AVIATOR WATCHES FOR FOREST FIRES.
An aviator, L. A. Vilas, has been appointed to watch for fires in the region around Big Trout Lake in Wisconsin and he can, using his hydro-aeroplane, rise in a few minutes to an altitude of one thousand feet and survey two hundred thousand acres of forested land and if he detects smoke he can in a few minutes report to the district forestry headquarters, says a writer in “American Forestry,” according to the “Literary Digest,” which says: “The use of a flying machine is particularly valuable for this kind of work where the country is flat or where there are no high elevations upon which lookout stations may be placed. In flat or rolling lands lookout towers enable the observer to guard a territory of rather small area, whereas Aviator Vilas at the height of 1,000 feet can detect a fire thirty or forty miles away from the lake.” Mr. Vilas, it is stated, is working as a volunteer, giving his services to the State free of charge. He recently discovered a fire thirty miles off and on investigation it was found that he had made an accurate estimate of the distance. Mr. Vilas is quoted as saying: “The machine I am using is a standard Curtis four-passenger flying boat. This machine has an average speed of about sixty-two miles an hour in the air and forty miles an hour in the water, with a climbing capacity of 1,000 feet in three minutes. At an altitude of 1,000 feet a fire thirty or forty miles away is distinctly visible. I usually am flying every evening around 6 o’clock and I always reach an altitude which enables me to sec about forty miles in every direction, and if I do sec indications of fire I can report to the forestry headquarters at Trout Lake within three minutes.” D. W. Griffith, who was recently State Forester of Wisconsin, is quoted as follows: “It is generous of Mr. Vilas to offer these services to the State without charge. The other day I made an ascent with him and we detected a fire. By communicating with the rangers when we came down we found that it was a settler doing some clearing. The hydro-aeroplane will reach the place of a fire in only a few minutes, where otherwise hours would be consumed.”