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View Diary: Flight Engineer - A Dying Breed (106 comments)

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  •  Economics lets some very old planes (19+ / 0-)

    ...keep flying as freighters.  There are lots of DC-10s and MD-11s still flying freight.  

    Low capital cost outweighs fuel when a plane is not flown frequently.

    Enjoyed the diary!

    •  DC-3 ... (12+ / 0-)

      Have you read "hunting warbirds" ?
      There is a guy in that book who flies DC-3s .
      He says that if he has one crash and burn ,
      he knows where some DC-3s are sitting out in fields
      and that he can recover them and fix them up for replacements .

      "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

      by indycam on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 10:53:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Have not, sounds interesting (7+ / 0-)

        Saw my only DC-3 outside a museum on the tarmac at Fairbanks airport in the mid-90s.  Much more impressive to see one in active use.

      •  It's not that long since they were still (7+ / 0-)

        dropping water and retardant on forest fires every summer all over the west, as well as deploying smoke jumpers and hauling cargo, and not that long since I watched them fly over my house on the way to a fire.

        From this page, it looks like the Forest Service retired the last one in 2010, but the retardant guys are often contractors - don't know if they're still flying any.

        I believe there was an accident a few years ago that grounded DC3s, and they may not have been allowed since then.

        In some cases they've been replaced by 747s.

        In Soviet Russia, you rob bank. In America, bank robs you.

        by badger on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 01:02:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  747 fire retardant drops ? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          badger

          "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

          by indycam on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 02:51:08 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  They have been used in the past (0+ / 0-)

            I've talked to fire fighters who have seen them used on a fire near Walla Walla or that side of WA State a few years ago. That fire was in flatter terrain than a lot of fires, though.

            In Soviet Russia, you rob bank. In America, bank robs you.

            by badger on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 03:25:19 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Did you read the article ? (0+ / 0-)
              That fire was in flatter terrain than a lot of fires, though.
              The guy who did up the 747 says he can fly higher so flat isn't needed for him / his plane .
              He also says that because he can drop from higher up , he can drop at night .
              Anyway , his plane is sitting doing not much ...

              "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

              by indycam on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 03:35:01 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yeah, I read it (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Deward Hastings, elfling, Cobbler, Kevskos

                The guy's talking from his perspective, where he gets to fly his plane and make a lot of money. The Forest Service is operating from the perspective of fighting fires, which they're really good at, and his plane will often not match up with their needs, no matter how good he thinks he is.

                And at best planes drop water or retardant, not 'extinguisher' - they don't put out fires bigger than a few acres. Big fires are contained on the ground, usually by denying the fire area in which to continue spreading - from a 6 inch wide fire line to dozer-width lines to burning out a few hundred yards in front of the fire. Sometimes they want areas to burn, too. If his operation doesn't match up with those strategies, it isn't needed.

                I don't think the guy is cost-effective, or even effective, just because he says so. Maybe he is, maybe not.

                There are considerations of accuracy, cost compared to other options, or simply the fact that most fires aren't within a few hundred miles of an airport that can handle a 747, so his turn around time is terrible plus he burns a lot fuel round trip.

                Our fire last September had a chopper dipping water from a beaver pond less than a mile from the fire. Between his lower cost per hour, lower fuel consumption, and round trip time (3 or 4 minutes at most), I'd bet he could put more water on the fire per hour more precisely for a lot less money than a 747.

                In Soviet Russia, you rob bank. In America, bank robs you.

                by badger on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 04:43:52 PM PST

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          •  Not sure about 747 (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            badger, Rhysling

            There is at least one DC-10 firefighter, however.

            If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

            by Major Kong on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 04:27:30 PM PST

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        •  ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TomFromNJ

          http://www.baslerturbo.com/...

          http://www.flightglobal.com/...

          Reporting on the biggest oil-spill disaster in history, the biggest newspaper in New Orleans - the Times-Picayune - alerted readers on 21 July that help was on the way.

          "A New Orleans company ordered the purchase of a high-tech plane," the Times-Picayune reported in a front-page story, describing the $6.5 million aircraft as the "biggest investment in Gulf spill cleanup in the past two decades".

          It was the Basler Turbo BT-67, an airframe that could be considered modern only by geological standards.

          "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

          by indycam on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 03:18:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  15-25+ years ago the US-Mexican smuggling (0+ / 0-)

        activity was mostly southbound delivering consumer goods down there (electronics, etc.) to avoid steep import taxes (and mordida), with some stuff like loads of parrots coming back (and that other stuff too!, hehe).
        Texas' Rio Grande Valley had a number of DC-3's, -6's, and the smaller Cessna's, etc., working the 0'dark-thirty shift most nights, usually from the smaller fields or private strips. Fun times  :].

        "Double, double, toile and trouble; Fire burne, and Cauldron bubble... By the pricking of my Thumbes, Something wicked this way comes": Republicans!!. . Willkommen im Vierten Reich! Sie haben keine Bedeutung mehr.

        by Bluefin on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 04:42:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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