Evergreen’s 747 Supertanker is en route to Mexico to help suppress five fires that are burning in the state of Coahuila, which shares a border with Texas. The aircraft departed Pinal Air Park near Tucson this afternoon and arrived at Lackland Air Force base near San Antonio, Texas at 5:21 MT today.
Steve Daniels of Evergreen told Wildfire Today that he expects the 747 to make its first drops later today. Lackland is about 140 miles from the fires, 15-20 minutes in a 747, so the Supertanker will be based at Lackland and will be reloading retardant there also. The Supertanker cruises at 500-550 knots (575 to 632 mph), which will mean the ship can do turn-arounds in about an hour, that is, depart Lackland, travel to the fires, drop, return, and reload. Evergreen has arranged for ICL Performance Products to have four to five trucks waiting at Lackland with tanks of already-mixed retardant.
Daniels said the Supertanker will be working through Conafor, the Comisión Nacional Forestal.
Ben Johnston from Evergreen International Airlines told Wildfire Today this afternoon that their 747 Supertanker, Air Tanker 979, is being deployed to help fight the wildfires in Israel. He said they are scrambling to get to Tel Aviv with an expected arrival at midnight Saturday after which they will go into crew rest. They expect to be ready to operate in the country on Sunday.
Earlier today Wildfire Today covered the international response to the fires in Israel which includes approximately 24 firefighting aircraft from 11 countries. But make that 25 aircraft from 12 countries now that the 747 is involved.
UPDATE @ 10:29 p.m. MT, December 3, 2010
The 747 departed KMZJ (Pinal Airpark) at 10:09 PM MST enroute to KJFK (John F Kennedy Intl) for an estimated arrival at 02:01 a.m. MST. They are cruising at 626 mph! Where’s the fire? Oh, right.
UPDATE @ 10:00 a.m. MT, December 4, 2010
The 747 Supertanker departed JFK today at 5:57 a.m. MT. Their ETA at Ben Gurion International (LLBG/TLV) in Israel is 4:11 p.m. MT. As this is written,they are cruising at 503 to 575 mph and are halfway across the Atlantic Ocean.
We have an updated article on the fires in Israel, including information about the U.S. National Guard’s C-130 MAFFS air tankers being deployed to Israel.
Evergreen’s 747 “Supertanker”, Tanker 979, was activated yesterday and used on Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Crown fire (map) near Palmdale.
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.
Evergreen has moved their 747 air tanker, or Supertanker, from Oregon to the Gulfport, Mississippi airport in hopes of getting a contract to drop dispersants on the Gulf oil spill. The company is talking with BP, the Coast Guard, and the Air force, giving them the facts about the 20,000-gallon capacity of the huge air tanker. Currently two C-130’s are being usedto drop dispersants, each carrying 5,000 gallons.
Evergreen’s 747 “Supertanker” made its first drop on a live fire in the lower 48 states today. Flying out of McClellan near Sacramento it made at least two drops on the Station fire. It split its 20,000 gallon capacity into two separate drops of about 10,000 gallons each, without having to make the 55-minute one-way return trip to McClellan to reload.
The Fox TV station out of Los Angeles got two of the drops on tape. Click on the image below to play the video. (UPDATE: the video is no longer available)
The plane may also have dropped earlier in the day on a fire near Yucaipa, southeast of Los Angeles.
As Wildfire Today reported on July 30, the 747 made its first drop on a live fire in Spain in mid-July. The second fire it dropped on was the Railbelt Complex in Alaska on July 31. If it also dropped on the Yucaipa fire earlier today, then the Station fire was the fourth fire it has dropped on.
Here are a couple of screen grabs from today’s video.
Below is the photo of the 747 on the Railbelt Complex in Alaska on July 31 that we published on August 1.
The 747 air tanker made two free drops on the Railbelt complex in Alaska on Friday. Evergreen, who built and operates the “Supertanker”, made the drops at no cost to Fairbanks Area Forestry in an effort to demonstrate the capabilities of the aircraft. They made two drops, dispensing a total of 20,000 gallons of retardant.
This was the first time the aircraft has dropped on a live fire in North America. Last week they made a similar demonstration drop on a fire in Spain, which was the first time they had dropped on an actual fire.
In spite of the 747 drops, the Railbelt complex grew by 67,000 acres on Friday, for a new total of 443,447 burned acres.
Smokejumpers, hand crews, and hot shot crews are protecting 226 cabins that are threatened along the Tanana, Teklanika, Toklat and Kantishna Rivers. On Friday smokejumpers delivered an all terrain vehicle by paracargo to a crew at Totek Lake.
Smoke from fires in Alaska on Friday caused two Northwest Airlines flights scheduled to land in Fairbanks to be diverted to Anchorage.