Estimated reading time 4 minutes, 33 seconds.
Michael Rogerson, who has a home in Oakville in California’s Napa Valley, invented patents that allow a helicopter to navigate so precisely that it can deliver firefighting materials within 2 feet of the intended location. For wildfires this means best applying fire retardant, or water just where firefighters need it to put out, or slow down new fires.
After several years of working with the U.S. Army on modernizing venerable Black Hawk UH-60 helicopters to prolong service life and meet FAA mandates for flying in controlled airspace, his digital electronics company, Rogerson Kratos, bought three surplus Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the U.S. Government BEST Program.
Recently, he purchased a home in Oakville, Napa. Wanting to give something for the community, he couldn’t help but notice the need to help with firefighting.
Previously, Napa County faced opposition from Cal Fire when a group of Napa Valley residents wanted to engage a fixed wing aircraft positioning for firefighting. One of the arguments Cal Fire officials noted was their helicopters hold more water. Rogerson’s helicopters are the military version of the same type of Sikorsky helicopters as Cal Fire operates.
Cal Fire statewide has ordered 12 Sikorsky S70i helicopter versions of the Army UH-60 and have received five.
Both Cal Fire and Rogerson Kratos versions are twin-engine, include night operation capabilities, have external cables for rescues, and can be equipped with a snorkel that can suck up 1000 gallons of water in less than a minute.
Other features include state-of-the-art avionics, high-definition cameras, forward looking infrared radar that detects hot spots, and searchlights.