"IF YOU PUT THE GOVERNMENT IN
CHARGE OF THE SAHARA DESERT,
IN FIVE YEARS THERE WOULD BE
A SHORTAGE OF SAND."
I have ranted several times and sent e-mails to government officials and elected officials about the 747 Air Tanker that Evergreen Airlines built to fight forest fires. I have heard government officials say how they were not holding back anything to combat the terrible fires in the forests and the West. Which is a huge lie.
First there is the first new technology for dropping water and retardant from the air since WWII that Evergreen pioneered. Converting 747 Boeing aircraft into an air tanker that could replace 12 common aircraft being used today. The government dragged it's heels on certification first. Then just did not give a contract second.
We went through a bad period in the fire service when the old air tankers were converted WWII aircraft. The planes just plain wore out and many deaths of talented pilots were lost before fighting fires became big business. Thank goodness the new fleet is being designed for the job from the ground up.
There are 3 747's now setting on the ground in Arizona not being deployed because Evergreen Airlines has several problems. One, their owner died in 2014. Two, the investment in building the state of the art fire tanker was not used in this country, (it was used on a fire in Israel), and three, the company is now in bankruptcy.
Now I do not pretend to know all the circumstances that caused the company to go into chapter 7. I do attribute the fact that when we have firefighters being killed, houses and buildings burning, and wild land being scorched. No government bureaucrat would approve the use of these tankers to be used.
One of the original excuses is that jet aircraft could not function in the fire environment. Well Tanker 912 has dispelled that myth. The new generation of smaller tankers are under jet power being built now.
So what happens now? Three 747 air tankers setting on the ground. Will they be scrapped? Will a company buy them and use them to fight fires? Ultimately the answer will lie in an anonymous government official and someone with a vested interest in whether we really commit all we have to stop fires or line someone's pockets.