747 SuperTanker receives firefighting contract with CAL FIRE

t-911 747 supertanker

Above: Air Tanker 944, the 747 SuperTanker, at Colorado Springs, May 4, 2016. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

Originally published at 2:23 p.m. MDT August 28, 2017.

Jim Wheeler President and CEO of Global SuperTanker said today their 747 SuperTanker has received a call when needed (CWN) contract with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). The aircraft and crew were also issued cards by CAL FIRE, meaning they passed the inspections and meet the qualifications. The U.S. Forest Service participated in the process but they do not issue cards until a USFS contract is in place.

Mr. Wheeler said the air tanker is presently at McClellan Air Field and is available.

The first time the 747 was used on a U.S. fire was on the Railbelt Complex of Fires in Alaska August 1, 2009. About a month later it assisted firefighters on the Station Fire near Los Angeles.

11 thoughts on “747 SuperTanker receives firefighting contract with CAL FIRE”

  1. Vlat, Lat and all other Air Tankers don’t put the fires out. They are an effective tool used along with any ground resource to hold most wildfires in check with long term retardant. Many times they are used to pre-treat the fuels along side and ahead of the Fire front, but rarely do they fully suppress wildfires.

  2. Don’t say NEVER, as the agency IC can and may make a tactical decision to use the Vlat. Sometimes the Vlat may be the only air-tanker available when such requests are made. The Vlat’s are just another tool available to support the ground resources during active fire suppression. Also the Vlat does not have to drop the whole load, as it can drop small amounts of retardant making multiple drops on the areas of concern.

    Better to use one Vlat saving thousands of acres in the YNP, than to say never and have it all burn-up!

  3. Nothing really suppresses a fire. It burns until it naturally decides not to. Ground crews tankers etc. are used to steer a fire in a more favorable direction for non natural suppression and away from homes like to lighter fuels where it can be suppressed by ground crews and water dropping aircraft. Of course the more water and retardant you drop the better this works. I say get that damn thing in the air it may not put any fire out but it can sure help save homes.

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