One of the DC-10 air tankers has dropped about 373,600 gallons of retardant during 33 sorties on seven wildfires in Arizona and New Mexico over the last 10 days. The fires were: Little Bear fire, 257 fire, Grand fire, Poco fire, Six Shooter fire, Fox fire, and 177 fire. They were all in Arizona except the Little Bear which was in New Mexico.
Eight of the nine air tankers currently on exclusive use contracts with the U.S. Forest Service are 50+ year old P2Vs designed for maritime patrol. Their average retardant load is 1,948 gallons according to a 2007-2009 air tanker study. If all of those 373,600 gallons the DC-10 dropped in those 10 days had been delivered by a P2V it would have taken about 192 round trips to the fires.
The U.S. Forest Service has a call when needed contract with one of the two DC-10 air tankers. Yesterday and today the pilots are on mandatory days off, making it unavailable. The USFS is not interested in awarding exclusive use contracts for the DC-10 or the 747 air tankers. The 747 can carry 20,000 gallons of retardant, more than 10 times more than a P2V, while the DC-10 almost always carries 11,600 gallons, more than five times the average load of a P2V.
We originally posted this video shot by KASA TV of the DC-10 dropping on June 14, but in case you missed it….
Thanks go out to Trish and Ian.