DC-10 and 747 air tankers

The DC-10, designated as air tanker 910 and operated by 10 Tanker Air Carrier out of Victorville, California, is on contract for a second year to CalFire. It was used this weekend in northern California on some of the fires in Tehama County. Instead of reloading at Victorville as usual, it filled it’s 12,000 gallon tanks at CalFire’s air tanker base at McClellan. The company is also building a second DC-10 air tanker.

Evergreen International Aviation of Oregon expects to have their 747 air tanker under contract with the U.S. Forest Service within the next 2-5 weeks. It will carry 20,000 gallons and can cruise at mach .85, or 600 mph.

Here is a 19-second video of the DC-10 making a drop on the Humbolt fire near Chico, CA a week or two ago. Turn up the sound so you can hear the audio. The sound of those jet engines from an air tanker will be hard to get used to. When I first started fighting fire, some of the air tankers used the huge radial engines that have a sound you will hear no other place. Another big step was putting turbine engines in the smoke jumper’s DC-3; hard to get used to. Now jets dropping on fires? What’s next? Saturn 5 rockets carrying 1,000,000 gallons of retardant?

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One thought on “DC-10 and 747 air tankers”

  1. First of all, why is this tanker dropping suppression chemical outside the fire line? Supertankers are a great idea, however there seems to be far too much governmental politics and favoritism going on. Evergreen’s bird should have been USFS certified 2 years ago, but it seems to be more about winning favor with the right people than fighting the fires. I read where the 747 is equipped with the ability to not be detoured by smoke. Seems like it’s ability to make surgical pressurized drops would be a great gain on fire suppression, not to mention that it has the ability to “paint” a 5 mile line. IMHO the 747 has a better glide-ratio than the DC-10 and the ability to loiter longer and drop more. So, why is it that the ’47 has yet to get “picked-up”?Because, as cold as this sounds, firefighting is BIG BUSINESS and I believe that the consensus is that the Jumbo might work too good.I wonder just what the ratio of American to Foriegn contractors is on the Northern California fires? In ’02 the Bisuit Fire raged and chewed up a 405 mile fire line and had a birthday in the process. The Brookings Fire Camp was 6 miles from me. According to fire finance personell, less than 5% of the contractors were domestic. But we didn’t need to ask to know that, there were over 8,000 firefighters working from that camp(more than the population of the city!), only 50 made it to town over the 30 day period, less than 1%! BIG BUSINESS.I hope that someday we will actually see honest beneficial tools(like the 747)allowed to participate.Veteran of the Biscuit Fire.


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