McClellan breaks their own record for retardant

See it in time-lapse video.

On Wednesday October 11 a new record was set for the number of gallons loaded into air tankers in one day at the air tanker base at McClellan Air Field near Sacramento — 311,000 gallons. But the next day, October 12, they blew that record out of the water, pumping 387,655 gallons.

With seven large fires burning within 40 to 80 miles of McClellan Air Field near Sacramento, the air tanker base there has been extremely busy for the last week with 12 air tankers working out of the facility at times.

Click on the Instagram image below to see a fascinating time-lapse video of aircraft activity at the base.

The numbers below are statewide in California.

Fire retardant dropped by firefighting aircraft california
Fire retardant dropped by firefighting aircraft in California October 9-13, 2017.

New record set for retardant at McClellan

With seven large fires burning within 40 to 80 miles of McClellan Air Field near Sacramento, the air tanker base there has been extremely busy this week with 12 air tankers working out of the facility at times. Along with the 1,200 to 4,000-gallon air tankers, the very large DC-10 and 747 air tankers using the base need about 12,000 to 19,000 gallons each time they park in a retardant pit.

On Wednesday October 11 a new record was set for the number of gallons loaded into air tankers in one day at the base — 311,000 gallons.

Between October 9 and 11, Tanker 944, a 747, flew 13 sorties and dropped 215,489 gallons of retardant in the 3 day period. The DC-10’s undoubtedly also played a large role in achieving the new record.

Air attack key in halting Canyon 2 Fire spread near Anaheim

(Above: The red dots represent heat detected on the Canyon 2 Fire by a satellite at 2:54 a.m. October 10. The yellow dots were detected at 12:54 p.m. October 9. The Canyon Fire started September 25, and the spread was stopped a few days later. Click to enlarge)

A couple days ago, Fire Aviation readers made a reasonable ask to news media filming water and retardant drops: Pan the camera out.

You’ve been heard.

A television crew with KTLA in Southern California got a great vantage of Tanker 911, a DC-10 operated by 10 Tanker Air Carrier, making a run over the hills east of Anaheim during efforts to contain the Canyon 2 Fire.

Check it out:

The Canyon 2 Fire started Monday morning in the Anaheim Hills area.

By Tuesday, Anaheim Fire & Rescue reported the blaze to be at 7,500 acres. About 1,100 firefighters were assigned to the incident, with 14 helicopters and six planes assisting from the air.

As of Wednesday morning, it had grown to 8,000 acres with containment at 40 percent — a shift from Santa Ana winds from the east to coastal sea breezes from the west aided containment efforts.

Roughly two-dozen structures were damaged or destroyed, but no serious injuries were reported.

Resources stretched as wildfires erupt across California

Firefighters on the ground and in the air battled a destructive wildfire near Anaheim on Monday, the latest in what has emerged as a particularly active fire week across California.

The Canyon Fire 2 started Monday morning in the Anaheim Hills area.

By Tuesday morning, Anaheim Fire & Rescue reported the blaze to be at 7,500 acres. 1,100 firefighters were assigned to the incident, with 14 helicopters and six planes assisting from the air.

It was just 5 percent contained.

Shifting winds were top of mind for crews on Tuesday.

Of note, the coastal marine layer that typically brings with it low-lying clouds and higher humidities was apparent Tuesday morning. However, the boundary line was pronounced, and the area of the Canyon Fire 2 was still experiencing single-digit relative humidity levels, courtesy of the Santa Ana Winds.

Of course, most of the country’s attention was focused on Northern California, where a series of fires charred upward of 80,000 acres in 18 hours — head over to Wildfire Today for details on that.

A 747 Supertanker was among those resources assisting teams on the ground. By 6 p.m. PDT on Monday the aircraft had conducted six sorties, dropping over 110,000 gallons of retardant mostly in the Napa area. Many other air tankers and helicopters were also very busy slowing down the fires, where possible, with water and retardant.

By Tuesday, “we’re gonna be as stretched as we can be,” said Steven Beech, an incident commander with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, according to the LA Times. 

Neptune retires their P2V air tankers

Spectators in Missoula enjoyed seeing water drops and flyovers.

Above: Neptune’s Tanker 05, a P2V, makes a red, white, and blue water drop at Missoula, September 30, 2017. Photo by Terry Cook.

(Originally published at 5:30 p.m. MDT October 1, 2017)

Yesterday Neptune Aviation Services officially retired the last of their P2V air tankers in a ceremony at the Missoula airport. This year the company had four of the former submarine hunters on contract that were built between 1954 and 1957 — Tankers 05, 06, 14 and 44. In 2012 ten P2Vs were on contract with the U.S. Forest Service operated by Neptune and Minden.

Neptune planned a fairly elaborate program Saturday with prize drawings, several water drops, numerous food trucks, a water drop from successive tanks with red, white, and blue water, and a formation flyover of their last four P2Vs on contract.

Neptune has been operating the P2V air tankers for 24 years. Many pilots and warbird fans enjoy flying, seeing, or hearing the aircraft and the throaty roar of its two 18-cylinder radial engines. When extra power is needed during takeoff or after a 2,000-gallon drop to climb out of a canyon it can enlist the help of two small jet engines farther out on the wings.

In 2012 the company started its retirement program for the P2Vs when they pulled two of their seven operational P2Vs from regular service.

Greg Jones, Program Manager for Neptune Aviation,  said the tankers will be taken to museums across America.

The planes are going to be stored short term in Alma Gorda, New Mexico. We will ferry them down the next couple weeks and then they will be dispersed throughout museums across the United States.

Art Prints

In 2009, working with Tronos, Neptune began converting jet airliners, BAe-146-200s, into air tankers, adding a 3,000-gallon retardant tank. In 2017 they had seven of them on exclusive use contract.

BAe-146-200 makes first drop
BAe-146-200 makes its first drop October 28, 2009 over Prince Edward island in Canada. Tronos photo.

To our knowledge the jets have not suffered any catastrophic failures or major incidents since they began dropping on wildfires. In the first half of this decade P2Vs were involved in a number of troublesome landings and in one case a crash while dropping on the White Rock Fire near the Utah/Nevada state line, killing all three crewmembers. Two P2Vs operated by Minden encountered landing gear failures, and those aircraft have not been seen over a fire since the incidents. Other fatal crashes occurred in 2008 and 2009.

T-41 Redding
Tanker 41, a BAe-146, lands at Redding August 7, 2014 after dropping on a fire in northwest California.

RJ85 on the Edwards Fire

RJ85 Edwards Fire in Alameda County, California
An RJ85 drops on the Edwards Fire in Alameda County, California, September 26, 2017. Photo by Joel V.

Joel sent us this photo of an RJ85 dropping on the Edwards Fire near Oakland, California. Thanks Joel.

As a bonus, here’s a video of an MD-87 dropping on the same fire, shot by Darryl Poe.

The fire burned about 22 acres near Edwards Avenue and Mountain Blvd, six miles southeast of Oakland.

LA Times photo of DC-10 dropping on Canyon Fire

By LA Times Staff Photographer Irfan Khan.

Very impressive photo by LA Times Staff Photographer Irfan Khan. (Click on the photo twice to see a larger version.)

More information about the 2,500-acre Canyon Fire near Corona, California.