Video compilation of 747 drops

This video contains shots of many water drops by the 747 Supertanker since it arrived January 25 in Chile. Some of the drops are seen multiple times recorded by different people from various angles. I guess you could call it air tanker porn.

There is one thing all of the shots have in common — the joy and exuberance that you hear every time the huge aircraft appears. Some of it comes from knowing it will assist the firefighters on the ground who may have been struggling to put out the fire that was threatening the property of the bystanders. And the rest perhaps is the novelty of it — seeing this massive machine they have been hearing about on the news and having the chance to see it in person. It is likely that none of them have ever seen in person a large or certainly not a very large air tanker. The country has some single engine air tankers but nothing like this critter.

As this is written at 1713 Chile time on January 31, the 747 just took off on its 4th mission today, carrying another 19,200-gallon load to a fire south of Santiago. (UPDATE at 2310 Chile time: the aircraft flew five missions today.)

9 thoughts on “Video compilation of 747 drops”

  1. Great video.

    I am curious, based on your assessment, is the airframe and scope effective? Is it making a difference or just an added tool for the toolbox?

    Another way of looking at it, if there were several of these platforms, would they significantly impact firefighting from the air in a positive way?

    I am not an antagonist of aerial firefighting, but it is hard to tell if what is occurring where you are at is really helping. That will always be the question.

    Thanks for reporting on this. It is really neat to see this aircraft concept back in action.

    -Mike-

    1. What might be a useful exercise for those in a position to make decisions on air tanker utility and fire fighting effectiveness would be to see if Demming’s management methods could be applied to firefighting. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Edwards_Deming

      Without a formal operations research program, the assessment of air tanker utility and firefighting effectiveness will continue to be a subjective opinion. You can’t assess or consistently improve things that you do not measure.

      1. The USFS AND BLM have been using and assessing tanker effectiveness for decades. I personally have flown as captain on air attack platforms and whitnessed civilian and firefighters who’s lives were saved using air tankers dropping direct on structures they were trapped in.

  2. If we turn back time ten years ago there was a real effort to dispel the capability of large jet aircraft to deliver retardant. Although that issue has been somewhat silent for about seven years, the folks at Global Supertankers have “rested the case”. Mike, the people of Chile are the true fire fighters on the ground. Each close-up drop of the 747 both the community/firemen are taking advantage of the drop with what ever “tools” they can muster. These are urban interface fires. The chemical enhancement to the water seems to produce large droplets with little mist. What is the product? As a video observer I don’t understand why at the last 1/4 of the drop discharge the aircraft (747) starts to climb? Not uncommon for new air tanker pilots, learning curve.

    1. The water enhancer is Pyrocool which is being used at a 0.35% mix ratio. It was developed for difficult industrial fires. It is a recipient of the USEPA’s Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award.

  3. Impressive to watch! I recall the first year of working with the DC-10 that there were a lot of procedure issues that had to be worked out, not only with how it was utilized, but also airspace coordination with other aircraft, drop coordination with ground crews and a steep learning curve on a new VLAT platform. Flying with it these days is the same as working with any other air tanker, polished and professional.
    The 747 is no different and it is good that they have this opportunity to work out the kinks where they seem to be the only aircraft in the sky, and the terrain is simple to fly over. Put this in aircraft Southern California and they had better have everything all worked out if they are going to be effective working with the other agencies and operators.

  4. Thanks Marcos for the great picture. Key to using the VLATS is the lead, indispensable for safety and efficiency. When the Martin Mars showed up at New Melones reservoir near Angels Camp, Ca. on a CDF contract the black clouds of “what is this all about” started to build? The fire service is tradition. We (CDF &FIFT) worked through a few issues and had a great summer, flying over 100 hours. Columbia air attack base near by, had two 800 gallon S 2s, air attack and 205 helicopter. How did a 7000 gallon water scooper fit into “tradition” just fine. I would expect nothing less from Global Supertankers.

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