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Napa resident owns Black Hawk UH-60 helicopters that can help fight wildfires

Rogerson Kratos Press Release | June 7, 2021

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.

Rogerson Kratos bought three surplus Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the U.S. Government BEST Program. Rogerson Kratos Photo

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.

Rogerson’s solution is mostly ready to go, as his company has worked with these helicopters for years and has pilots, maintenance people, and spare parts to support them. What the helicopter needs to be most effective is to be in a dedicated central location in Napa Valley to position instant response.

The company’s aircraft are always maintained to both FAA and the U. S. Army’s highest standards. They have been modernized to all current FAA navigation and surveillance standards. Of course, many California communities face this threat and there can be several fires simultaneously in different places.

The best way to guarantee response availability is with a dedicated helicopter located close to any potential fire in Napa Valley. That requires a central location like Oakville that can delivery retardants within minutes for home structures, imperiled vineyards, or hillsides threatened by wildfires.

His answer is taking one of the already company owned Black Hawks and dedicating it to help fighting fires by positioning the aircraft right in the middle of Napa Valley at his hilltop location. This will require regional governmental approval and the building of a helipad.

Rogerson recently reached out to Cal Fire. It would be hoped that with the critical need to stop wildfires in their beginnings, his help can start soon.

This press release was prepared and distributed by Rogerson Kratos.

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