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Caught on camera: Australian pilots fly into blood-red skies
Published Monday, January 6, 2020 5:09PM EST
TORONTO -- Australian air force pilots are sharing just how difficult it was for them to fly above the wildfires that have been ravaging the country since September.
A video released Monday by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) showed views from the cockpit as their planes flew through thick, red-smoke-filled skies. The footage helps to illustrate how difficult it is for pilots who are part of rescue and firefighting operations.
The video -- posted on the RAAF Facebook and RAAF-related Twitter pages -- was pieced together from two separate hellish shots of pilots flying over Mallacoota, Victoria and Merimbula, New South Wales in Australia.
In Mallacoota, at least 4,000 people have fled the beaches to flee the fires, including one Canadian family who spent six days hiding in a movie theatre.
In both clips in the video, the red and orange skies completely obscure the pilots’ vision, with the posts describing how neither of the planes were able to land safely.
“They're very challenging and dynamic conditions out there. Even though our crews are highly trained and professional, heavy smoke from bushfires means they’re not always able to complete the mission on the first try,” the Facebook post read.
The New South Wales Rural Fire Service said 136 fires were burning across the state as of Monday morning, with 69 uncontained.
The deadly fires have been raging since autumn and have burned away nearly 5 million hectares. They’ve claimed 24 lives and destroyed almost 2,000 homes across three states.