747 was used Tuesday on California fire

The Supertanker dropped on a wildfire 13 miles northeast of Oroville, California.

(Updated at 12:45 p.m. PDT August 31, 2017)

For the first time in several years the 747 SuperTanker dropped retardant on a wildfire in the United States. In 2016 and earlier this year the 19,000-gallon aircraft was used on fires in Israel and Chile, but it wasn’t until a few days ago that it had all of the inspections, tests, approvals, and very importantly, a contract in place.

On one sortie to the Ponderosa Fire northeast of Oroville, California at 7 p.m. MDT Wednesday August 30 Tanker 944 made two drops, half a load on each pass.

747 Supertanker
A flight of the 747 Supertanker (Tanker 944), 12:45 p.m. PDT, August 31, 2017. FlightAware.

As this article was updated at 12:45 p.m. PDT August 31 the Tanker 944 was on another sortie in the same general area. (see above)

747 supertanker
One of the first tests of the re-installed retardant system on the Global Supertanker 747-400, May, 2016. Global Supertanker photo.

This aircraft is the second version of the Supertanker that was developed by Evergreen Aviation, originally in a 747-100. After buying the retardant system and the intellectual property, Global SuperTanker installed it in a newer more powerful 747-400.

21 thoughts on “747 was used Tuesday on California fire”

  1. They were showing a live shot of the 944 at the Ponderosa fire at noon pst…well 12:35pst,they didnt catch is making a drop,but will most like post a video on KCRA3 later today.

  2. You heard it first (again) on Wildfire Today. Studying the flight profile it appears that there wasn’t any wasted time in delivering the retardant. Direct to the fire, two 360 degree turns, (split load) return to base. Interesting to ascertain what was the flight time to deliver 19K plus gallons of retardant. This could be a gallon/time record. The application of retardant just prior to “cut-off” is a tactical method which will allow the retardant to stay effective through the night. Thus allowing crew/dozers/engines to take advantage of the drop. Now is the real test for GST. Cal Fire requires a very high level of performance and results.

  3. Only 63 acre increase in the last 24hours. Total acres 3680, 30% containment. In that country under those weather conditions I am amazed the fire isn’t 36K plus acres. A story inside this incident is how Cal Fire Air Tanker (Reload) Base at McClellan is keeping up with retardant production supporting heavies, VLATS and a Super VLAT, 747

    1. All I can say is thank you! The Super VLAT saved Berry Creek. The fire had been spotting north across the Middle Fork, at Indian Cemetary when we ran. Then the jet shut that advance down! We have a home. How much is that worth? Twelve hundred people have homes, Cal Fire, because of you. Thank you!

  4. Well, let’s see the positive side. At least one agency (CAL FIRE) is willing to try it.
    Sure it’s another Tool. Like any tool, it has its place in the Toolbox .
    Containment percentage… well, that’s another story. I doubt it was 0% contained before with all aircraft and guys on the ground working on it from the beginning.

    1. Wrong it was out of control. The area too steep. Wind pushing the fire north. Those tankers gave them control and the fire crews could focus on saving structures. Helicopters drop water by the teaspoon, the VLAT snuffs out acres by the hundreds. Cal Fire, we in Berry Creek thank you! People in Forebestown thank you! Soon this mightmare will be over, and the VLATs will move on. How can we thank those pilots and CAL FIRE enough?

    2. Last year when the company was informed of what was needed for federal certification (for use on federal lands), they chose to fly to the land down under and make money (I mean fight fires) rather than complete the federal certification process. Now that it’s wildfire season above the equator, they’re back. Let’s hope they complete the packet soon. If it completes the cert process. Great for everyone. There is always more to the story, folks.

      1. When somebody makes up stuff like they accepted an assignment overseas “rather than complete the federal certification process”, you have to wonder why they are so biased against the company. A competitor maybe? And, they chose to “make money”? How unusual. A firefighting equipment vendor who is in the business to support their families, rather than being a non-profit organization.

      2. There’s a lot more to the story Joe. If you read up on what has happened. The Forest Service for years has blocked the use of the 747. The latest was in June when they offered a tanker aircraft contract ,but with the stipulation that the capacity of the planes would be no more than 5000 gallons. The 747’s capacity is 19000 gallons. Go figure. So now they’ve finally been certified but the Forest Service still won’t use them. Or even reimburse other agencies that would. How can you blame a company for fighting fires in other countries when its own country won’t use them. They are begging to have a chance to show what they can do. Do you really think they don’t feel like being certified so they just don’t apply? It’s been a battle for 10 years to get this plane into the tool box. It’s a crime this plane hasn’t been given a chance.

  5. Just saw it fly 200 feet over my roof for a fire here (again) in Mariposa. I looked at it and thought it was the DC10 again, then my brain kicked in and saw the 4 engines and big belly structure. Just in time and it nailed our fire!

  6. It seems to me that most of the people who oppose the 747 work in the industry and are afraid the 747 will cut into their piece of the profit pie. If you look at the Supertanker’s Facebook page, there are hundreds of posts from people in Chile thanking them for saving their city.
    I have heard the following excuses from those in the industry of “why the 747 should not be used”.
    -It is against policy to use retardant in xyz area – no problem, it can use water too.
    -The retardant pollutes the area – you mean the same retardant the 747 uses that the other planes use? But somehow if dropped from a 747 it causes more pollution?
    -The retardant drop is dangerous and will hurt personnel on the ground – several gopro videos exist that were taken in the drop zone… by people. It is like a gentle rain.
    -The 747 is too big/slow or can’t maneuver – check out it’s flight path on flightradar24. It did 2 drops in 3 minutes on one run and on another it did like 5 or six drops in about 10 minutes
    -The 747 can’t get into canyons…etc. – but you say you’re waiting for rain to put the fires out? Are you waiting for that special kind of sideways around the corner rain that doesn’t fall directly down from the sky, like it would from the 747?
    -The forest needs to burn. – you can have a) carbon emissions cause climate change so we need to do everything we can to stop carbon emissions as fast as possible or b) the forests need to burn even though they cause huge amounts of carbon emissions. Pick one.

  7. One would think that this plane would be kept flying 24/7 as a national security asset, as long as there is a wildfire burning in the lower 48.

  8. I hope you are reading this Kate Brown (Oregon Governor). Better rethink your comments about “all assets are being used” and “we are using all the tools in our tool box”. Oregon should have helped make this a success from the start of development. Wouldn’t it be great to use one of these 747’s when a fire is burning a few acers instead of 200 square miles.

  9. It flew again last night low over our roof 2 times each way, here in the hills outside of the town of Mariposa. I could hear it 10 miles away making bombing runs. Very nice to have this tool indeed!

  10. The Oregon Governor says the supertanker cannot be used on Oregon’s Eagle Creek fire. Is this true? If not, has anyone called her on it?

  11. It’s politics I’ve been saying that for years.Thay don’t want to put out this fires.Call in the supertanker when the fire first starts (Fire Out) less revenue.

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