(Originally published at 9:33 a.m. MDT July 31, 2017)
Jeff Wadekamper, the Airport Director at the Helena Regional Airport, sent us this picture, and said, “Last weekend we had 7 tankers here (2 Neptune BAE 146’s, 2 Neptune P2V’s, 2 SEATS, and the DC-10 #912)”.
In this photo taken July 23 we can see two BAe-146’s (Tankers 02 and 15), one P2V (T-44), a DC-10 (T-912), and a Single Engine Air Tanker.
This is a very impressive video, probably shot a week or so ago, of the Very Large Air Tanker 912, a DC-10, making a drop close to the telescope facilities at the Mount Graham International Observatory during the Frye Fire in Arizona.
All three of the DC-10 air tankers were in the same place at the same time Saturday, October 1, which is a rare occurrence. Tankers 910, 911, and 912 were all parked at McClellan Air Field. This happened at least one other time that we are aware of, August 30, 2014 at Castle Airport near Merced, California.
The trio will be split up again in the near future when Tanker 910 begins preparing for its contract in Australia where it will begin in less than four weeks. Tankers 911 and 912 will continue their work for CAL FIRE and the U.S. Forest Service for the remainder of the season.
Weston Burch sent us this excellent photo of Tanker 912 dropping retardant on the Hayden Pass Fire, July 14, 2016. The fire was 17 air miles southeast of Salida, Colorado. The aircraft was working out of the Pueblo, Colorado airport at the time. Thanks Weston!
As a bonus, here is a video of a DC-10 dropping on the Sand Fire near Los Angeles. Click on the arrows at bottom/right to see it in full screen.
Tanker 912, the DC-10 that embedded its wing tip into the side of a hangar at Pueblo Airport on July 9 has been repaired and was back on the job yesterday. John Gould of 10 Tanker Air Carrier confirmed that it became airworthy again Wednesday and dropped retardant on the Hayden Pass Fire.
Sorry, but the extremely low resolution photo above was the only one we could find of a DC-10 on the Hayden Pass Fire.
One of the three DC-10 Very Large Air Tankers, Tanker 912, was involved in an incident while taxiing back to the loading pits at the Pueblo, Colorado airport on Saturday, June 9. A wing tip struck a hangar causing damage to the aircraft and the hangar. There were no injuries to anyone on the ground or the five personnel on board the air tanker.
After the accident occurred, with the wing tip still partially embedded in the structure, the DC-10 was left in place until Monday morning while the stability of the hangar was assessed and decisions were being made about how to proceed in order to minimize further damage.
“Yesterday [Monday] we had some structural engineers out to assess the hangar’s structural stability”, said John Vigil, Interim Director of the Pueblo Airport. “We were able to just cut off a couple of pieces of steel and then were able to push [the DC-10] back with a tug.
“From what I could see”, Mr. Vigil continued, “the damage was minimal to the aircraft. It was really just the wing tip. The damage to the hangar was a little bit more substantial. We’ll meet with the insurance company tomorrow [July 13] and get an assessment. The good news is the hangar didn’t collapse. There was a small [general aviation] plane in there, we were able to take it out and get it out of harm’s way, and then start to work getting the DC-10 free.”
A tug pushed the aircraft back on Monday, extricating the wing tip from the hangar. Later in the day mechanics from 10 Tanker Air Carrier, the operator of the three DC-10’s, began repairing the damage to the wing.
On July 19, 2014 another DC-10 Very Large Air Tanker, T-910, incurred some damage to a wing while it was taxiing at the air tanker base at Moses Lake, Washington. While relocating in the loading pit area the aircraft struck a portable “air stair”, a structure that can be pushed up to the aircraft door. Two people on the ground were marshaling the DC-10 as it slowly moved, directing it where to go and supposedly watching for obstructions.