Video and photos of the 747 dropping

Since the Evergreen 747 Supertanker may be coming back into our lives it might be a good time to refresh our memories of what it can do with 20,000 gallons.

These two photos was taken by a firefighter in Mexico in 2011. (UPDATE: Walt said in a comment June 20 the two photos below are from an  “unpressurized ‘clean out’ (jettison)”. Videos of T979 dropping on fires show appropriate drop altitudes. One of the pilots on the clean-out jettison was a highly regarded 16-year initial attack airtanker pilot that would have mutinied if a drop on a fire was done at that AGL altitude.”)

747 dropping on a fire
747 dropping on a fire in Mexico, April 14, 2011 (click to enlarge)
747 in Mexico, April 14, 2011
747 in Mexico, April 14, 2011 (click to enlarge)

The first video, below, is a KABC-TV News segment from May 31st, 2006 covering the 747 Supertanker demo in San Bernardino, CA. The video also includes some stock footage of the aircraft dropping during the Interagency AirTanker Board tests.

The second video below shows the 747 dropping water at Central Ciudad Real in Spain, July 21, 2009.

And next we have the 747 dropping on the Crown Fire at Anaverde, which I believe is near Palmdale, California, July 31, 2010.

And finally, below, a water dropping demo at McClellan in California, June 11, 2009.

18 thoughts on “Video and photos of the 747 dropping”

  1. Speachless, the Mexico pictures where ………….? How can you invest $50 plus million into a project and show the world of aerial fire fighting what you (not) have to offer. Good thing they weren’t working for a farmers (crop dusting). What is the real story?

  2. Just for fun, I checked Google Earth to see if it showed up there. Sure enough, you can see a bird’s eye view of 979 in all her two-engined glory right here:

    32° 30.182’N, 111° 19.318’W

    1. What on earth is going on? Ya think that it would be ah, flying shape for contract CWN or not.

      1. The Google imagery was captured in October 2012, and the pic linked in Bill’s article was taken in February 2012. I would assume the airplane has been overhauled since these images were taken, otherwise the contract likely would not have been awarded.

    2. Good find, Jason. From the overhead view, you can’t tell if it’s up on blocks. I wonder if the tires were stolen too? 😉 HERE is a direct link to the location on Google Maps.

  3. Maybe they wanted to stay beyond AK-47 range from the weed farmers in Mexico.

    “Que’ esta’ eso; Agent Orange?”

  4. Triple A fire, good point. Who knows what is being launched or discharged in the jungles (forest) of Mexico?

  5. “Tanker 979, air attack”
    “Air attack, go ahead”
    “You were a little high on that pass. Load and return”
    “Roger that”
    “For the next drop, let’s drop down below 3000 AGL and bump about 10 wing spans to the left”
    “??????!!!!!!!”

  6. Since there are folks talking about drop height here and myself being corrected by Mr Ken Swartz about the happenings in Israel when Evergreen was there……

    Let’s make areal world assumption here since Evergreen is in the aircraft refurb/reman/overhaul/rework and even aircraft reclamation process

    Maybe if those were Pratt and Whitney JT9D engines and IF those two engines were near overhaul or were nearing P&W inspection specs and IF Evergreen is paying Pratt and Whitney “Power by the Hour” after all their recent missions….does one suppose this is why the engines are MIA?

    Let’s make other assumptions/ questions:

    Is Evergreen doing the engine work themselves?
    Is Pratt and Whitney doing the engine work?
    Is Evergreen outsourcing the engine install /work locally or nationally?
    Is the contract for July1st? Bet those boys will have engines on inside of 3 days?
    Is the USFS ready to handle another VLAT in the system?
    Are the IC and others going to go the UTF routes?
    Are the IC ready for a possibly larger drop than a DC10?
    Is there a Safety Officer on site or in sight that will be looking up and not down at his / her new White or Nicks Boots?
    Are the pilots of these fine machines questioning every stroke of a Pulaski or a shovel of a firefighter, like some here question drop height effectiveness?
    Are some of these pilots comfortable NOW with what they need to know for “correct drop heights” as ascertained by “ground truthers” (aka firefighters)who have personally flown a left or right seat of a ’10 or ’47

    In my recent past, 3000 gallon airtankers were refused / UTF’d / sent to another fire because some of my Federal counterparts were not on the BK USFS Fed radio for a ground contact or were on vaca……so away went my areas airtanker drop…..thank you very much!!!!

    When the Fed air program can get its house in a row in ALLLLLL facets including communications…..I will always side with the pilots.

    There’s an old Native American proverb…….walk a mile in my shoes…..
    You get it

    I do not think many pilots, wildland or otherwise, have been on these forums telling anyone on how goatroped they were….I call all my aviation buddies to come visit this site….then they can ascertain ground issues, radio issues. I still get my buddies calling from different parts of the world asking why the world is the USFS aviation contracting world in such a mess…..I give a straight non sugar coated answer and ask them to read this site…I am awaiting what they have to say about people judging drop heights in with “Next Gen” technology…

    That “Next Gen” moniker is what really gets some of them going…..KNOWING full well that this is NOT a new or “Next Gen” ship and knowing these aircraft are between 30 and 40 years old already and the training curve with a high altitude ship at low level is all in the training…….remember when you first picked up a Pulaski Axe? I do!! So for all of you ground types who have never flown a plane, dumped jumpers, fixed helos in the middle of the night…..got news for ya!!

    Bet Evergreen will give you USFS boyzzzzz and grrllzzz a good show this summer……..Other than MX and WX, my money is on them to assist YOU.

  7. Pretty hard to judge airworthiness on a 9 month old photo, too. Looked like there were several others there they could borrow an engine from. Since it looks like they use Pinal-Marana as a civil version of Davis Monthan, I bet they have the equipment to remove/replace an engine. It’s funny the things that cause us to become fixated.

  8. (This is posted for Walt at his request. He had technical issues.)

    The rest of the story—-

    From a reliable source (which I would stake my reputation on):

    Those still pictures from an unnamed ground source (Mexican rancher?) were of an unpressurized “clean out” (jettison). Videos of T979 dropping on fires show appropriate drop altitudes. One of the pilots on the clean-out jettison was a highly regarded 16-year IA airtanker pilot that would have mutinied if a drop on a fire was done at that AGL altitude.

    The two engines currently on T979 are worn-out “dummies” for balance (common for an aircraft in storage to maximize utilization of good engines with time remaining) so it’s not sitting on it’s tail. The JT9 engines that will eventually be attached to T979 are in a stealth hanger guarded by a heavily armed SWAT team ready for immediate installation, but only on a moonless night when satellites are not overhead (joke—ha ha). Hanging a JT9 by a proficient crew takes about 10-12 hours, less if it’s going on an empty pylon or the current engine is a dummy, not a significant factor in getting it back in service.

    Given the same chance as 10 Tanker to acquire experience on fires, I believe the B747 can be an even more effective mega-tool when dispatched and operated appropriately.

    1. I personally know the person who took those pictures and they were an experienced fire fighter. Why would the B747 be doing a unpressurized “clean out” jettison with a load of retardant over a fire?

  9. Last I heard the 747 was having trouble getting certified and passing its drop test. I believe its contract has already begun, but if it can’t fly, no contract. Just glad the 10’s are flying, 910 worked on the Fall fire that I worked and 910 and 911 are working the Silver and the Sharp fires, along with the type 2 Tanker 40, the BAE-146.

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