SACRAMENTO -- The so-called Global SuperTanker, took off from Sacramento on its first mission for the State of California this summer on Saturday; headed to the Klamathon Fire at the Oregon border.
“We can reach the Southern tip of California in about 40 minutes, we can reach their northern side in 30-32 minutes,” said Marcos Valdez who pilots the plane.
Valdez took FOX40 on a tour just before the firefighting behemoth was deployed.
The 747 used to be a passenger plane.
No seats or over-head luggage compartments anymore.
Instead, tanks for some 19,200 gallons of firefighting liquid; water, foam or retardant.
That’s approaching twice as much capacity as Cal Fire’s next largest plane, the DC - 10.
Even fully loaded, the Super Tanker does 600 mph.
There are four good reasons this plane travels that fast; four jet engines each with 68,000 pounds of thrust, propelling the plane in its mission.
Having a tool this big in the tool box does come with a big price tag. According to a report in the “San Bernadino Sun” from last fall, which was the first time Cal Fire hired the Global Super Tanker team, the aircraft costs $163,000 every three days and $16,500 for every hour in-flight.
“Fires at getting larger, more damaging, faster. And that’s just what’s happening here in California. This aircraft is the largest, the fastest,” said Brice Bennett with Cal Fire.
The jet will be stationed in Sacramento’s McClellan airbase, the only Cal Fire base large enough to house it. If this season is as bad or worse as last fire season, it could be here through Christmas.
“We hope that the asset is available, and never gets used. That’s truly what you want out of a machine like this,” said Valdez.