Albuquerque acts as home base for firefighting jumbo jets | KOB 4

Albuquerque acts as home base for firefighting jumbo jets

Hawker Vanguard
May 07, 2018 01:02 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Parts of New Mexico are preparing for a heavy fire season. Ready to fight any flames that pop up is a fleet of specially modified jumbo jets operated by the 10 Tanker Air Carrier. Those DC-10s can drop nearly 10,000 gallons of fire retardant in one pass.


Capt. RK Smithley is a former airline pilot who traded in his passengers for pressurized firefighting.

“We used to carry 330 passengers where I'm standing... now we carry about 85 thousand pounds of retardant stored in three tanks which are bolted basically to the belly of the aircraft,” said Smithley.

The 10 tanker fleet serves wildfires around the world but uses Albuquerque as its home base.

“It's good for our aircraft. We can work on them in the winter, the climate’s right, and it's a good place to live," President John Gould said. "We love Albuquerque.”

When the fleet is activated on a mission, specialized mechanics must keep those large jets maintained. A separate fleet of ground support trucks follow the planes, on the ground just in case an aircraft blows a tire, or needs a minor repair.

Smithley said these jets will serve their new purpose as firefighting tankers for years to come.

"What we're doing with this DC-10 Mister Douglas never envisioned," he said. "I’m sure.”


Hawker Vanguard

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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