Yesterday we wrote about the DC-10 air tankers and how they frequently work out of Castle Airport, a former U.S. Air Force bomber base near Merced, California. Today we have some photos from the base contributed by Stanley Bercovitz who is serving as a ramp manager and public information officer at the base.
10 Tanker Air Carrier, the company that operates the two DC-10 air tankers, has moved their corporate headquarters from Victorville, California to the airport at Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Rick Hatton, the CEO of the company, said yesterday about the relocation that occurred in September:
We surveyed a number of sites in the Rocky Mountain West, wanting to have more of a national presence versus being perceived as a “California Only” or Region 5 resource. Albuquerque topped the list due to a combination of off-season weather, business environment, and airport facilities.
The company moved into on-airport space with additional nearby offices and a warehouse. One of the facilities is a 7,600-square-foot building previously owned by Eclipse Aviation Corp, who’s business plan was to produce and sell small jets for $1 million each, a concept that failed.
In May Mr. Hatton announced that they were moving to Casper, Wyoming but by July cancelled those plans.
10 Tanker has evaluated airports that could serve as air tanker bases for their DC-10s and identified 30 that could handle the jumbo jets either with the existing infrastructure or with the addition of a temporary mobile retardant base.
Mr. Hatton said their two DC-10s, Tankers 910 and 911, so far in 2013 have delivered 4.4 million gallons of retardant on 386 flights.
They have started converting a third DC-10, speculating that it will be used in 2014.
Thanks go out to Jared.
A video of a DC-10 air tanker dropping on a fire in Washington, August, 2013.
Tony Duprey uploaded this video to YouTube August 11, 2013. His description
T-911, Jojo fire, Yakima Agency, Wa. Coverage level 3, start stop. This is the 2nd split .. 8000 gallons. With Lead 41 – (great job). Dozers were able to walk through the black and build dozer line in the retardant..Nice job fella’s!! Total team effort.
Be sure you watch the last few seconds, showing where the retardant landed.
(UPDATED at 1:47 p.m. PDT, September 20, 2012)
Tanker 131 was dispatched to its first fire today, September 20, near Santa Maria, California.
(Originally published September 13, 2013)
Coulson’s Air Tanker 131, a converted C-130Q, has been fully certified by the FAA, the Interagency AirTanker Board, and the U.S. Forest Service. The 3,500-gallon aircraft was carded on Tuesday and the pilot check rides occurred Wednesday. Its first assignment was to report to the San Bernardino airport, which ironically is where it spent the last several months while going through the conversion process.
Wayne Coulson, President and CEO of Coulson Aviation USA Inc., said, “This C-130Q has been outfitted with a Coulson RADS-XL Constant Flow tank and a state-of-the-art drop controller system that will enhance the accuracy of retardant drops by using GPS speed and other inputs.”
T-131 becomes the second air tanker to be certified and activated, of the original seven that were awarded “next generation” contracts.
As you may know, the USFS announced on May 6 that contracts were going to be awarded for seven next generation air tankers. The contracts were for exclusive use and for five years, with options for the USFS to extend them for an additional five years. Another option allows the addition of more air tankers from the vendors. The activation of the contracts was held up by two rounds of protests in 2012 and 2013 from Neptune Aviation, 10 Tanker, and Coulson, but the awards, after over 500 days of dithering, finally went to:
- Minden Air Corporation; Minden, Nev., for 1 BAe-146
- Aero Air, LLC (Erickson Aero Tanker); Hillsboro, Ore., for 2 MD87s
- Aero Flite, Inc. (Conair); Kingman, Ariz., for 2 Avro RJ85s
- Coulson Aviation USA Inc.; Portland, Ore., for 1 C130Q
- 10 Tanker Air Carrier, LLC; Adelanto, Calif., for 1 DC-10
Only one of the five companies had their air tanker fully certified and ready to go when the awards were announced — 10 Tanker Air Carrier and their DC-10. They put Tanker 910 to work around June 1. In fact, their second DC-10, Tanker 911, was activated on a Call When Needed (CWN) contract June 14 (later changed to a 90-day exclusive use contract) and both of them have been flying fires since then. The two DC-10s, which always carry 11,600 gallons, dropped approximately 698,000 gallons of retardant in the month of June.
The mandatory availability period for the six next generation air tankers was supposed to begin in the first part of August, 2013. Other than the DC-10, none of them made that date. Minden, Aero Air, and Aero Flite are still working on their conversion projects.