...You Call, We Haul

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Consider that an Evergreen Supertanker will carry in one load what it would take seven other firefighting planes to haul, and it will be able to get to the fire clipping along at Mach .86 (near 600 mph). Each Supertanker will carry 24,000 gallons of flame retardant, which weighs 9 pounds per gallon. That's 216,000 pounds of material that will be leaving the plane in eight seconds. That would be an interesting ride. Or maybe not. According to Marchand, data collected so far and borne out by the flight tests shows only a "negligible" g-loading (or un-loading?) when a drop is made. "Since it is a fully pressurized system, you can't even tell [when a drop is made] from a cockpit aspect," says Marchand. Neither does hauling such a big load put the jumbo on the cusp of weight problems. Even fully loaded, the 747 is still 150,000 pounds shy of its max takeoff weight. AVweb was contacted by a reader who told us an announcement was made to local pilots that one of the Supertankers would be based at the Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, this summer. Marchand says no decision has yet been made on aircraft placement, but that Evergreen plans to have a "fleet" of Supertankers once certification is received. One thing seems certain. With drought and fire already causing problems in the western U.S., the 747 will likely see a lot of action, and its nickname could change from "jumbo" to "cavalry."