Wildfire magazine’s cover featured Tanker 11

Wildfire cover, May-June, 2012The May/June issue of Wildfire magazine that arrived in mailboxes several weeks ago featured a cover photo of Tanker 11 dropping on a fire in Texas last year. This is the same air tanker that crashed on Sunday, killing the two-person crew.

You can’t see the “11” on the tail of the tanker in the photo to the left here, or in the photos at the Wildfire web site, but trust me, I can see it on the cover of the magazine I have in front of me. This was also pointed out in an email sent to all members of the International Association of Wildland Fire in an email today describing the recent magazine issue.

I don’t believe in curses, fate, or jinxes, but this reminds me of the Sports Illustrated “cover jinx”, in which a person who appears on the cover of the magazine is supposed to be jinxed or experience bad luck.

This issue of the magazine features an excellent article by Walt Darran, in which Mr. Darran, who has a great deal of experience in the aviation and air tanker industry, writes about the future of the air tanker program. You should read the article, but here are some of the points he makes.

  • In spite of what you may hear from the U.S. Forest Service and the still unreleased RAND Corporation report, we need a mix of various types of air tankers in our tool box, not just C-130Js.
  • Having enough air tankers for fast, effective initial attack while fires are small is important. Taking into account the increased fire activity, Mr. Darran says we should have “40 to 50 or more Type 1, 2, and 3 air tankers”.
  • The state of California’s air tanker program could be a model, with Government-Owned, Contractor-Operated air tankers working side by side with a fleet of helicopters that are Government-Owned, Government-Operated.
  • Since it is unrealistic to expect operators of expensive aircraft to maintain the availability of air tankers and crews on a Call When Needed contract, a retainer should be supplied to cover costs of maintaining the aircraft airworthiness and crew currency so it is available when we need it. “Imagine SEAL Team 6 on a CWN contract” Mr. Darran wrote.

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please read the commenting rules before you post a comment.

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.

2 thoughts on “Wildfire magazine’s cover featured Tanker 11”

  1. I don’t know, Gary

    But I perused the RAND site last week and the had plnty o studies about the DoD and their program ups and downs

    I really think it’s USFS FAM blowing smoke up our fourth point of contact and maybe some politcos will get ahold of the report and get the money back and reallocate it to a better cause….probably in my dreams..

    But there is hope yet that Congress and Western senators will take the Circus to task…matter of time

  2. Walt Darren has great points. Too bad USFS Fire Aviation Management only listens to themselves. The dirty little secret in DC is that whenever you need a paper to support your agenda you get the Rand to write it based on selected input.


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