747 SuperTanker en route to assist with wildfires in Chile

747 supertanker Chile

The 747 SuperTanker has been dispatched to South America to assist firefighters who are dealing with numerous fires occurring during a drought in the country. The aircraft is expected to depart from Colorado Springs sometime after 1330 MT on January 24 and should arrive in Santiago around 14 hours later after a stop in Houston to pick up a liquid fire suppression agent that will be mixed with water in the 19,200-gallon tank.

If you want to follow the track of the aircraft, it will show up as “GST944”. GST used to be used by Ghana Airlines, but the company is now out of business.

The initial stage of this deployment, the first few days, is being funded by a private foundation. We will write more about this in a later article.

I will be embedded with the crew, traveling with them in order to report for Fire Aviation on their assignment. As with any wildland fire assignment, we don’t know how long we’ll be in Chile.

747 Chile supertanker
The interior of the 747 during the gear loading process.  Bill Moody, VP of Incident Response for Global Supertanker, can be seen climbing the stairs to the upper deck. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

The fire siege in Chile has been going on for several weeks destroying more than 60 homes and portions of vineyards, an important industry there. As far as we know, Chile has not received much assistance from outside the country.

A recent emergency declaration by the President has authorized the use of military assets to help combat the fires.

Unusually high temperatures for the last 30 days have contributed to extreme fire behavior. On January 15 three firefighters were entrapped and killed and the pilot of a single engine air tanker was killed December 28 when the aircraft crashed about 15 kilometers from the town of Santa Juana after working on a wildfire in the Bío Bío region.

10 thoughts on “747 SuperTanker en route to assist with wildfires in Chile”

  1. paul,
    now that you are in chile, try to asses the authorities about renting and bringing down here a couple of cl215/415 for supporting our fire season, wich is offset from the northern hemisphere….
    those planes should be of great use here in chile between october and april each year….

    1. I spent 2 months fighting fires in Chile with a CL-215 in 2000. We fought a lot of fires and saved a lot of property. Many parts of Chile are not really suited for scoopers do to the lack of water sources but many parts are suitable. The 215 was did ok but a 415 is really the answer especially when when working in the mountains and carrying water loads longer distances. Don’t think you will see a Supertanker anywhere near the Andes.

  2. safe flight and thanks to the Chilean woman that rented the Supertanker! go in God’s speed! much success to all, it’s heart braking seeing the people that have lost everything . so many of them , God Bless them all …..watching news with tears in my eyes . People are in great need of water; it’s very hot this summer in Chile.

  3. Hi, Im from Chile and right now the plane is about to release the first amount of water here. More than 400.000 acres has been burned in more than two weeks of fire. The worse in several years. I hope the plane can help ! Im sure it will

  4. THE WHOLE COUNTRY IS CROSSING FINGERS FOR YOU TO SUCCED! THANK YOU LUCY, I KNOW YOU NEVER WANTED TO BE EXPOSED, BUT RIGHT NOW YOU ARE REGARDED AS A REAL HERO, BESIDES THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN FIGHTING NON STOP FOR SO MANY DAYS. GOD BLESS AND LIGHT UP OUR USELESS AUTHORITIES’ MINDS

  5. Thanks Lucy Avilés for the gift in that emergency : the supertanker plane.
    Our authorities need to be humble to receive help when situation requires.

  6. Chilean goverment has said that you couldnt bring big planes to fight fires. They have only 3 little planes operating.

    For 2 weeks we have been burning, at the moment they said that there are 300 000 hectareas of forest destroyed, and 10 people have died.

    Thanks God to Lucy Aviles was clever to get the Supertanker operating in Chile, the results have been very good.

    If the Supertanker has arrives 2 weeks early we couldnt have had this huge problem.

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