SANTA BARBARA COUNTY - They put their lives on the line in the air to save lives and property on the ground during out of control wildfires on the Central Coast.
The spectacular, non-stop effort by these pilots helped snuff out the Lookout Fire above Santa Barbara that threatened dozens of homes.
But for the pilots, the continuous drops by helicopter and air tanker on the fire lines was all in a day's work.
"It looks like pandemonium and chaos and just hitting here and hitting there", says P-2 V air tanker pilot Bryan Baker, "but it's a very well coordinated and orchestrated event."
Baker was among the first air tanker pilots to make retardant drops on the fast-moving, wind-driven Lookout Fire.
"There were some flames that were getting real close to some houses", Baker says about the first hours of the fire, "it was looking real nasty in a couple of spots, it could have been a lot worse."
The non-stop aerial assault on the Lookout Fire included several tankers and helicopters making daring dives and runs on the fire lines.
"As a tanker pilot I'm looking for exits", Baker says, "the helicopters, power lines and where the drop will have the most effect on a fire like that."
Baker comes from a family of firefighting pilots, following his father and his brother, only Baker gets to fly a P-2 V.
"There's no other airplane like this flying in the world anywhere", Baker says about his P-2 V, "its a pleasure and a privilege to be flying this airplane."
Baker says he works nearly year-round border to border, coast to coast helping put out wildfires.
He says having an air tanker re-load base at the Santa Maria Airport made the difference in successfully knocking down the Lookout Fire.
"It could have been a completely different outcome", Baker says, "if we didn't have the immediate access to the assets and in the manner in which they were used for that fire."
Baker modestly admits he's part of an elite group of pilots that do what they do, but he also acknowledges the bravery, professionalism and hard work of his fellow firefighters on the ground and how they work together as a team to save lives and property.
Thursday, May 23 2013 1:29 AM EDT2013-05-23 05:29:02 GMT
ATASCADERO, Calif. - Atascadero Police found a body on the 4300 block of Tranquilla Avenue on Wednesday night, and they say it might have been a suspicious death. Atascadero Police responded to a reportMore >>
ATASCADERO, Calif. - Atascadero Police found a body on the 4300 block of Tranquilla Avenue on Wednesday night, and they say it might have been a suspicious death.More >>
Wednesday, May 22 2013 7:40 PM EDT2013-05-22 23:40:52 GMT
SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- The Santa Maria Ford Dealership is under fire after customers say they lure in with flyers promising they had won a prize but when they got to the dealership, they never got it.More >>
Customer after customer said they were told they were winners for successfully matching three symbols on this flyer but the dealership says those prizes never came.
Wednesday, May 22 2013 7:25 PM EDT2013-05-22 23:25:16 GMT
SANTA MARIA - When Santa Barbara Police released dash cam video to the local media of a traffic stop back in October 2011, it was from a pilot device installed in the patrol car of Officer Aaron Tudor. TheMore >>
Nearly 30 patrol cars expected to be equipped with video-audio recording devices by end of the week.More >>
Wednesday, May 22 2013 7:24 PM EDT2013-05-22 23:24:25 GMT
SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif- Arroyo Grande and Atascadero will join four other cities in San Luis Obispo County in establishing a Tourism and Business Improvement District, now all but one city in theMore >>
SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif- Arroyo Grande and Atascadero will join four other cities in San Luis Obispo County in establishing a Tourism and Business Improvement District, now all but one city in the county has one.More >>