New York Army Guard helicopter crews hone water bucket firefighting skills
1 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – New York Army National Guard Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation set up a Bambi Bucket for training near Round Lake, N.Y., May 31, 2017. The training prepared soldiers for emergencies such as forest fires, so they can be qualified to exti... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
New York Army Guard helicopter crews hone water bucket firefighting skills
2 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A New York Army National Guard Soldier from the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation watches as a Bambi Bucket is filled with water in Round Lake, N.Y., May 31, 2017. A Bambi Bucket can hold up to 560 Gallons of water, which weighs almost two tons when ful... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
New York Army Guard helicopter crews hone water bucket firefighting skills
3 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – New York Army National Guard aviators from the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation lift water out of Round Lake, N.Y., May 31, 2017. The Soldiers were using Bambi Buckets, which can hold up to 560 gallons of water, to practice flying in emergency situation... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
New York Army Guard helicopter crews hone water bucket firefighting skills
4 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – New York Army National Guard aircrew from the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation prepare to fill a Bambi Bucket with water from Round Lake, N.Y., May 31, 2017. The aviators were conducting a slow pick-up in order to fill their bucket with as much water as... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
New York Army Guard helicopter crews hone water bucket firefighting skills
5 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

ROUND LAKE, N.Y., -- Six New York Army National Guard Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion 142nd Aviation, conducted UH-60 helicopter water bucket training here on Wednesday, May 31.

The 560-gallon buckets are hung underneath the helicopter, filled with water by dipping them in a lake or stream, and then discharged over a forest or wild fire.

Water bucket training is done to prepare aviators to assist local fire departments in controlling forest fires and wildfires. Each summer selected crews train on the system to prepare for an emergency call.

Flying with almost two tons of water hanging underneath the helicopter requires practice because it changes the flying characteristics of the aircraft, explained, 1st Lt. Forrest Thrush, and instructor pilot and the battalion's assistant operations office.

"With such a heavy load underneath the aircraft, if we lose an engine, we don't have the same lunging capability," Thrush said.

The load also oscillates as the helicopter flies and the pilot has to compensate, he explained.

Each crew consists of four people. Two pilots and two crew chiefs. One crew chief controls the water bucket, and the other assists.

The training consisted of initial qualifications for one of the pilots, and refresher training for the rest of the crew.

The first step in the training was for the crew to hover over their water source and allow the water bucket to fill up. They then lift it out of the water and fly to an area where it was safe to dump the bucket. This was repeated six times at multiple speeds.

The training required the pilot and his crews to conduct different types of pick-ups and emergency procedure training, such as changing the speed of a pick-up and reacting to a bucket not opening properly.

The New York Army National Guard uses Bambi Buckets, a specialized bucket made by SEI Industries which allows the crew to deliver a column of water on a fire.

"We met the objective, at least for our aircraft and our crew. We got everyone trained, we got our initial qualification done so I'd call that a success." Said 1st Lt. Forrest Thrush.