Here’s How The World Famous Fire Fighting Plane Works
A big plane flying that low and dropping that much is impressive, to say the least.
Let's have a look at how this mega-fire fighting machine works.
Casper/Natrona International Airport has the longest and widest runways in the area. That's why these big birds are landing there for service this fire season.
The airport has been proudly posting these photos and videos on its Facebook page.
If you're thinking, that looks like a passenger plane, you would be correct.
Look at the thing hanging under its belly. That's part of the system that extends up into the fuselage.
Here is a video of one of these planes landing at the Casper airport.
While it is impressive how much they can drop in one pass, each pass is a lot of work and extraordinarily expensive.
It takes a large crew to reload the plane with fuel and fire retardant. They work as quickly as they can to get the plane back in the air for another drop.
This airplane is a DC-10. It weighs in at 400,000 pounds fully loaded. It rushes to the fire at 460 miles per hour.
Imagine what the pilots must feel as they drop most of that weight over the fire in just a couple of seconds. The plane will suddenly pull up as the weight disappears beneath them.
Watch the video below and you'll get an idea of how this system works
In case you have been wondering, that red fire retardant is actually just water mixed with nitrogen.
It is colored red to the next plane in can see where the last plane dropped its load.
The mixture of water and nitrogen makes it a substance that is hard to evaporate.
That way the leading head of the fire cannot evaporate the water before the fire gets to it. The red load is dropped in front of the fire.
A full load of retardant on this airplane weights in at 60 tons.
All that weight is tough to get into the air. That is why there are 3 big engines.
Each engine provides 20 thousand pounds of trust.
The longest runway at Casper/Natrona airport is 10,165 feet long and 150 feet wide. You better believe they are using every bit of it to take off.
If you think all of this is impressive, you ain't seen NOTHIN'!
Yesterday we posted this photo of the pilot of this plane doing a low passing drop in the Black Hills of Wyoming.
Imagine the training that goes in to teaching these pilots how to do this.
Download the Wake Up Wyoming App, because we have an article coming that shows you how these guys are trained to fly like this. You'll want a notification when we post it.