747 SuperTanker arrives in Chile

chile fires

Above: The crew from the 747 SuperTanker is welcomed at the Santiago Airport, January 25, 2017.

Early Wednesday morning the 747 SuperTanker landed at Santiago, Chile to begin an assignment to help firefighters on the ground suppress some of the many fires burning in the country during an extended drought and heat wave.

After landing, the huge aircraft was towed by an airport tug to a remote corner of the military side of the airport where two very large bladder bags had been positioned, presumably containing water to fill the 19,200-gallon tank. It took quite a while for the tug to position the 747 in that location, so the aircraft crew will be working with the locals to reposition what will be a loading pit so that the aircraft can quickly taxi in and out to reload, without the use of a tug.

chile supertanker
Drug-sniffing dogs searched the interior of the SuperTanker after it landed at Santiago.

The first order of business was to bring three drug-sniffing dogs on board. One of them had to be carried up the very steep ladder to the upper deck — not an easy task. Kudos to the dog’s handler who made it look fairly easy, even though the dog looked quite uncomfortable.

jim wheeler carol perez
Jim Wheeler, President and CEO of Global SuperTanker, meets with the US Ambassador to Chile, Carol Perez.

After we were bussed to a VIP version of Customs, the U.S. Ambassador to Chile, Carol Perez met with Jim Wheeler, CEO and President of Global Supertanker. Next was a chaotic press conference where Alfredo Mascareno of CONAF, which is the Chilean version of the U.S. Forest Service, was mobbed by several dozen members of the media, including CNN of Chile. Mr. Wheeler told me he was grateful that he was not interviewed.

Chile fires
Alfredo Mascareno of CONAF (wearing glasses) is mobbed at the Santiago Airport during a press conference about the wildfires in Chile.

The two flight crews will get some rest Wednesday morning, and one of them will most likely be available in the afternoon to fly the aircraft. But many logistical and coordination details still need to be worked out.

Christopher M. Nyce of the U.S. Embassy told us that USA fire personnel have been deployed to Chile for this fire siege, including four from the USFS and a “team” from CAL FIRE. The USFS contingent arrived early Wednesday morning. CAL FIRE signed an agreement with Chile in November regarding mutual assistance during wildfires.  There may be firefighters from other countries arriving later this week. (UPDATE January 31, 2017: there was a change in plans, and the personnel from CAL FIRE did not deploy to Chile.)

29 thoughts on “747 SuperTanker arrives in Chile”

  1. Thank You!!!!! All good chileans are so gratefull for your help. Our Central forest areas have been victim of some terrorist groups and they say they are not going to stop. We are suffering for some group and your help and any help will be so important for the people that are loosing everything and our beautifull forest.
    God Bess You Guys, Good Luck Today!!!!!!!

  2. Thank you so much Super Tanker team
    I’m chilean and I’m feel so proud of Lucy Ana Walton and her family
    God bless you guys!

  3. I wish the best to the 747 SuperTanker crew.. Thank you so much for your help.. We hope you guys will stop this huge tragedy..
    Chile thanks you all and we will remember you all..

  4. Thank you for coming gentlemen! I hope every Chilean has learned that the basis of firefighting is prevention and involvement. Climate change is happening and we must all get involved to take care of ours. Blaming others and making excuses is NOT right, unfortunately it is a cheap way out not to accept what happens.

    1. “Climate Change”……. That is a good excuse for terrorism acts in Chile….. Every body know and even have prueves of that now, and those guys are started to be arrested Finally!.

      Don’t Lie Jorge to the world!

  5. Hope you can eventually get recordings from the news in Chile. They’re currently interviewing people whose homes you just helped save.

    Godspeed on all upcoming missions!

    (About the terrorist comment… not really confirmed, social media is good for spreading that stuff.)

  6. First day was succesfull !!!

    Thank You So Much!!!!!!

    Please, people need to know this is terrorism. A small group that wanted all the forest and people home burned.
    This is not an accident.
    We are going to need many help here.

    All chileans will never forget this help, was being the best and efective we had receive

    Thank you so much again

  7. Stop Lies Jorge

    Its so simple to anyone google on internet and find the prueves about those criminal acts.
    Im watching the news now and they are saying the same.

    Stop try to hide the sun with your finger, this is facts!

    Thank you Guys….. Again Us helping with hability and your great good way to make things.

    God Bless You!!!
    All good chileans are with you and in our hearts For Ever

  8. Thanks Super Guys of the Super Tanker with Super Hability and Heart
    God Bless you forever :::))))

    This has been terrorism acts
    All people here know about it

  9. Thanks Super Tanker Guys
    Good luck tomorrow.

    This has been terrorism and its simple to google and find the prueves.

    Some of those who are starting different focus here are arrested.

