Lars Larson: Evergreen Aviation’s fire fighting water tanker

Is there a good reason why that 747 water tanker was still sitting on the ground after one successful drop yesterday?

You know there are a lot of times I wish I could control the mainstream media. I’d love it if last night we’d seen a lot of national news stories about a particular 747 aircraft. It’s the one that was originally dreamed up by my friend, Dell Smith, at Evergreen Aviation. That’s the company that currently flies to every corner of the globe, to Dubai and Peking and every other place.

Dell Smith came up with a really unique idea””turn a 747 into an air tanker capable of dropping water or retardant, or both, on big forest fires like the ones currently burning in California.

They did one successful drop yesterday and then the plane sat on the ramp. There’s no sense to it. This plane can drop a path of water or retardant 100 yards wide and three miles long. That thing should have been flying all day yesterday putting out those big fires.

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  • Anonymous

    How come the media isn’t giving Obama and the treatment Bush got for FEMA and Katrina?

    Obama and Obama’s US Forest Service is needlessly allowing California to burn just as supposedly Bush let Katrina flood.

    Worse, the [Obama’s] US Forest Service’s jitters and red tape have effectively killed an even bigger firefighting aircraft, a Boeing 747 Supertanker that was converted into a water-bomber capable of dropping 24,000 gallons of retardant — twice as much as even Tanker 910. Here’s a video of the 747 Supertanker making a test drop:

  • v person

    I’m sure professional wild land firefighters appreciate Lars’ advice. Let me offer a perspective from someone who knows a bit about the subject.

    First, dumping water from a plane on a 100,000 plus acre fire is like throwing a thimble of water on a bonfire. It ain’t gonna put it out. And it is very expensive. And large tankers can’t get close enough to the ground in very rugged terrain to make accurate drops, which is why smaller planes and helicopters are used in these areas. So maybe you want to waste taxpayer money on your friends’ plane, but I prefer to let those in the incident command center make that call.

    Second, Obama has been in office 7 months. It was the Bush Administration that cancelled the contracts of private tankers due to safety concerns after a big accident in 2004.

    Third, big wildfires were with us before Bush or Obama and will be long after they both are gone. These fires are managed in the field by career professionals, not by political appointees like “Heckuva job Brownie.”

    Fourth, Southern California ecosystems are very fire prone. Always have been and always will be. The better job we do at putting out fires early and often means that fuels accumulate more, leading to fewer but larger fires instead of more smaller ones.

    If people continue to build homes in fire prone areas, homes and lives are going to be lost, and lots of taxpayer money is going to be spent trying to protect them.

    • Rupert in Springfield

      We know the math Dean. If some sort of natural disaster happens and it’s a Republican president, its his fault. If a natural disaster happens and it’s a Democrat president, it’s the previous Republican presidents fault.

      I mean that’s how things were with your comments on this blog after Katrina.

      I sure don’t remember your excusing the Bush administration by saying these things were managed by career professionals on the ground, not political appointees.

      I sure don’t remember you blaming the people of New Orleans for building a city below sea level like you now do with Californians building near forests.

      Who knows if you really know much about the subject. If you do, you are very selective in how you apply whatever knowledge you do have.

      But hey – you have your partisan hack blame game down pat!

      • v person

        Given that Katrina happened in the summer of 2005, and I did not even discover the Catalyst until 2006 (when some yahoo posted a hit piece on me,) I’m not surprised that you don’t recall me commenting on something I did not comment on.

        “I sure don’t remember your excusing the Bush administration by saying these things were managed by career professionals on the ground, not political appointees.”

        Ignoring for a moment that I did not comment at all on this topic, I think the point of others criticism was that Bush appointed Brownie as head of FEMA, and he was not a career professional anything. And the results were not pretty. And Bush praised him for those results. You can defend the indefensible if you choose.

        As for New Orleans, in fact I have written, if not here certainly elsewhere, that spending taxpayer funds to rebuild neighborhoods 15 or more feet below sea level is ridiculous, particularly given global warming and surely rising sea levels. And to make matters worse, the Mississippi River is overdue to change course 100 miles to the west within our lifetimes, which will leave NO a backwater swamp rather than a major seaport. New Orleans should accept its geographic limitations and be rebuilt only on the high ground as a relic tourist town. The high ground is not very high but did survive the flood, and the french engineers who first built there knew what they were doing.

        “Who knows if you really know much about the subject.”

        You want my resume?

        • Rupert in Springfield

          >I’m not surprised that you don’t recall me commenting on something I did not comment on.

