"KNOWLEDGE IS KNOWING THAT A TOMATO IS A FRUIT.
WISDOM IS NOT PUTTING IT IN A FRUIT SALAD
PHILOSOPHY IS WONDERING IF THAT MEANS
KETCHUP IS A SMOOTHIE."
If you have been reading my stories long you will remember the rants I have been going off on about the governments empty promises about doing "everything possible" to fight the large fires in the West. By pontificating in one speech after another various department heads and politicians have said that they "will hold nothing back and spare no expense" to stop the burning of the country.
At the same time as this the largest and newest air firefighting technology set on a tarmac in Arizona where the 747 fire tankers set while the Evergreen Airline that owned and developed them were forced into bankruptcy. Also grounding and diverting to non emergency status an experienced helicopter air tanker service in Idaho by putting too short a time to deliver contract proposals and by UPS delivering the paperwork just a little late.
I have ranted several times as the government continued to lie and written letters to congressmen and anyone who should give two cents to save our forests and wild lands. And all this showed no sign of moving anyone off the political platform.
Well there is sign of life and hope. I do not believe that any of my rantings had anything to do with it. I am not the only old firefighter put to pasture that gets no attention to our opinions. But there are those who do see that there is a need and has the means to pick up the pieces.
Jim Wheeler, President of Global SuperTanker Services announce this spring that the FAA has awarded a supplemental type certification to the re-born 747 supertankers. This is a huge obstacle to overcome. When the original 747's were built with the new technology the prevailing attitude was that jets could not be useful as fire tankers. This even after the DC-9's were flying in California.
The systems have been worked over and transferred into 747-400 aircraft and testing has been taking place at Colorado Springs and Marana, AZ. It has passed all the non emergency drills with plain water and is ready for dropping fire retardant.
The 747-400 can drop 19,600 gallons of retardant at a time. This is about 7 times the capacity of existing fire-tankers. What is needed is contracts with Cal. Fire and the US Government to start bringing the big guns to the fire fronts. The jets can be reloaded in 45 minutes and can fly from bases over a thousand miles away. The original plan was to base three 747's across the lower tier of states and three across the upper tier of states. Word is being waited on as to where the planes could be stationed.
SO HOW SHOULD I FEEL RIGHT NOW? That is a good question. I could be happy that my constant harping on the need for this plane to be put in service is coming to become reality. But I will believe that when I see the first deployments. I am not about to believe that I had anything to do with things changing, simple intelligence, need, and a company seeing opportunity is what will make this a reality.
When I really see a concerted effort to save our wild lands and help our firefighters I will be happy. But there are so many changes that need to take place that damage has been done, we will see if anything changes.
In the mean time I will cross my fingers, say a prayer, and smile the first time I see a load dropped by the Global Supertanker.