CL-415 Clips Barge, Continues Takeoff
Some holidaygoers in a riverside community in the south of France got an airshow plus some drama on Sunday when an air tanker taking off from the Rhone River hit a barge’s mast with its wing. “It is a miracle that there have been no [deaths],” a spokesman for the harbor office at Vallabregues told local media. The Canadair CL-415 was the second of two taking off from the river after loading water to fight a nearby forest fire. People aboard the barge can be heard in the accompanying video exclaiming at how close the first aircraft passes to the barge and whoever shot the video appears to have dropped his or her phone as the wing of the second flying boat severs the mast.
The video ends there but apparently, the sturdy aircraft continued the takeoff and landed safely at Nimes, a short distance away. According to the Fire Aviation website, the aircraft will be repaired within weeks and be put back in service. French officials released this translated statement. “The wing of the firefighting plane is damaged. It will be unavailable for several weeks," the statement said. The pilots were reported to be experienced and knew the stretch of water and were given the rest of the day off for a medical check. The 75-acre fire near Collias was brought under control later in the day.