USA– The biggest fire fighting planes in the United States are preparing to take off from Albuquerque as wildfire season begins. The company known as 10 Tanker calls the Duke City home but its pilots and jets travel across the country to fight fires. In the past decade, it has made about 1 850 flights while working on about 400 fires from Nebraska to the west coast. The company even made missions to Canada and Australia. “We think we can bring a better tool to the effort because we boil it down to four words, More, sooner, safer, cheaper,” President and chief executive officer, Rick Hatton said, “More because we carry more, sooner because we have jet speed to and from, safer because the less flying you do to get the job done the safer you are and last but not least, cheaper because there are those economies of scale.”
10 Tanker has a fleet of three DC-10 planes, which Hatton said, fly four times faster than most fire fighting planes and the tanks carry nearly 12 000 gallons of fire retardant.
Hatton said Laguna Pueblo is a perfect place to practice and for the pilots to work on their annual certification because of wide open spaces with vegetation and terrain and varying elevation. He said it’s very similar to areas they’ll encounter while facing fires this spring and summer. It’s also just 20 miles from Albuquerque.
The company is receiving interest from pilots and fire fighters in South America. A pilot from Buenos Aires, Ezequiel Sicardi, flew to Albuquerque this week to learn more about the approach after recent large fires in the Andes Mountains.
“A severe fire happened and the Chilean government didn’t have the resources to at least control the fire and many people got killed due to that,” Sicardi said.
“We are here to take pictures and video to bring the Argentine authorities to take a look at the activity of the training of the 10 Tanker in New Mexico desert,” he said. “So that they come back to South America with a clear picture of how capable and how important is the service that 10 Tanker can provide in South America.”