world would soon become wise to the fact that the FED is a damn joke.  I’m sick of seeing our state suffer because of the incompetence in DC.  KMA!

  • Winston Chelf

    I believe this is a part of an issue that has been ongoing for quite some time.

    From “Federal Aerial Firefighting: Assessing Safety and Effectiveness
    Blue Ribbon Panel Report to the Chief, USDA Forest Service and Director, USDI Bureau of Land Management” December 2002, “The panel believes obtaining and outfitting newer military aircraft, such as C-130s and P-3s, would only perpetuate a cycle that has proven to be unsustainable and dangerous. Unless the FAA and operator community change its methods, one could expect to see another cycle of structural failures and pilot fatalities within a decade or two. This strongly suggests that it is time to abandon what the panel considers a 50-year- old unsustainable

    The biggest concern is the safety of former military aircraft that fall into a sort of “no man’s land” with regard to continuous airworthiness certification. The Federal Aviation Administration maintains a hands off approach, for the most part, because the aircraft were originally manufactured to military dictated standards and since maintained under the former military maintenance documents. Those maintenance documents may or may not have been maintained to current standards, having been originally published some time ago and there is no requirement of the original manufacturer to do so. Furthermore, these aircraft are utilized in a role not foreseen by their original designers or maintenance programs.

    Highly contributory to this use of aging former military aircraft is the pattern of contracting that exists within the firefighting community. The government essentially wants a lot for near nothing paid. What they get is always the low bidder, regardless of how they pretend to package the “best value” contracts. As a result of the low bid practice the only aircraft that can compete are the aging former military aircraft with outdated and ultimately unsustainable maintenance programs.

    Also from the Blue Ribbon Panel Report, “The apparent, but possibly illusory, reality that funding is never sufficient has bred a culture that accommodates risk in aerial firefighting activities. For the aviation program overall, this has translated to insufficient contract funding to provide adequate knowledge of aircraft condition; insufficient training, inspection, and maintenance; and deplorable safety record for large air tankers. Similarly, the government-owned and operated Baron and Sherpa fleets are apparently aging prematurely, and are being dispatched into conditions where they cannot maintain altitude if one engine fails.
    A culture that emphasizes cost-efficiency has also created an admirable, but hazardous, “can-do” ethos that pervades firefighting aviation. Unwittingly, the Forest Service has exploited the passion and willingness of its firefighters to do more with less. But this approach fails to confront an incompatibility with safe aviation—considering cost when there is not a clear understanding of the effects that result from apparent savings. A cost emphasis also sends strong signals to operators and supervisors to encourage and reward a “can-do” attitude, despite a shortage of resources or having to compromise safety. As one regional aviation officer commented, “We are captured by our own success; we always manage to find a way.””

    See also,

    In short, this will continue to be a problem until the Federal agencies that contract for aviation firefighting services provide sufficient funding for modernization of the fleet and the contracting culture of low bid as the sole determinate of contract award goes away. There must be some accountability in the contracting process for providing best value which includes amortization of newer technology, modern design and current certification aircraft along with fully documented continuous airworthiness maintenance programs that take into account the unique role that firefighting aircraft perform. This is not to say that we write blank checks to either civilian contractors or Government agencies, but that we must provide a sustainable contracting environment that provides both the funding for and the means of requiring the right equipment with modern certification of both the equipment and the continuous airworthiness maintenance programs that accompany that equipment.

    Strictly low bid works just fine for a McLeod, but doesn’t work well over the long term for aviation. There is always a cost to pay. We can choose to pay it up front in the form of higher prices for professional contracting oversight and services rendered or pay it later in human lives.

    From my decades of flying on fires it seems to me that this latest action might be a move toward better contracting with an eye to more modern aircraft certified to current civilian standards and the maintenance programs they require. Or it might just be political payback by those who wish to do Texas harm as so many seem to suggest.

  • Peter Locke

    Sure is odd, Perry jumps into the Presidential race, and suddenly Texas is lighted up with wildfires. I’m sure not a conspiracy theorist (usually), but I do have a suspicious mind. It was weird looking at the fire-map of the U.S. Only one of the fires on the map was outside of Texas.

  • Adam Moreira

    Here, I would dismiss it as conspiracy theory. The fact is that the USFS doesn’t want any potential damages on its hands if a plane crashes.

  • Jake

    And if I recall correctly, at least one nation’s skimmer ships were denied because the water they put back into the ocean was something like 99% free of oil, instead of the 99.5% the EPA required (numbers for illustration only, I don’t recall the exact numbers). So instead of some help that was not quite perfect, we got nothing.

  • FireMall

      Here is an article, comment for those here that are ranting about Perry Cutting the Firefighting Budget. 
         It’s an Example of what the Gov dubs Baseline Budgeting. 
    quickly, and to get this out of the way: the Online Left is babbling about
    supposedly-cut Texas firefighting budgets, mostly because they lack the research
    skills – or possibly, the native intelligence – to tell the difference between a
    $109 million Forest Service/Wildfire Fighting budget in 2010/2011, and a $196
    million Forest Service/Wildfire Fighting budget for 2012/2013 (the 2012 fiscal
    year started at the beginning of this month). Fortunately, Battleswarm Blog can
    both think and do research – as seen here and here – which means that I don’t
    have to do any of the heavy lifting this time. Bottom line: never, ever stop
    just because you got the answer that you wanted. (READ MORE)

  • Leroy_Whitby

    I don’t know why you post these things. Obama can waive them. He’s in charge of the EPA. Why didn’t he?

