Letter to the editor: The fire spotters you didn’t know about | SummitDaily.com

Letter to the editor: The fire spotters you didn’t know about

Brian Anton
Dillon and Paradise Valley, Arizona

It’s difficult to watch the news without mention of the horrific forest fires engulfing the western United States. We’ve all seen clips of the hundreds of fire towers manned by dedicated individuals with binoculars searching critical areas for any signs of smoke. However, there’s another huge source of fire spotting that I’ve never heard mentioned in the media: airliners!

At any given time, there are thousands of jets cruising the U.S. at 7 or 8 miles above the ground with an incredible view of the ground below (when there is daylight, obviously). I’m a retired military and commercial pilot of 41 years. I’ve reported numerous white puffs of smoke to air traffic control, which is instrumental in reporting this to the U.S. Forest Service.

It’s amazing the distances we can see on a clear day at 40,000 feet. Air traffic control will usually get several reports from different airliners in different positions. From this information, they can triangulate pretty accurate positions for a beginning fire. God bless the folks that selflessly risk their lives to save other lives and property. It takes no bravery at all for pilots to point out fires they see. I just thought you should know there are thousands of eyes in the sky looking out every day.

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