Outstanding photo of the 747 on the Palmer Fire (new: added videos)

(Originally published at 7:22 a.m. MDT September 5, 2017)

A few days ago Cy Phenice sent us an excellent photo of Air Tanker 944, the 747 SuperTanker, dropping on the Palmer Fire south of Yucaipa, California which we published September 3. Now we have another great photo of the huge airplane dropping on the fire.

It was taken by Leroy Leggit with a Nikon D810. He shot it at 1/800, F 5.6, using a 70-200mm lens at 150mm.

He said he took the photo from the top of a hill looking down at the aircraft.

747 Palmer Fire supertanker
Air Tanker 944, a 747-400, drops near structures on the Palmer Fire south of Yucaipa, California at 4:25 p.m. PDT September 2, 2017. Photo by Leroy Leggitt, used with permission.

He told us:

I didn’t know anything about the 747 supertanker until it appeared to my right (at eye level) headed straight toward the fire… what an amazing and unexpected sight… I looked online and saw that it had only been in service for a few days.

The Palmer Fire was reported at 1:33 p.m. MDT September 2, 2017. It is nearly officially contained according to CAL FIRE after burning 3,874 acres.

This was the second fire the aircraft was used on after receiving certification and a contract from CAL FIRE. The 747 was dispatched from McClellan Air Field near Sacramento. According to FlightAware it cruised south at over 600 mph at times before dropping on the fire about an hour later, then reloaded at McClellan and completed a second sortie, dropping almost 19,000 gallons again, splitting the load into two drops.

(UPDATED at 10:07 a.m. MDT September 5, 2017)

After Johnny commented that videos are available, we checked and found these. The first one appears to be the same drop seen in the photo above.

6 thoughts on “Outstanding photo of the 747 on the Palmer Fire (new: added videos)”

  1. The performance of both the aircraft and crew was outstanding. Once again in fire aviation history CDF (Cal Fire) made the decision to explore a new product (747). A popular video web site has some breath taking video of Tanker 744 in action. Thanks to the photo contributors who shared their “art” with Wildfire Today.

  2. I guess everyone is on fire, (except me) Good. If you look closely at the Palmer Fire top screen you notice the release of retardant is perfect. They are tagging onto a previous drop. As usual the lead plane pilots are my heroes. Can you imagine getting in front of a 747? Cost has been mentioned on several news reports, if you believe the news. 747 cost a little more than a scooper per day. Can’t get down into canyons. Didn’t we hear the same stuff about the DC 10, ten years ago. 13 sorties in three day 21 drops (full-split) 219,000 gallons of retardant.

    1. The issue will be WHEN they start actually trying to fly them into canyons like a SEAT, Scooper, S2 to “prove” everyone wrong…that will be a bad day for VLATS…like they nearly did with the DC10 after it made it’s debut.

      Define a “little more” than a scooper?

      1. Last I heard the Feds had two Cl 415 on exclusive use. Going down below the ridge line on a drop is no big deal. The lead pilots as mentioned are the guys really making the drop. Its all done with planning, communication and knowing your flying machines capability. There is a good point in your comment, don’t try to over prove you product.

  3. So many stories as to why this super tanker cannot be used in certain areas. Stories, stories and more stories. FIND A WAY !! Cost ? Shouldn’t the cost come out of our federal defense spending ? Terrain ? Fly above it ! At the amount that comes out some is better than none. Too many fires for one tanker ? Buy more, again use the Federal defense money for that and slow down spending on items that only make corporations rich (F-35). I have heard if we thin our forests it makes things better. WHAT ??? Thinning a forest creates lots of growth of items that dry out in the summer months (fuel for fires) Old growth tends to remain quite moist on the floor of a forest. Again stories that benefit someone’s wallet. Even the news can’t quit doing coverage on the hurricanes, why ? Population ! Who cares about a low populated area (less California). Democrats ? Republicans ? Does it really matter which group of thieves run our country ? Vote all their butts out !!

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