  • Toemoose

    Because Texas doesn’t have – and won’t raise – the $$$.  In fact, the Governor made it clear that there wasn’t enough money for the Texas Forest Service before the fire issues arose (

  • Metalmaniac

    What’s she going to do tell the fires thet can’t burn anything in her state?

  • Checkpoint

    fire- Non fighters

    I live in Malibu Ca. And every time I see a Fireman (usually hanging out at the beach or getting coffee at star bucks) I feel like asking them if they think they may actually have to work this year? I have fought fires in Malibu for over 30 years and between myself and a few friends we have put out more structure fires than all of the Malibu fire fighters put together. Firefighters in rural areas are an extreme waste of money! Paid to sleep, fight fires an average of every five years, no water nor access in mountainious areas and most often refuse to place themselves in danger. What should be done is to fire these overpaid peons and buy the biggest fire fighting airplanes made, then deploy them immediately without having to wait for a declared state of emergency. That is how you fight and win against wildfires. Furthermore When every state in the union does the same firing of these money draining useless non firefighters and has their own planes they can have mutually beneficial assistance agreement with each state so 100s of real firefighting plans could converge on any fire within the USA. Wildfire problem solved!

  • Metalmaniac

    The saddest thing about your looooooooooonnnnnnnnggggggggggwwwwiiiinddddeedd replies are, they are shot down  everytime. And yet, you insist on more of the same(lies & half truths).

  • FireMall

     Just to make sure you & others know, 
        90% of the  Texas wildfires are fought by Volunteer Fire Fighters. Volunteer as in No Pay, No Insurance, with  very little Glory. . Any extra cost are often paid by the Volunteers.  
        Remember these Volunteer forfeit there regular job pay to be off fighting fires.  Even the self-employed firefighters may lose money from being away from their businesses. 
        Also, Note the article below about the Feds finally showing up , then not allowing the Volunteers to help because of the Usual Federal  PC / BS that likely cost the Bastrop citizens a few hundred more Homes with the Fed’s “our” way or No way Idiocy.   In a way, I agree, Pizz on the Feds, they are prone to be as Useful as Teats on a Boar hog anyway. At Ten times the cost to boot.

  • Elf

    Another illustrative document, regarding Obama’s priorities:

  • Robin Longmire Berry

    wanna bet? O’bamma is such an embarrassment to the Dems that they probably would vote him out, just allow a secret ballot.

  • Jack Therwhanger

    You folks bashing Perry for his Democratic past need to know that you have to be a Democrat even today to get elected to anything in Haskell County, TX.  I doubt Perry carried his home county in his last gubernatorial race and if he did he overcame a lot of prejudice and tradition to pull it off.

  • Guest

    Hysterics don’t get you very far, Elk.  You run on like your hair is on fire and your rearend is catching.  What you’re spouting in your rant is untrue for the most part.  What’s true is:  There should be no Federal  Dept. of Education nor an Energy Dept.  Energy was supposed to find a way to stop our reliance on foreign oil.  They still haven’t and it started all the way back in Jimmy Carter’s administration.

    Ask any teacher about “No Child left Behind” which program was connived at by George Bush and Teddy Kennedy.  That’s bipartisanship for you!  Put the two sides together and they screw everything up!

    I do wish you liberals in “Normalville” (good grief!! Now I’ve heard it all)  would stop twisting and taking practically everything said by Conservatives out of context.  You only get yourselves even more confused than you already are.  Most of the other items you mentioned are just so much Democrat blather.    An example:  Dems say we should raise the budget (hahaha, what budget?  the Dems haven’t even made  one in about 3 years) for gidget widgets $30b.  The Republicans say, Oh no, not more than $15b.  The Dems scream, run to their pet news outlets and bawl, “The Republicans are cutting the gidget widget budget by $15b, now granny, grandpa and the grandkids are gonna die!” 

    Our government could probably run just as well on half the money it sucks out of taxpayers if they’d actually try to dig out the waste.  That won’t happen, though, unless Republicans get in because it’s too difficult. And we’ll be lucky if even they can get it done.

    I read once about one of the Chinese emperors who decided to take a trip.  All the wagons, animals, tents and trappings were gathered together to begin the journey and the Emperor, being in the front set off in the morning.  When he arrived at the place where they were to camp that evening, the last part of his train was just leaving his palace.  That’s our huge, bloated,  government.  It’s simply too huge and unwieldy.  It needs to be streamlined!!

  • hukarian

    I am another former Aero Union corporation employee and have spent the last five moths working the fires in Texas. I quit Aero Union two years ago because of my concerns about the management of the company. I work for another contractor now. It is pathetic that some of the finest aircraft in the large airtanker fleet have been taken out by a dis-functional corporate structure headed by a Philadelphia lawyer intent on sucking money from a viable company for personal gain.
    Mismanagement by the Forest Service dating from the Bush appointment of Mark Rey, as head of Fire and Aviation, and his minion Tony Kern should also take a bow. They canceled all the large airtanker contracts in 2004, bringing the industry to it’s knees, chanting the mantra of safety. There were over 50 large airtankers when I started. There are now 11. As my friend Don use to say, disssscusting.

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