Saturday, May 8, 2010

DC-10 Fire-Bomber - The Big Stick

Wild fires are a fact of life in Southern California. With the expansion of homes and housing tracts into the hills and mountain areas around Los Angeles the threat to life and property is a seasonal worry.

One of the tools in the firefighter's arsenal is the aerial water tanker. For many years they were surplus World War II aircraft. Then it was 1950s and 1960s aircraft. Lately it has included specially built aircraft supplemented by modified helicopters.

The most intriguing recent development was the conversion of commercial jumbo jets to the fire fighting role. This is one of them, the Douglas DC-10 tri-jet. It is big, it is impressive and it can carry a heck of a lot of water. Plus it can make multiple drops in one mission before landing to refill its tanks.

The DC-10 made an appearance at this year's March ARB open house on May 1. The day was spectacularly clear and the sun angle was gorgeous. Watching a DC-10 that low and dropping that much water was simply awesome.

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