Above: Tanker 03 at Concepción, Chile. Photo by Neptune Aviation.
After a Saturday arrival at Santiago, Chile, Neptune’s Tanker 03 relocated south to Concepción where it will be based at least for a while. Judging from the photo below it appears that portable tanks will be used to store water to refill the aircraft. This is similar to the operation at Santiago established for servicing the IL-76 and the 747.
One thing unique about firefighting in Chile is that most of the water systems are privately owned, rather than being operated by the government, and fire hydrants are rare.
(Above: file photo of Tanker 03 taken by the Oklahoma Forestry Services last summer.)
Saturday afternoon another air tanker joined the fleet in Chile helping the firefighters deal with heavy wildfire activity that began several weeks ago. Neptune Aviation’s Tanker 03 (N475NA) arrived after a multi-day flight from Missoula, Montana.
Above: An Erickson Air-Crane helicopter arrived in Santiago, Chile on Thursday, February 2. Photo by Tom Parsons of Global Supertanker.
A large strange-looking helicopter arrived at Santiago Chile on Thursday — an Erickson Air-Crane, sometimes called a Sky Crane. It is an aircraft with a very specific purpose, to lift heavy loads. When used on wildfires, which is what is will be doing in Chile, it can be fitted with a tank holding up to 2,650 gallons (10,031 liters) of water or retardant. However the helicopter that arrived at Santiago after flying in from Peru has a different attachment in the location where the usual firefighting tank would be found. Perhaps the conventional fire tank will catch up with the aircraft.
Erickson attaches nicknames conspicuously on the nose of their Air-Cranes. We have an unconfirmed report that the one the company sent to Santiago is “Elvis”. That particular ship usually operates in Australia during their summer, but it is not there this year.
Another aircraft to be added to the temporary aerial firefighting fleet in Chile is a BAe-146, a 3,000 gallon (11,356 liters) air tanker. Dan Snyder, Chief Operating Officer of Neptune Aviation, said the four-engine jet should arrive on Friday, February 2. Neptune usually bases their jet air tankers in Missoula during the North American winter.
(UPDATE 11 p.m. February 2, 2017 Chile time: The BAe ran into a problem in Texas and its arrival in Chile will be delayed by a day.)
Just a quick video of the 747 SuperTanker pulling up to the reload pit at Santiago, Chile airport after completing its seventh sortie on February 1, 2017, making a total of 11 drops on the 7 sorties. Six of the sorties were near Navidad and Matanzas 115 miles (185 km) southwest of the Santiago airport where many structures were threatened. The seventh was near Concepcion, 404 miles (650 km) south of Santiago. In total, 138,400 gallons (508,759 l.) were delivered to assist the firefighters on the ground who actually put out the fires.
Above: An Antonov AN-124 after it arrived in Santiago, Chile carrying four helicopters. Photo by Tom Parsons of Global Supertanker.
An Antonov AN-124 arrived in Santiago, Chile Tuesday morning and unloaded three Bell 205 helicopters, one K-MAX 1200, and a flatbed truck with an attached goose-neck trailer. The Chilean government contracted with Helicopter Express out of Chamblee, Georgia to supply the equipment during the siege of wildfires that has been plaguing the country for the last several weeks.
The helicopters and the truck were loaded onto the Ukrainian freighter at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport Monday for the flight to South America.
CNN Chile reported that one of the helicopters has night-flying capabilities.
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.)