          Yep, sure, you never said a thing about Bush and Katrina, nope never blamed him at all.

          Fine, lets see you say here and now that you think the criticism of Bush for Katrina was entirely overblown. That he really didn’t have much responsibility as it was handled by career people on the ground not his administration.

          And nice try with the rebuilding effort. Thats not what I was talking about and you know it. I want to see you excuse Bush for the Katrina response and blame the citizens for building below sea level the same way you excuse BO and blame the citizens for building near forests. No one is talking about the rebuilding effort so dont try that dodge again.

          I doubt you can do it. But, if you were an honest liberal you would deplore the criticism of Bush for Katrina that many on the left indulged in with the same vehemence that you excuse BO from criticism by the right.

          You won’t do it and we all know that. If you did I would fully admit I was wrong in calling you a partisan hack.

          • v person

            Rupert, you seemed to be in some sort of intellectual decline. I’m worried about you. The discussion here was about the wisdom of the non use of Lars’ friend tanker plane to fight fires, and you want to make it about Katrina and Bush. You seem stuck on the past, as if every present event has to atone for some past criticism of your boy Bush.

            Lets start with the obvious. The destruction of nearly an entire major city by a hurricane and the burning of a few dozen homes in a California wildfire are events of far different magnitudes. No one expected Bush to stop the hurricane. No one expected him to undo 100 years of fools building a town below sea level with inadequate defenses against predictable storms. People did expect him to appoint capable people to positions of importance, and for those people to have made adequate preparations for a major hurricane during hurricane season. He didn’t, they didn’t, local and state officials also screwed up, much of the city had been built where it never should have been, and the result was pretty bad for those clinging to roof tops and very expensive for all of us.

            I am an honest liberal. And I don’t deplore most of the criticism Bush got. It was well deserved. And if Obama, after 4-5 years in office decides to cut spending for wildland fuel reduction (as Bush did for Army Corps levy reinforcement,) and appoints a know-nothing to head the Forest Service, and a major city burns to the ground, and the federal government waits 4 days to get resuce personel and supplies in, I’ll be equally critical of him ok? Fair is fair.

            But this tanker plane nonsense? Get a grip. Its the wrong tool for that job in that place, and its far too late to use it in any case. If you want to spend your money on it to help Lars’ friend, be my guest. But include me out.

          • Rupert in Springfield

            >I am an honest liberal. And I don’t deplore most of the criticism Bush got.

            I asked you to deplore the criticism of a specific event. I knew you couldn’t do it. All you would have had to say was simply, yes, it was ridiculous Bush got so much criticism for Katrina. But no, somehow its all his fault that in a city and state run by Democrats that he didn’t appoint people to make it all better. Somehow it was all Bush’s fault that the governor wouldn’t declare an emergency so Bush could act even though he personally pleaded with her to do so.

            Well – Sure seems like BO just got excused by you because all the stuff on the ground was not run by appointees.

            You remain, as always, someone who checks the party affiliation before deciding what to think.

            Thanks for the confirmation.

          • v person

            Rupert, still stuck on Katrina? Honestly, I don’t know how to make this any plainer for you. Most of the criticism Bush got on Katrina was about the poor emergency response. He appointed an incompetant dolt in charge of FEMA, (who a few years earlier sent $60 million in disaster relief funds to a city NOT hit by a hurricane,) the dolt fell asleep at the wheel, did not know refugees were in the Super dome even though it was ll over the air waves, and then Bush publicly praised him. So all I have to say is simply NO, it was NOT ridiculous Bush got so much criticism. He earned it simply by appointing an incompetant to a critical position.

            Yes, Louisiana Democrats also screwed up. But this was a national emergency, not a local one, and feeble attempts to shift the blame to Louisiana fell flat as they should have. Did Bush sit around and wait for the Governor of New York to declare an emergency before sending him support?

            You need to let this one go Rupert. There is nothing to excuse Obama for. Nothing. There is a big fire in rugged terrain covered with very flammable vegetation during a drought with high winds. Professional government and contract fire fighters are on the scene making tactical decision as to what equipment to bring in, where to send personnel, what to defend, and the rest. LA has not burned down, and the government is by all accounts except Lars doing its job.

            You are simply projecting your own inability to look past party on me.

  • Joe

    These loser bureaucrats couldn’t put out a paper bag burning on their front porch.

  • Anonymous


    Your pretentious BS of expertice is a hoot.

    You don’t don’t know what you are talking about with these 747 water bombers.
    Evergreen didn’t invest countless millions in them because they don’t work.

    Your politicking has become a stench on this blog.

