747 air tanker deployed in California

747 Supertanker
Tanker 979 at San Bernardino Air Tanker Base, July 30, 2010

Evergreen’s 747 “Supertanker”, Tanker 979, was activated yesterday and used on Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Crown fire (map) near Palmdale.

Tanker 979 dropping on the Crown Fire
Tanker 979 dropping on the Crown Fire July 30, 2010. Photo: Kit Fox

When it was dispatched it was at Pinal Airpark near Marana, Arizona. From there it flew at 616 mph (Mach 0.81) at 28,000 feet and landed at San Bernardino International Airport 55 minutes later. According to John Miller, Deputy Public Affairs Officer for the San Bernardino National Forest who provided the first and third of these photos, it is being supported by the USFS’ San Bernardino Airtanker Base.

The tanks on the Supertanker have a capacity of 21,000 gallons, but yesterday, due to density altitude, it only carried 19,000 gallons in the single drop it made on the Crown fire, according to Leslie Casavan, Manager of the Airtanker Base. ONLY. That’s almost twice as much as the huge DC-10 Tanker 911, and six times as much as the “large air tankers” that have a maximum capacity of 3,000 gallons, such as a C-130.

KESQ has a good video report about the Supertanker.

The USFS has the huge air tanker under a Call When Needed contract this year. CAL FIRE may also have it under a CWN contract.

747 air tanker 979
Tanker 979 at San Bernardino Air Tanker Base, July 30, 2010. USFS photo.

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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.