USA – DC-10 a dud in battle against flames

DC-10 a dud in battle against flames

26 June 2007

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SAN FRANCISCO – A one-time passenger jet modified to fight wildfires remained grounded Tuesday after striking the tops of several trees and nearly crashing while battling a mountain blaze along the San Joaquin Valley’s southern edge.

The DC-10 air tanker was unveiled with much fanfare by California fire officials last year as the first firefighting jet of its kind and used again in 2007 despite the U.S. Forest Service’s refusal to certify the plane for firefighting use.

The plane was preparing to drop fire retardant along a Kern County ridge when a severe downdraft forced the aircraft to sink 100 to 200 feet, said Mike Padilla, chief of aviation for California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The jet’s left wing clipped the tops of several trees, estimated to be 100 to 150 feet tall, but the pilots powered safely out of the descent.

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