Aerial fighfighter back in Bruns after five month mission
AERIAL firefighter Peter Jones is back home with his family after spending the better part of five months fighting fires in three states.
Despite nearly 30 years experience as a second-generation agricultural pilot, the Brunswick Heads resident said flying a 3000-litre purpose-built "fire-bombing machine" is a unique experience.
"Offloading three tonnes of water in a matter of seconds certainly puts you in your seat," said Peter, who co-owns the family company founded by his father in 1974.
"There is quite a bit of updraft when you release, so you have to be ready and on the ball."
Starting last August at the beginning of Queensland's fire season before moving on to northern NSW and Victoria, Peter said the complex nature of each fire keeps him on his toes.
"I really enjoy the challenge of getting the best out of a machine in the most extreme conditions," he said.
The father of four said it was the ferocious fire at Warrumbungle National Park in January, which destroyed 49 homes and most of the nature reserve, that most sticks in his mind. "We ended up working on the western side and I'll never forget first flying over it - it was just haunting," Peter said. "There was no sign of life anywhere. I found that really disturbing."
Seeing natural landscapes burnt beyond recognition and people's livelihoods decimated in minutes is a part of the job Peter said he'll never get used to.
"If you've been working to save a house or a property and the fire gets away from you, well, that's pretty devastating," he said.