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Evergreen International's 747 Supertanker

Jumbo Jet demonstrates fire fighting capabilities - By Clark Cook, Editor

Sacramento, CA - A Boeing 747 Supertanker geared for aerial firefighting was showed off on Thursday, June 11. The jumbo jet was flown and demonstrated an impressive water drop at McClellan Airport as officials from the state of California, the federal government and members of the local media looked on. After the demo, state and government officials as well as the media were able to get an up close look inside and outside the aircraft.

Built in 1970, this airframe initially started service with Delta Airlines and has also been operated by Pan Am and China Airlines. Evergreen acquired it in in 1991 and modified it to the current air tanker configuration.

James Baynes, project manager for Evergreen International Aviation, said the $50 million aircraft carries twice as much fire retardant as DC-10s, the largest firefighting aircraft currently under contract with CalFire in California."We're dropping 20,000 gallons. A lot of the current fleet drop around 2,500 gallons, so we're about eight to 10 times the capacity of current airtankers", said Baynes. The Super Tanker comes at a hefty price - about a $3 million contract to operate it or to keep it on standby. Evergreen, based in McMinnville, Ore., plans to convert as many as 10 of the retired passenger jets to fight fires worldwide.

Federal and state officials will be evaluating the tanker. California fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said the aircraft can drop a line of retardant up to three miles long but cannot maneuver into tight mountain canyons like the current smaller tankers and helicopters can. For more information, please visit

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