DC-10 air tankers have dropped more retardant than the MAFFS C-130s

Two, DC-10 air tankers
10 Tanker Air Carrier’s two DC-10 Very Large Air Tankers. Photo: 10 Tanker

The two DC-10 air tankers operated by 10 Tanker Air Carrier have dropped more retardant this year than the seven to eight Modular Airborne FireFighting System (MAFFS) C-130 aircraft flown by the military. The DC-10s have dropped, according to 10 Tanker, 2.408 million gallons through August 27 during 215 flights for an average of 11,200 gallons per flight.The MAFFS, according to the August 29 Government Security News, have dropped 2.153 million gallons through August 24, employing 899 flights to do so. This indicates an average of 2,394 gallons per flight for the MAFFS aircraft.

The DC-10s have a Call When Needed contract with the U.S. Forest Service and are only activated when the USFS decides to use them. This year one of them, Tanker 911, was called up (these dates are approximate) June 11 and released on June 16. It was reactivated around August 3 and the second DC-10, Tanker 910, was put on active duty on approximately August 7.

One of the eight MAFFS C-130s crashed July 1, 2012 while dropping on the White Draw fire west of Hot Springs, South Dakota, killing four crewpersons and injuring two. While the military has many C-130s, there were only eight of the second generation MAFFS2 units which can be loaded into the cargo hold of the aircraft making it possible for it to hold up to 3,000 gallons of fire retardant. And of course the crew can’t be replaced, only substituted.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

14 thoughts on “DC-10 air tankers have dropped more retardant than the MAFFS C-130s”

  1. It didn’t take long to start down loading the MAFFs C-130’s. 2394 per sortie, that is some very expensive p.r. retardant. Let a private vendor try that. Being raised in aviation/fire since 1959 (first flying lesson) I am still curious about certain aviation events. Where is Amelia Earhart’s final resting place. What really happened to world record holder Steve Fossett over the Inyo N.F, and the most baffling of aviation mysteries, what is the real story behind why the Fed’s won’t contract immediate need VLAT tankers? As with most aviation stories of mystery we the public will probably never know.

  2. Insert: “Rolling my eyes emoticon”

    Amelia Earhartt? Steve Fossett?

    “The most baffling of aviation mysteries”?

    No wonder the reputation of pilots in the eyes of the general public is so poor these days.

    Sometimes I embarrassed to admit I hold a certificate.

    Can we get some engaging conversation please?

  3. I’d be curious what Neptune has dropped this year. Pretty impressive amount of retardant dropped by the 10’s. Just shows the state of the airtanker fleet when we’re asking National Guard 130’s to fly almost 900 missions and drop over 2 million gallons of retardant.

  4. Unfortunately dropping lots of retardant says little about the success of the aerial firefighting strategy employed by the firefighting agency. Surely that is the measure of success.

  5. Agree, quantity is not the measuring stick. However, the simple volume is amazing. It’s too bad we’re in the position that we must rely on 130’s to drop 2 million gallons or retardant. And with that need, I think a contract for the VLAT’s is probably simply justified with average success.

  6. Tanker 10 and all private carriers need a highlight film. Prove to government agencies that having air tankers on a fire changed the outcome and saved the tax payer money. You need to be your biggest cheerleader. Look at the trinity ridge fire. Lots of flights and no results, that’s what the media picks up on. Celebrate your initial attack success!

    Just saying that you dropped more red slurry than the other guy doesn’t mean anything if it wasn’t on time, on target, and didn’t change the outcome.

  7. I don’t feel entitled to anything… Certificate or not.

    I’m very interested in more than just the common names you mention. I respect them so much, in fact, that I think it’s disrespectful to include the Feds lack of VLAT contracting on such a short list. The comparisons make no sense.

    Don’t get me wrong, I happen to agree that they should receive a contract. But such outlandish statements are negatively affecting credibility.

    I enjoy unbiased, factual, forward thinking discussion.

  8. Mr. Kelley Andersson mentioned in his recent comment the the name Ornbaum. If you like fire aviation and didn’t know Don Ornbaum take a few minutes to read the web site listed. Words can’t to imbrace who this man was and what he accomplished. I was blessed to have worked with Mr. Ornbaum. (Don probably wouldn’t have said it exactly like that)

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