By July 4 of this year, Evergreen International Aviation hopes to gain independence from firefighting the old-fashioned way. The McMinnville, Oregon-based company is working with the FAA to obtain certification for Evergreen "Supertankers") -- retrofit Boeing 747s capable of carrying 24,000 gallons of fire retardant each. Supertanker spokesman Justin Marchand tells AVweb the flight-test aircraft has made more than 50 flights and 82 drops and carried 536,000 gallons -- 4.5 million pounds -- of retardant. Why a 747? "I like the analogy 'why send in a single soldier when you can send in the army,'" says Marchand. This aircraft is going to be very effective in its mission." As AVweb reported last week, a plan called the Strategic Aerial Firefighting Excellence (SAFE) Initiative has already called for the replacement of the current aging heavy air-tanker fleet over the next ten years.