Most of the aircraft being used today are some 50-60 years old, many of which are former military aircraft which are capable of handling both the weight and the operating limitations. These pilot jobs have long hours in stressful conditions flying through smoke, updrafts, downdrafts and close to the ground in mountainous areas – jobs not for the faint of heart.I don’t know what kind of money these pilots make flying those old, weary World War II aircraft, but I bet you really earn every penny flying these aircraft.
That is not to say the jobs are too dangerous, or not worth considering if you are looking for work as a pilot. Rather, I am sure it takes a special kind of pilot to want to do this kind of work, and it is sure to be rewarding work as well.
In recent years there has been a lot of conversation about replacement aircraft with suggestions that moving to the Bae-146 4-engine jet aircraft which has been used in passenger service around the world with a number of airlines.
Designed in 1983 as a regional jet, production ended in 2002 and a number of these aircraft are available for conversion to firefighting aircraft and are seen by some operators like Neptune Aviation as a possible replacement for the older aircraft.On the other hand some companies are moving to much larger firefighting aircraft like the Douglas DC-10 aircraft being operated by 10 Tanker Air Carrier, Inc. Based in California 10 Tanker has flown more than 350 fire missions over many different kinds of terrain both in the Western United States and Australia.
These highly modified aircraft are capable of dropping 11,600 gallons of retardant, gel, foam or water in the external tanks afixed to the bottom of the aircraft. Many fire fighting experts feel that these aircraft are real “game changers” and that they have proven very effective due to the drop capacity, speed and reliability.
The aircraft are currently on what is called a “Call When Needed” contract which makes investment difficult for private operators in terms of cost effectiveness and response time availability. 10 Tanker feels that it needs a multi-year exclusive use contract in order to continue to make these aircraft available for the U.S. Forest Service.
Here are two very interesting videos showing these aircraft off:
In this video you can see some actual fire retardant drops by these beautiful aircraft:
The Douglas DC-10 is a magnificent aircraft that has served the public well for many years, and you can have your very own Douglas DC-10 Model Aircraft
to display proudly on your desk or at home – get your very own model today!
In the meantime keep your wings straight and level Hersch!
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