Almost everyone is aware of the fire in Amazon Rainforest right now. Firefighters and soldiers across the region are busy trying to fight the flames, but the resources are proving to be thin, and much of the fire is unreachable, set by ranchers and farmers in remote locations. That is where a Boeing 747-400 jet – The Global SuperTanker – comes in!
The Global SuperTanker is basically a Boeing 747-400 that has been modified to be able to carry 20,000 gallons of water and fire retardant. It has been contracted by the Bolivian government in an attempt to help fight the fire in the Amazon. The jet and its crew made their way to the country on August 22. Global SuperTanker President, Dan Reese, said that the 15-person crew is on a two-week contract and has been making on an average four flights per day.
Reese said, ‘We really didn’t know what to expect down here. The difference here is the sheer numbers of fires and the volume of fires on the ground.’ Most of the fires are unstaffed since there are not enough firefighters to take them on. The Global SuperTanker is a single tool in an arsenal that houses many. The primary purpose of SuperTanker is to knock down the flames, thus allowing the firefighters on the ground to be more effective.
Reese explains, ‘A lot of people think that air tankers outright put the fire out, but that’s not the case. For our aircraft to be really effective, we work best in concert with firefighters on the ground.’ The huge plane is capable of sweeping as low as 200 to 250 feet above the ground for dousing the flames. The Global SuperTanker has been dropping more than 19,000 gallons of water during the course of each flight. It has been retrofitted to unload water and ammonia-based fire retardant but is only unloading water because officials didn’t want to impact the already devastated ecosystem.
The Global SuperTanker is not new to fighting fires and has been used for tackling wildland fires across the United States, Chile, Australia, and the Middle East. There is no estimate on how long it will take before the fires in the Amazon are taken out. Reese has said that the Bolivian government has the opportunity to extend the contract. However, he says, ‘We’re willing to assist whichever country calls us.’