BENDIGO Aviation Services is flying firefighters to bushfires across the state several times each day.
Owner and chief pilot Chris Gobel said the company picked up the firefighters in places such as Portland, Warrnambool, Mildura and Wangaratta, and flew them where they were needed.
He said the past few weeks had been busy, with several large fires requiring a lot of attention.
“It’s quite amazing,” he said.
“We’ve got a 10-seater aeroplane and we take seven crew with their baggage and safety gear to and from the fires.
“The past three or four weeks since the big fires started have been busy and I think it will continue until we have some good solid rain to put it out.”
Mr Gobel said the flights allowed the firefighters to spend more time at home than on buses.
“We’ve been travelling to Gippsland a lot and in the next week we’ll probably be ferrying crews to the Grampians as well because that fire’s still going,” he said.
“The crews are only allowed on jobs for five or six days a week and have to go home for a few days off.
“They haven’t got time to go home by bus and then back to the fires again.”
Mr Gobel said he was proud to be able to help out.
“I’ve been involved in fire services since I’ve been with the company,” he said. “I joined in 1990.
“I was in Wangaratta on Saturday picking up crews to take to Mildura.
“The visibility was quite reduced by smoke haze, but that’s all part of the job.”
The company is also one of few businesses in the country that trains pilots to all levels of accreditation.
“We get inquiries as far as Broome, Darwin and Cairns,” Mr Gobel said.
“We’ve been going for 40 years, which is rather unique for an aviation company.
“We also fly doctors around a fair bit, on a weekly basis.
“There’s a shortage of specialists and if they drove to places like Mildura and Swan Hill, they’d spend more time driving than treating patients.”