    Its so funny the excuse some people are trying to give to this disaster.

    Experts on Fire are saying this has been intentionals.
    Soon true is going to came out with all the prueves people don’t wanted to see….. Are not able to refuse.

    Google on internet….. Its simple.

  10. Thank you Great Guys!

    First day was succesfull.

    I have a question for all here.
    No one think it is a little strange a private chilean woman who lives in US pay this “Thanks God Plane”??

    Why didn’t goverment made it? And didn’t ask for this help?……

    It is not a little…. Curious???

  11. Its so simple…. Please, google “Araucania Terrorism” and averyone can find information there.

    This is problem we are suffering for years, some anarchical groups that burns forest, countries and even people (google Luchsinger Mackay Murder or marriage Murder). They were burned alive inside their home at night. There are audios of the Lasy asking for help. Horrible!
    This is not from now….. They are been terrorism since years but some people don’t wanted to accept because they need to defend their oun believes.
    But this is absolutelly true.

    Please, google the information, its all there….. The true is TRUE

  12. Guys, please don’t convert this comments section into a discussion about terrorism… unfortunately, it’s become clearer fires have been provoked; what needs to be answered yet is whether it’s terrorism or private forestry businesses. Both are likely, and whoever it is, needs to answer, but this is not the place.

    Please don’t make this about fighting against each other. This is a good place to thank the people who are fighting next to our firemen and police in order to save lives against fire. Not against some other political view or ethnicity.

  13. We are a great country,with great people and a very great and brave heart.
    Thank you my dear brothers from USA and other countries , we fight together against the devil.

    Thank you very much

  14. I apologize for the stupid and inconvenience thing of the “drugs”, this country still does not have common sense!

  15. ME TOO

    It was SO very embarrassing.
    The thing about “Drugs” and all was initially difficult about the initial work of supertanker with all kinds of inconveniences and obstacles. That was only because it was a private initiative. It was Really SO Evident……

    Not all here have not commont sence Andrea, just the ones who don’t ask for Supertanker at the beginning of the disaster.
    Thank you so Much Lucy Aviles and Family.
    All Chile have no words to expres our thanks.

    Thank you So Much To help and have the initiative to help stop fire that had destroi houses, people lifes, homes, forest, animals…. Animals are hurt have no food…….. It is so hard to see.

    Every kind of help is Welcome

    Thank You So Much
    Good Luck Today Super Tanker Guys.

    Good Bless You Forever ❤️ ??

  16. Words can’t express the gratitude I feel when I think about what you have done in my birth country.I ‘ll just say thanks.

  17. I am a US citizen married to a Chilean citizen & have lived many years in Chile. Of several extraordinarily deeply moving moments since our arrival in 1967, one stunning blessing has been the announcement of a Chilean woman and US husband sending from US the SuperTanker to battle the tremendous fires ravaging Chile- y que me ha producido lagrimas cada vez que escucho de la desesperación, efuerzos y heroísmo de las personas involucradas en todo este catástrofe.

    Bendiciones a todo personal de SuperTanker, por las colosales bendiciones donados a Chile !!

  18. Thank you for the assistance you provided , helping put out the forest fires in our country
    And let’s not forget to thank Eduardo Frugone your Chilean associate; had it not been for his outstanding personal involvement the Supertanker would have never flown to Chile. The local government was against the project and no one in country supported the idea , besides no one had ever hear of the Supertanker. Frugone had the vision and against all odds with a tremendous effort he managed to bring the Supertanker down to Chile

    1. The way the deployment of large air tankers to Chile happened, was that on January 18 Eduardo, who I had never heard of, sent me an email, saying:

      We need fire figthing planes to fly to Chile, need to know if your company can establish contacts right away.

      I, of course, do not have any air tankers, but I forwarded his message to three air tanker companies that I thought might have some available, I wrote, “I don’t know if this is legit or not, but it might be an opportunity to use your aircraft in Chile.” Two of those companies, Supertanker and Neptune, followed up and each sent one aircraft to Chile.

      So, Eduardo got the ball rolling. He also was compensated for his efforts. I volunteered all of my efforts.

      More information about the back story.

  19. Follow the money. With costs passing $100 Million just on the Yosemite Fire a few years ago there has to be some kick-backs to someone otherwise the insurance industry would have called foul a long time ago. They take a beating every fire season, YET NONE ASK FOR THE SUPER-Tanker to get involved. This super-tanker went to Israel on Thanksgiving Day, 2016 to put out arson fires there. On the way they passed by the fires in Tennessee where 12 U.S. citizens died in their forest fires. That would make me angry, but no one has come forward to make this information known to the public, that these fires can be put out if the SuperTanker gets involved on the first or second day. Follow the money.

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