Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Smoke Measurements Using a Helicopter Transported Sampling Package (NIST SP 995)



William D. Walton, Jay A. McElroy, W H. Twilley, R. R. Hiltabrand


A first generation smoke sampling package designed to be deployed on a helicopter winch cable has been developed. The package contains three sampling pumps which are operated via radio control from the helicopter. The pumps can be fitted with a variety of sampling trains and gas collection bags. The package also contains instruments for measuring and recording temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed, and package orientation. The package was tested using a Coast Guard HH-65A helicopter for aerodynamic stability without a fire and was then used to collect smoke samples from two 231 m2 diesel fuel fires at the U.S. Coast Guard Fire and Safety Test Detachment in Mobile, Alabama. An improved smoke sampling package designed to be suspended beneath a tethered helium filled miniblimp was also developed and used to collect samples from a 37 m2 diesel fuel fire. The burning rate for diesel fuel on water as indicated by the surface regression rate was found to be 0.074 + 0.00l mm/s. Smoke particle yields ranged from 9 to 14% of the mass of fuel burned. PAH concentrations on the smoke particle were measured. The cumulative size distribution of aerodynamic effective diameters for the diesel fuel smoke particulate were found to be similar to those previously measured for crude oil.
Special Publication (NIST SP) - 995
Report Number


oil spills, in situ combustion, smoke measurement, helicopters, sampling, instruments, experiments, burning rate, smoke yield, particle size distribution, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, regression rate


Walton, W. , McElroy, J. , Twilley, W. and Hiltabrand, R. (2003), Smoke Measurements Using a Helicopter Transported Sampling Package (NIST SP 995), Special Publication (NIST SP), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed April 17, 2024)
Created March 1, 2003, Updated February 19, 2017