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Thread: Second visit to Kefalonia and more forest fires

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  1. #1
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    Second visit to Kefalonia and more forest fires

    I told you women are ... strange, right? Well, Lena (being a woman) is compulsive, if she loves something, she just can't stay away from it. So near the end of August, she took advantage of our eldest son, who came visit us with his girlfriend and took us again to Kefalonia. Supposedly she wanted the kids to enjoy the beauty of the island, but I know that deep inside, it was her who wanted to go back and she grabbed the opportunity.

    So the Caradimas family engaged in another trip and here are some family pictures.


    The proud mother and her three sons, on the ship, at the port of Killini.


    Lena, Sergei (our eldest son), Lena's mother and Sergei's girlfriend, Julia.


    Titanic?!?!?!


    Lena with Julia and Jim.


    Alex was watching some cartoon videos when he fall asleep. Picture illumination provided by the MacBook screen.


    That's where the kids spend most of their time.


    View of the southern part of Kefalonia.


    Me with Sergei. He is the ... thin one.


    The three kids with a friend of Sergei.


    Spartia beach. When we left, that wooden pole was not standing up. Alex made sure that it was no longer spoiling the looks of the beach.


    Lourdas beach, "Our beach" as Lena calls it.


    A hotel entrance in Argostoli, the island's capital.

    What was strange though, was that the forest fires which started with the one near our house, around mid-August, followed us to Kefalonia. At least two of the occured while we were there, the first during our second day.

    That gave me the chance to shoot the small PZL fire planes used by the Greek Airforce. It was the only airplane that I had never photographed, it didn't participate in fighting of the fire near our house.















    The second fire also gave me the opportunity to admire the capabilities of those pilots flying those little planes. During one of the drops (these things carry retardant fluid, for which they have to return to their airport for reloading) one of the pilots, went high over the top of the mountain which was overhanging the fire area, and then flew down along the slope of the mountain, so that he hit the fire at the perfect spot. I've never seen any other pilot doing this, with any other plane, I assume the Canadairs are too big for such maneuvers. Considering that the time of the drop was well after sun-down, when the fire-fighting planes are not supposed to fly, I can only congratulate the pilot for his brave maneuver.

    One more thing.

    Last year, during another forest fire in Kefalonia, a PZL pilot lost his life when his little plane crashed in the yard of a "Rooms to Let" house, after hitting some power cables.




    Above photos courtesy of kefalloniapress.gr

    Col. Kotoulas could have avoided death, but he prefered to stay in his plane until the last moment, trying to avoid hitting the house, which he eventually did. For his bravery, the Kefalonian people build this small monument, right opposite the area he died.



    Godspeed Colonel.
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    http://www.m1911.org

  2. #2
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    Thumbs up

    Great Images John! I didn't know you owned such a huge yacht, or had such a tall child! I recall reading about Col. Kotoulas and his brave act, he is a true hero! Kefalonia looks like a spot in heaven.
    Certified NRA Instructor Pistol & Shotgun
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    "There Is No Greater High Than Defeating Armed Felons" Rich-D

  3. #3
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    Kefalonia is indeed a beautiful place. Evi and I made [too quick] a visit to the island earlier this summer, and we were really sad to have to go after only two days.

    Flying firebombing planes must seem like a glamour-less job, compared to flying Mach2-capable fighters, but the pilots tasked to fly these things seem to go well-beyond any official limits to do their job. They are not supposed to fly below 200 meters (~600 feet), but they are regularly seen flying BELOW high-voltage wires (I've seen a Canadair do that!), because, well, they just feel that they have to.

    Here in Crete we usually see only helicopters fighting fires. Canadairs and PZLs fly very slowly, so it doesn't make sense to station them on the island, in case they're needed elsewhere (Crete is to the extreme south of the country). They are usually flown by Russian crews, and they're not too shy about flying low, either...
    Too many people miss the silver lining because they're expecting gold.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich-D
    I didn't know you owned such a huge yacht, or had such a tall child!
    Rich, I do not even own a boat, let alone that huge ship.

