There's a wealth of information there about the U.S. Forest Service's continued lack of interest in aggressively addressing the wildland fire situation in the USA. The Russian government has for years had a standing offer of the use of the massive Ilyushin aircraft for testing and use in the US, free of charge, with the only request being fuel for the aircraft and temporary housing for it's crews...and the U.S. Forest Service has always declined. These mammoth jet air tanker s dwarf even the largest firefighting air tankers in the U.S. arsenal, and have been proven effective in huge wildfires in Russia, Greece, Australia and elsewhere.
Rep Dana Rohrabacher R-CA and Curt Weldon, R-Pa have worked hard in past times to help in these matters, as discussed here: "Could Russian Waterbomber Save California?"
but apparently it's all fallen apart at this point. If your home burns this year as a result of a wildfire, be sure to send a nice thank-you to the U.S. Forest service, who have done everything they can to block measures to pursue truly effective wildland firefighting methods.
That being the case they have decided wisely.
Contiued airworthiness MUST be maintained, lest the aircraft be patched together with auto parts and radio shack components and crews would be flying on more "prayer" than "wing".
Firefighting certainly wasn't what Glenn L. Martin had in mind for the design of the Martin Mars. Originally conceived as a bomber for long range missions and patrols, the production aircraft were redesigned and classified for long-range general transport because of the demonstrated heavy-lift capability of the prototype. The "Big Four", as they were affectionately known, established airlift and endurance records which remain valid today and they logged some 87,000 accident-free hours before being retired by the USN and sold to Flying Tankers. Mr. Martin would be very pleased to know his original intention of the Mars in a bomber role came to pass in their second career as waterbombers.
Philippine Mars White Tail - side drop system Canadian Registration C-FLYK S/N 76820
Red Tail - bottom drop system Canadian Registration C-FLYL S/N 76823
During the fire season, the aircraft are kept in a state of readiness to meet the existing fire hazard conditions. They can be in the air in ten minutes and, based on historical data, each can make a drop every fifteen minutes. Working in tandem, this equates to 7,200 US gallons (27,276 litres) every seven minutes and each drop can cover an area of up to 4 acres (1.6 hectares). It has often been said that the Mars, with a 60,000 pound (27,216 kilogram) payload of foam, is like "hand-grenades or horseshoes - close is good enough" but such is not the case. The highly experienced Mars pilots, working closely with the fire boss, deliver the water or foam right where it is needed.
Each Mars carries 600 US gallons (2,270 litres) of foam concentrate - enough for 21 drops of a 0.4% solution which is the standard used although it may be decided to use more or less foam as dictated by the Fire Boss.
The Canadair CL-215 was the first aircraft ever designed specifically for Water Bombing. While the PBY Canso was modified from its role as a military submarine patrol aircraft, the CL-215 was created as an actual Water Bomber.
After departing the airport, the CL-215 crew of two heads directly for a suitable scooping lake as close to the forest fire as possible. An inspection run is made on the lake to insure that it is of suitable length and has no obstructions which could hamper the safety of the aircraft and flight crew. The aircraft then touches down on the lake and scoops 12000 lbs of water into the internal tanks within ten seconds. At this point the water pickup probes are retracted and the aircraft leaps into the air, heading towards the fire. The Air Attack Officer on board the birddog aircraft instructs the water bomber flight crew where and how to drop the load. He may ask that the crew inject a harmless soap-like solution into the water tanks through an onboard computer. This will give the water a foam-like consistency to help increase its holding time at the fire. As there are two water tanks onboard the aircraft, both loads of water may either be dropped together or separately as the fire conditions dictate.
With the ability to scoop in close proximity to the fire, the CL-215 is able to deliver an enormous amount of water within a very short time. This provides excellent Initial Attack and Sustained Action support for ground crews on the fire line.
Primary Function: water bomber
Wingspan 93' 11"
Speed: 236 mph
Ceiling: 20,000 feet
Range: 1,513 miles
Year Deployed: 1994
Better check with DOD first. These 8 military C-130's are Air National Guard. Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom are higher priority than western forest fires -- unless they just activate us all for both.
1. Make a huge buy of Canadair CL-415 water bombers for the US Forest Service, maybe as many as 100-125 planes. The CL-415 is probably one of the best of its kind, designed specifically for the rigors of low-level flying needed for water bombing.
2. Modify a number of rebuilt C-130E/H Hercules planes to drop containers loaded with water that looks like a dodecahedron. Popular Mechanics mentioned idea this late in 2003 and they said this allows for more wider area coverage of flame-retarding water and also allow the drop plane to fly higher, too.
3. Fill artillery shells and/or short-range bombardment rockets with liquid nitrogen and fire them directly into the fire. When the shell or rocket filled with liquid nitrogen explodes in the fire, the combination of sudden extreme cold and the quick removal of oxygen to feed the flame at the impact point will quickly put out the fire. And unlike conventional fire retardants, liquid nitrogen will quickly evaporate away and not become an environmental hazard. I remember at the end of Operation Desert Storm they actually tried it out and it did work to put out the oil well fires.
"The planes were reactivated after a new inspection program was developed at the Energy Department's Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, N.M., but the NTSB said in its report last month that maintenance and inspection programs were still inadequate."
Well, you might conclude, that, when your muffler falls off the car, and you go to the telephone company to fix it, that "maintenance and inspection programs were still inadequate."
You see how easy it is, at times, to spot the "39%" in the Bush [still running 39% of the Clinton] Administration?
It is on this note, that I take my leave.
See you in a couple months.