The Martin Mars 7,200-gallon air tanker, air tanker 223, has been somewhat busy over the last few days, but not as busy as the company would like, apparently. Someone on Twitter who calls themselves “HawaiiMars” and knows a lot about the company complains each day that they do not have an assignment. For example:
- Sept. 1 at 12:22 a.m. (referring to August 31): “The Mars sat on the Lake all day and didn’t fly one mission, suprising with all the fires burning”
- Sept. 1 at 12:26 p.m.: “Mars still sitting on Lake Elsinore not flying”
- Sept. 1 at 1:16 p.m.: “Mars still not flying”
- Sept. 1 at 3:22 p.m.: “Fires Still Burning, Mars still Sitting On The Lake”
But in spite of the whining, since August 15 they have worked on the La Brea, Cottonwood, Oak Glen, and Station fires. In 4.5 hours on the initial attack of the Oak Glen fire on August 30 they made 9 drops for a total of 50,000 gallons. That is a shitload of water from one air tanker in 4.5 hours. Most likely they mixed Class A foam concentrate or Thermo-Gel with the water.
Yesterday on the Station fire they made three drops of Thermo-Gel for a total of 14,000 gallons.
Apparently they have only been able to carry about 4,600 to 5,500 gallons the last few days, due to the altitude of the fires and the density-altitude. Mt. Wilson is at 5,700 feet.
The aircraft is versatile, in that it can drop plain water scooped from a lake, water with Class A foam, or water mixed with gel concentrate like it dropped on Mt. Wilson on Tuesday. If a lake is close that they can use for scooping, the aircraft can put a lot of liquid on a fire in a hurry. Today “HawaiiMars” claimed:
“The Hawaii is one of the least expensive tankers, our Daily Cost Per Gallon averages less then $2.00 per gallon delievered”