Airtanker Shows Off Firefighting Prowess

A Boeing 747 Supertanker has been showing off its firefighting ability to officials from California and the federal government.

James Baynes, project manager for Evergreen International Aviation, said the $50 million aircraft carries twice as much fire retardant as DC-10s. Those are the largest firefighting aircraft currently under contract in California.

The Supertanker did a demonstration flight Thursday at McClellan Airfield.

Evergreen, based in McMinnville, Ore., plans to convert as many as 10 of the retired passenger jets to fight fires worldwide.

"We're dropping 20,00 gallons. A lot of the current fleet drop around 2,500 gallons," Jim Baynes from Evergreen Supertankers said. "So we're about 8 to 10 times the capacity of current airtankers."

Federal and state officials are evaluating the Supertanker. California fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said the aircraft can drop a line of retardant up to three miles long but cannot navigate tight mountain canyons.

The aircraft is costly -- about $3 million to use it for service or to keep it on standby. contributed to this article.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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