The Russian-made amphibious BE-200 air tanker arrived at Santa Maria, California, as promised, on Wednesday. It is open for viewing by the public at the Radisson Hotel, 3455 Airpark Dr., from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. On Monday it will make a demonstration flight and water drop at the airport, according to David Baskett, president of TTE International Inc., who hopes to acquire a fleet of 10 BE-200’s and lease them to air tanker operators in the United States. A press release from the company says the aircraft will scoop water from Lake Cachuma on Monday if permits can be obtained.
As Wildfire Today reported earlier, the BE-200 can carry up to 3,000 gallons of retardant loaded at an airport, or water it scoops from a lake. A couple of media outlets are getting a little too excited about the aircraft. KEYT.com states in an article that it can carry 270 tons of water, which would convert to 67,000 gallons, a remarkable feat, if it were true. The manufacturer claims this purpose-built air tanker can drop that amount on one fuel cycle, if a scoopable water source is nearby. A reporter on a KSBY video, Ariel Wesler, said the aircraft can drop 5,000,000 gallons on a fire without refueling, which would entail scooping and dropping 1,666 times. Another remarkable feat, if it were true.
Wildfire Today thanks Michael Lynn who took these photos of the Be-200 at Santa Maria, published here with his permission.