    As for Sergei, he is Lena's son from her first marriage, and he is indeed tall.

    Quote Originally Posted by rekladan
    Flying firebombing planes must seem like a glamour-less job, compared to flying Mach2-capable fighters, but the pilots tasked to fly these things seem to go well-beyond any official limits to do their job.
    Quite so Spyros. During the last fire, which I was watching from the balcony of our rented room, I watched all their passes. The last one happened well after sunset (I was surprised to hear the planes coming back, their previous drop was just when the sun was disappearing from the horizon) and the maneuver the first pilot did (there were two of them) was something I didn't expect to see. I wish I had captured a sequence of the plane coming down along the slope of the mountain, but I was so startled when I saw him turning down from the top, that I just stand there, watching, unable to believe the pilot tried that, especially with almost no light. The pilot knew that it was his last chance to hit the fire and took the only available route at that time, to let his retardant fluid right on top of it. This guy deserves a medal just for that drop alone, I wish I knew his name. Maybe it's worthwhile to try and find it.
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
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    Last edited by John; 9th September 2010 at 03:13.


  5. #5
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    There must be a list of HAF pilots stationed there at the time, but (and this is the sad part) you'd probably get the guy in trouble if you thanked him publicly, by name... because he was breaking quite a few rules doing that he did.

    Still, I'd buy him a few drinks if I met him.

    Ironically, one reason we gave for NOT buying those impressive looking Russian firebombers (Beriev Be-200s) was that our pilots didn't think that they would be safe enough while flying extremely low - these things can carry 2.5 times as much water as a late-spec Canadair, but even though they're probably OK flying at 200 meters, they're too big to... break the rules.

    Incidentally, we're not supposed to call Canadairs by that name anymore... the company making them has been absorbed by its parent company, Bombardier, so now they're called Bombardier CL-215, CL-415 or CL-415MP. I don't think Greek TV reporters will notice this for a few more years, though...
    Too many people miss the silver lining because they're expecting gold.
    M. Setter


  6. #6
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    Well, I did some ... reporter work and here is what I found out.

    The two pilots who fly the PZLs at Kefalonia are Col. Petros Sarandos and Maj. Andrianos Beredimas.

    Guys, you make us proud, we thank you for what you do for your country, far beyond the call of duty. THANK YOU!
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    http://www.m1911.org
    Last edited by John; 1st September 2011 at 03:46.


  7. #7
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    How did you figure that out??

    Thank you gents, anyone who's seen you work, knows that you are true heros.
    Too many people miss the silver lining because they're expecting gold.
    M. Setter

  8. #8
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    Well, one of them had his name written on his PZL, so I just enlarged the picture enough to read it.

    Jokes apart, I just used my polite manners and did some calls.

    Petros is Col. Kotoulas replacement in Kefalonia.

    Darn, I missed your other post.

    Spyro, I would buy these guys more than one drink, after I shake their hands.

    As for the Russian planes, if memory serves me right (and there is no guarantee that it does any more), the Russian planes have a lot of other issues apart from being too big for the Greek territory. Their radios are not compatible with the frequencies used by the Greek Airforce or the Greek Fire Brigade. I think I've seen somewhere a picture of a Russian plane which was operating here in the past, which had a handheld VHF radio crudely attached to the dashboard, in order to communicate with the other planes etc.
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    http://www.m1911.org
    Last edited by John; 9th September 2010 at 04:57.


  9. #9
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    John,

    Beautiful photographs of an enchanting location. I'm sure you and the family had a wonderful time!

    As to the firefighting, I am in awe of what those pilots are able to do. We've had some devastating fires here in the States, lately, and the news footage of the courageous efforts of the firefighters, pilots, and U.S. Forest Service cannot be over-emphasized.
    Steve
    ***********************

  10. #10
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    Steve sorry to hear about the fires there. And I am sorry to hear about the floods in your area too, I hope everything is OK in your area now.

    Hey Texas floods were on the news right now. They said two people died. So sad.
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    http://www.m1911.org
    Last edited by John; 9th September 2010 at 05:10.


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