South Dakota National Guard Aviation Unit conducts wildland fire re-certification
CUSTER STATE PARK, — If you were near Custer State Park Friday, you may have noticed several helicopters flying around.
The South Dakota National Guard Aviation Unit was in the park, training for its annual Wildland Fire re-certification. This is required each year for the pilots to receive letter of authorization to fly on federal lands.
“Whether it’s the fire service itself or the National Guard we always have new people come on every year,” said Ray Bubb, a SD Wildland Division State Fire Aviation Officer. “So it’s good to bring these new people on get some experience prior to where you need them for an actual fire season.”
The training also offers an invaluable opportunity for the pilots to fine tune their precision drops, while also giving ground crews from local volunteer fire departments a chance to hone their skills.
“You know you look at a year like last year where we didn’t see a lot of activity other than the training itself,” Bubb said. “So, this just gets them back into the groove again so that if we do dry out this year and we need them, they’ll be ready to go.”
The National Guard’s training was a joint exercise conducted by the South Dakota Wildland Fire Division, in conjunction with Game, Fish and Parks.