    • v person

      “Evergreen didn’t invest countless millions in them because they don’t work. ”

      They work for some fires sometimes. But who makes the call whether to pay for them on any particular fire? Lars Larsen? You? The company that wants to make a profit on their investment? Or the career fire officials managing the fire fighting?

      Why is it that “conservatives” are always so eager to waste taxpayer money?

      If you don’t like my stench then move on.

      • Moe

        I agree. Profits are evil.

  • Saurooon

    Super post, Need to mark it on Digg

  • Anonymous

    First you said your expertise knew they don’t work. Now you say they work some times.

    Of course they work but not for every fire circumstance.

    What doesn’t work is your BS stench.
    Not with firefighting, not education, not land use transportation or health care. Your hanging out here to ambush every conversation with your partisan manipulation and obfuscation is what it is and no more.

    • v person

      Tanker planes are useful as initial attack on remote fires in terrain that allows them to get within a few hundred feet of the surface safely. They are also useful in wetting perimeters to help steer a fire in a more favorable direction. But to put out a 100,000 acre fire in rugged terrain with high winds? I don’t think so. Bottom line is that neither you nor me nor Rupert nor Lars knows enough to make a tactical decision on what equipment to deploy during a fire. I know enough about wildfire behavior and wildfire management to know that much.

      I also know that fighting these fires costs us a lot of money. And big planes cost a lot of money. So do the taxpayer math.

      I don’t care who you think I am or what you think my motivations are. You don’t own this space and you don’t get to decide who posts here and who doesn’t, so get over yourself. Move past your anger and try to debate without name calling.

  • JR

    It’s real simple, Lars:

    Fires are ‘jobs’ under Bambi’s economic plan. The 747 has the capacity to reduce the need for those jobs.

    Thus, the plane is a threat to employment. I’m surprised you missed that.


    • JR


      I meant the fires ‘create’ jobs for firefighters…

  • SonyaSunny

    Greatings, Amazing! Not clear for me, how offen you updating your
    Thank you

  • Anonymous


    Like so many other spins I never suggested I get to decide who posts here.

    But I will continue to highlight your obvious motivations and cronic lying on topic after topic here.

    On this thread you embellished your knowledge of firefiighting and fabricated expertise on these bombers.
    You have no measure of their effectiveness yet lie to diminish it.

    You call your stunts debating then add more by framing reaction as “anger”.

    I know you and yours very well. Your approach is always the same.

    Why you hang out here so much and never show up elsewhere is suspect as well.

    Here in Oregon you represent the worst of public participation. Continually advocating for and covering up the mismanagement and boondoggle parade our leftist nitwit officials perpetrate.

    • v person

      Take your pills and calm yourself.

  • WinMan750

    Don’t want to wade into the Katrina tomcat argument, as it has nothing to do with the 747 or the fire.

    However, I understand that the 747 tanker can drop continuous for fire lines or spots multiple times.
    20,000 gallons a flight.

    I understand it is very expensive by the hour.

    But just how much per gallon does it cost versus other aircraft?

    It is absolutely correct that once the fire really gets going, it is relatively just a thimbleful,
    especially if it is only water.

    That said:

    Perhaps more than just one 747 would be a better approach?

    Perhaps we need to be thinking about better retardents?

    Say types that could be effective, even if dropped from 800 feet?

    The 747 certainly has its limitations. It can’t drop in all conditions or all terrain.

    Perhaps the best use for this aircraft could be as a first response.

    If its drops can give crews (or other aircraft) a chance to get into bad terrain before the fire gets way too big, and too hot, it might just make a big enough difference to be worth the expense.

    Or we can continue to do what we have been doing.

    Just let fires get big enough so that the Feds pick up 3/4 of the cost.

    People die. Property gets wasted. Erosion follows.

    • v person

      WinMan…you show some evidence of knowledge of wild land fire fighting. My point all along has been that those on the ground are best equipped to make the call as to what equipment to deploy when and where. They know what piece is most capable of what response over what terrain in what wind and smoke conditions. Not Lars, not me, and not the other posters here. When fires get real big, like the current one in California, nothing is going to put it out in the end except mother nature. Firefighters can defend certain areas and maybe help steer the fire away from inhabited areas or crucial resources (i.e. municipal watersheds). That’s about it.

      The extent to which the Feds get involved in fires depends on where they start and where they end up. States also spend a lot on wildfire management. If a fire happens in say Forest Park, it will be city, other local agencies, and the state that end up dealing with it. The Feds may send some support if it gets serious. But they won’t be the main players unless the state throws up its hands.

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