DC-10 air tanker sent home

DC-10 Tanker 911
DC-10 Tanker 911
DC-10 Tanker 911, July 2, 2012 on the Shingle fire in Utah. Photo by Scott G. Winterton (Click to see a larger version.)

The DC-10 Very Large Air Tanker, Tanker 911, was released June 16 from their Call When Needed assignment by the U.S. Forest Service and sent home, told they were no longer needed. Here are some photos of the aircraft in action over the last couple of weeks on the Shingle Fire in Utah and the Robbers Fire in California. Click on the photos to see larger versions.

Between July 9 and 16 Tanker 911 flew 11 sorties and dropped approximately 127,600 gallons of retardant on the following fires in Oregon, California, and Idaho: Sites, Long Draw, Stout, Miller Homestead, Robbers, and Calf.

Earlier we reported that the DC-10 dropped 373,600 gallons on 33 sorties from June 12 through June 21. If all of those 373,600 gallons had been delivered by a P2V it would have taken about 192 round trips to the fires.

HERE is a link to a video news report about the air tanker from a TV station in Sacramento.

DC-10 Tanker 911
DC-10 Tanker 911, July 2, 2012 on the Shingle fire in Utah. Photo by Scott G. Winterton
DC-10 Tanker 911 on the Robbers Fire
DC-10 Tanker 911 on the Robbers Fire in California July 15, 2012. Photo by David Wilson. (Click to see a larger version.)
DC-10 Tanker 911 on the Robbers fire
DC-10 Tanker 911 on the Robbers fire in California, July 15, 2012. Photo by David Wilson. (Click to see a larger version.)

Thanks go out to Trish

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+

17 thoughts on “DC-10 air tanker sent home”

  1. I saw Tanker 123 crash- It was dropping retardant for interior spots. As they often are, it was for publicity more than anything.

    I digress.

    It’s a shame that the Russian and their dismal record of aviation safety do better than us. I’m dont with VLAT fill the niches of C130s, P2,3,and4s, but we need something. If we can spent trillions on development on weapons for un-winnable wars why can we spend money and fighting WINNABLE fights at home.

  2. Look, Nationally we are at PL3. Unfortunately that is how risk management is done. They will be called back. Whether 10AC can or accept those terms or not, is of no concern to MAC or anyone else, apparently. It rained in RMC…. IT’S OVER….. Or is it? The PL matrix is so utterly antiquated as to be a pathetic joke. But the operators don’t get to make that decision. My advise is to show the actual start up cost (which is required EVERY time they are mobilized). This is simply a guess on my part….. But I’m assuming since that “one” big fire happened in NOPS…. They released it “KNOWING” that CalFire would pick it up on their contract…. and the feds could use it without paying the availability on a daily basis…. That’s just a guess. So…. we really are at the very beginning of the western fire season, and we’ve reduced or fixed wing aerial capability to 10? is that right? Mixed intel at this point….

  3. Very quickly… By “operators” I mean those out there doing the job, fire fighters, aerial supervisors, etc. not necessarily Contract operators, coordinators, etc.

  4. I hope I’m wrong, but this appears to me to be the end of the VLATs.

    I don’t see how anyone can continue to spend the $$ to have a VLAT available on a short term CWN contract, especially after they have spent so much on speculation developing and testing it, hoping to get a reasonable contract from the USFS.

    While I agree that the VLATs are not right for every situation, I think they are important for many situations.

    I guess it is time to go back to the bucket brigade – who needs aerial support?

  5. USDA Forest Service Budget for 2012.

    – 19% Reduction in Wildfire Management for 2012 over last year…about a $400 million reduction.

    – 24% Reduction in Supression Reserve Fund for 2012 over last year… about $100 million reduction.

    How is the USFS going to chop $400 million out of their 2012 Wildfire Budget over last year? Aviation assets will be reduced by $127 million over last year is one area. (They shuffled aviation from suppression to preparedness line items and reduced it by 27.7% over last year.) Hazardous fuels budget was also reduced by $86 million.

    At the same time the Large Airtanker Modernization Strategy reports the US is in a 20 year drought cycle, complicated by expanded wildland urban interface and hazardess fuel buildup. For the rationally minded this means wildfire costs will increase. Washington politicians and accountants think otherwise and instead budgeted a reduction.

    The wildfires in June no doubt blew a large chunk of 2012 Wildfire Budget. The easy to lose resources get chopped early.

    The USFS have a real talent for initiating studies, dithering, and bankrupting their contractors. Sad to see yet another on the verge of shutting down.

    10 Tanker Air Carrier you guys have done some awesome work and deserve a better fate.

    1. spot on and we are just starting to dry out in the Pac NW inland.. and lots of high grass..

  6. Your kidding me right? Incredible. I guess Harbour is getting his wish (kill the VLATS) no matter if its right or not. Did anyone see the latest guidance on the VLATS from NMAC? More productive and cheaper than legacy tankers (no I am not making it up). It does not matter to me if you are a P3 or other lover this is just wrong. There is no explaination for this other than corruption or imcompetance. In time someone will prove it is one or the other. Thanks to the tanker 10 guys. They did good.

  7. Scott,

    Tanker 123 was NOT dropping on interior “spots”.

    I suggest you look at the Russian aircraft safety record.

    P-4s? What the heck is that?

    Lay off the political BS… Your point was?

  8. I wonder if NIFC will post on their home page any of these DC 10 pictures? How much has been spent on suppression so far this fire season? Doesn’t seem to be a dollar problem when ordering and using every helicopter operator in the country who fights fire. Maybe “10” should put a fake rotor on top of their tankers. It must be raining in Boise, which indicates fire season is almost over.

  9. How can the MAFFS still be on? The DC 10 is probably the cost of the fleet of rent cars the MAFFS guys use alone. How can the military be used to put a private company out if business?
    A CWN is much more expensive than a exclusive over a long period of time but a short call up is probably a call for extinction considering the plane is full time airtanker. I think I will write a Congressman. Hope others do as well. USFS fire aviation leadership is broken.

    1. Already stood in a meeting with
      Greg Walden R. Oregon -what is
      in my humble opinion, needed in this industry. As a citizen who has a vague
      idea of what is going on. He apparently
      did not know that MAFFS was produced by Aero Union. Also, he was aware of the VLATS and the problem of NOT
      using them. There is a place for both VLATS and Legacy Tankers.
      We are not done with Fire Season…

  10. What ever happened to the government not being allowed to compete against a private contractor? The fire season hasn’t even come close to starting yet in the west! We are going to need all the help we can get here shortly. Sure the Dc-10 is expense but it’s alot cheaper than the man hours needed fight these fires. Not to mention that ground firefighters that are federal employees are limited to how many days than can fight a fire.

    1. Mike B., you might actually look at the costs per gallon of retardant. Gallon for gallon, the 10 is cheaper… Unfortunately, most people don’t realize that.

  11. Well, unless a miracle happens 10 Tanker Air Carrier have 119 days left until their doors shut permanently. UGH!!!!!

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