The photographers from Samostour have often seen and photographed the firebombers in action and on trainingsflight on Samos.
(see the Firebombers in action in "Fire at Vourliotes")
The 1.sept. 2005 we had the possibility to 'touch' them!!
We made a trip to Samos Airport, and after talking to 4 or 5 security people we were escorted to the airport chiefs office. We talked to the chiefs representative, and he arranged a meeting with the chief of the firebombers.
Har. Malaktaris is colonel in the Hellenic Airforce and a very experienced pilot with many 'flying hours' - f. ex. more than 2000 hours in the old DC3.
Malaktaris was also the pilot, when the former kings Paul 1. and Konstantin's airplane had its last flight to the AF-Museum.
Since the time of the DC3's Malaktaris has been flying other types, and he is (even if he is 'the chief') still active as pilot.
The meeting ended with an unforgettable tour to the aircrafts!
Malaktaris and Jan talking in front of the 2 CL-215 stationed on Samos
Colonel Malaktaris and Torben in a cosy and good talk.
The airplanes are 2 "elderly ladies" from 1967.
The 'wet' spots on the ground are not water but oil from the motors!
Oil is constantly dripping from them, and when started the whole airplane is covered with spots of oil.
The motors are Pratt & Whitney R-2800 on 2100 hp each.
Malaktaris and Jan talking about the landing gear.
It is obvious, that the airplanes are "boats with wings".
The 'handle' on the nose is used for anchoring and if the airplane is pulled by a tug (on the water of course!).
The 'bomb-hatches' are open - here the water comes out!
They can dump one at a time or both at the same time.
From the 2 'squared' tubes they can extend a tube, when filling the watertanks.
They are flying less than 30-40 cm above the surface when taking up water. The tubes are bend slightly forward, and the water is pressed up in the tanks.
The 2 tanks can contain 5455 litre of water. The black tank to the right contains some kind of foam, to make the water more "wet".
It increases the waters ability to spread and to extinguish fire many times. (Same equipment is behind the left watertank.)
Malaktaris telling about all in the aircraft, and about his and his crews missions.
A view in the cockpit. The 2 big red handles are the pilots only 'life-insurance' when airborne. It is the 'Emergency-dump' handles,
so they very fast can dump the more than 5 tons of water, if an emergency situation should occur.
A little closer look. The 2 instruments in the middle shows how much water the 2 tanks contain. There is also a mount for a camera,
and right under (with red markings) the fire alarm and extinguish control for the airplane itself - the left part are 2 systems for the motors.
Jan in the 1. pilots seat.
Malaktaris gives Jan instruction in all the control-handles.
Malaktaris in his usual place.
Torben in the co-pilot seat.
I (Torben) am getting instruction in the airplanes instrumentation.
The airplane is fully manual controlled - no servo steering like in even the smallest cars - the rudders are controlled by wires and manpower!!
I was very surprised how hard it was, even if there were no wind-pressure on the rudders to fight against!
The pilots work is absolutely not risk-free. They are often flying very low with a heavy loaded and 100% manual controlled airplane.
We really understand, why they have the pictures on the wall.
Securing the hat...
After the very informative introduction to this airplane, we do understand, what Malaktaris meant when saying,
that when you fly this plane you have to feel it - you have to become one with it.
There is no time to think: 'what now'.
I wish, that I could say: OK, Ready for take-off !
Great thanks to Har. Malaktaris !!!
Photo: Jan Backstrøm & Torben Bolhøj.
Text: Torben Bolhøj.