Wildland fire fighters know well that the quicker a big air slurry tanker can get to a new wildland fire, the more likely they can keep it from spreading and becoming a far more expensive fire to fight. Over the past ten years, much of the U.S. Forest Service and BLM air tankers have been mothballed due to age. There have also been a number of disastrous tanker crashes that have claimed many lives. Crashes are frequently caused by the simple age of the aircraft; some up to 50 to 60 years old. Carrying thousands of pounds of fire fighting slurry over rugged terrain and through unstable air takes a big toll on those aircraft, some of which simply collapse in the air while making high stress maneuvers.
Here’s more on the story from the Oregonian. Click here.