This week’s blog looks back 12 months to the Taree Airport NSW Rural Fire Service Airbase, at the peak of the fires, there were 24 helicopters & 4 fixed-wing bombers. Here is a list of the aircraft photographed during that time.

Sydney Helicopters

  • Firebird 231, VH-BLR
  • Helitak 276, VH-JWO


  • Firebird 260, VH-ZHM


  • Firebird 296, VH-ZMH


  • Helitak 227, VH-FHD
  • Helitak 225, VH-FHB

Kestrel Aviation

  • Helitak 330, VH-NSY
  • Helitak 333, VH-KHO
  • Helitak 739, N247AC (Erickson Air-Crane “JERRY”)

Microflite Helicopter Services

  • Firebird 286, VH-YJB
  • Helitak 338, VH-JJR
  • Firebird 303, VH-ZHS
  • Firebird 208, VH-XXM

Wildcat Helicopters

  • Helitak 274, C-FWTQ

Touchdown Helicopters

  • Helitak 229, VH-OXI
  • Firebird 224, VH-AGL

Valhalla Helicopters

  • Helitak 251, C-GIUP
  • Helitak 252, C-FPSZ

NSW RFS/Careflight

  • Firebird 200, VH-NFO
  • Helitak 201, VH-VRP

Precision Helicopters

  • Firebird 297, VH-ANC

Skyline Aviation

  • Firebird 285, VH-EGJ

Calibre Aviation

  • Firebird 424, VH-WEB

Fleet Helicopters

  • Firebird 210, VH-JOW

These helicopters were all in attendance of the NSW RFS Section 44 fires that were burning out of control in the Forster/Tuncurry, Taree, Harrington & Port Macquarie areas. 

A “Section 44” refers to the New South Wales Rural Fires Act 1997, specifically section 44, Commissioner’s responsibility. It essentially means that the Rural Fire Service Commissioner declares a localised “State of Emergency” for a specific district suffering severe fire conditions that cannot be managed without drawing in extensive resources from other areas.

Once declared by the Commissioner the district has access to any and all fire-fighting personnel/equipment from across the State at no cost to the district or RFS, with the State Government footing the bill of all related Section 44 declared operations.

A couple of weeks after taking these photos, Helitak 229, VH-OXI suffered a driveshaft failure whilst undertaking water bombing tasks. This failure resulted in a very hard landing where VH-OXI sustained substantial damage.

Images and blog supplied:

Jayden – Aviation photographer based in the greater Newcastle area with a strong interest in helicopter & general aviation photography

You can find more images from Jayden on Facebook and Instagram