Southern California Fires Aircraft


Does anybody know if the tanker versions of the DC-10, 747, and IL-76 are being used to fight the Southern California fires?

Does anybody have a list of the aircraft being used? I tried accessing the Calfire incident website but, due to volume, it is down. I couldn’t locate the information on the Forest Service Fire and Aviation Management site, either.


KTLA Video of DC-10 at Lake Arrowhead


Did that DC-10 completely miss the target, or do they spray that stuff in unburned areas to prevent the fire from spreading there? IIRC they spray it directly in the fire to put it out. If that’s the case, then I wonder WTF? Makes me wonder about the feasibility of using such large planes for this type of mission…


Listening to the newsreporter (?), it sounds like he may have been a little bit low.

As an update, I found something that seems to indicate that none of the older fixed wing aircraft (DC-4, C130, etc) are being used. Instead, Tanker 10 notwithstanding, the only aircraft being used are helicopters. I seem to recall something about them being banned from fighting fires for safety reasons.


In certain cases, they try to create a fire break using a thicker mixture of fire retardant. I think in the cases of the fires in California, the winds and lack of humidity make a direct water drop less effective then denying the fires of new fuel and hoping they burn themselves out.

Just my two cents.


For a fully engulfed fire like the ones shown on the video a direct shot with water and/or retardant will is not effective. Kinda like using a water gun to put out a fire in a fireplace.
The retardant is laid down in a path downwind or down-fire (large fires make their own wind, plus it travels upslope) from the main fireline.
What you rarely see on the news are the spotter aircraft that always fly ahead of the drop aircraft to show them the line as well as the overhead observer.


Helicopter Video don’t know when or where, but this fire fighter has a close call.
Also, a Martin Mars will be on the scene in San Diego tomorrow, hired by a private contractor. There are also two CL-215’s from Quebec in the LA area fires.


This video is from a year or so ago, but it’s pretty amazing how:

  1. close that first tanker looks to crashing. I know some guys who do this for a living and they say whenever possible they try to avoid dropping uphill. It sure looks close.
  2. How stupid those freaking people are. Do they know how fast a fire like that can travel? Idiots.
  3. How dangerous that type of flying can be. I hope they are paid well!


The standard procedure, at least in the National Park Service, is to have two planes form an X or V with retardant just ahead of the fire in order to slow or stop its spread. The guys I’ve met don’t make much money, but they do put their lives on the line repeatedly. I was talking to a fire jumper last year who told me about getting trapped in a fast spreading fire. All he could do was get down on the ground in his fire shelter (basically an insulated bag) and let the fire burn over him. He said that it sounded like a freight train and he was pretty sure he was going to die.


Any Canadair CL-415 Superscoopers workin’ out there? Seems like their unique tank-loading design would make them efficient waterbombers.


While the twin scoops used to fill the aircraft’s water tanks “on the fly” are efficient, there’s nothing unique about them. Almost all amphibious fire fighters use a similar refill system.

Heck, high speed railroad steam engines refilled their tenders underway using a scoop that would lower from the rear of the tender and scoop water from a trough between the rails. And that started back in the 1890s!


Last few times I was at VNY there were two there. I’ve seen video today of them working the fires.

I knew that, I knew that!

Other amphibious firefighting aircraft:
Canadair CL-215

Martin Mars:

Beriev Be-200


Is how that should look.

You’ve long lusted after the Beriev B-103, the flying Winnebago:



The ‘scoop’ system is a Canadian invention. It was first developed on the Consolidated ‘Canso’ ( Catalina for the Americans ) and has been the standard since. The picture is a Canso used by the Newfoundland Government. Canso was retired in favour of the CL-215.

The main deference between the 215 and Cl-415 is that the 415 utilizes turbine engines and has a glass cox pit. Pilots say the difference is like night and day - the Newfoundlanders would say the difference is like chalk and cheese.


Why oh why doesn’t Cali just invest in 8 or 10 CL-415s and be done with it? They maintain all those older fixed wing aircraft which require ground personnel to reload, when 8 415s could be flying a racetrack circuit, filling from the ocean, and drowning those fires? But I guess someone who knows more than I is making those decisions.


Because California is too busy fighting “manmade” global warming (what bs!) and bowing down to the environmentalist idiots and tree huggers who refuse to allow the clearing of the underbrush and the removal of dead trees.


Unit cost for one CL-415 is about $26 million. I think the P-3’s, Trackers and even the DC-10 cost mush less than that even with conversions. We’re talking government after all.

CL’s make a lot of sense, and now that the winds have calmed, a circut of CL-415’s could put a big dent in those fires!


If I weren’t married with 5 kids I would be a fire bomber pilot in a heart beat. I’m not sure why, just always was drawn to fire bombing, banner towing, glider towing, and crop dusting.

Yep no wife or kids and I would drop everything to do it.

In the mean time instructing in a simulator and doing practice tanker hook ups is good enough. :wink:


DC-10 10/23/07:

Superscooper 10/23/07:


Nonsense. Got a cite?