The one of a kind 747 SuperTanker proved to be the deciding factor in containing the destructive blazes that tore through Northern and Southern California late last year.
The fall of 2017 was a brutal one for the state of California, which faced the worst wildfires in its history. These fires, which raged throughout October, November, and December of last year, spread throughout the coast – from the wine region of Napa Valley up to the northern part of the state, to the hills of Los Angeles and Orange County, down to the Fallbrook area in the south. They caused incalculable loss, and their devastation cannot be overstated.
If, however, there was one thing to take solace in during all of the destruction, it was the brave and tireless relief efforts made by first responders, who battled around the clock to put out the blazes even as the dry and windy season made their task even more overwhelming. To that end, Aeronet Worldwide, a global logistics provider founded in California over 35 years ago, is proud to say that we had a small hand in helping them in their efforts.
One of Aeronet’s major capabilities is arranging the transportation and delivery of equipment and supplies during disaster relief efforts. Just last year, we were involved in the relief efforts in Chile, during the worst forest fires in that country’s history, we helped to deliver a replacement dump valve to “The Spirit of John Muir”, the SuperTanker 747 Boeing jet modified to battle the largest and most destructive fires the world over.
Aeronet was twice called again this year, in our home state, to help get “The Spirit of John Muir” off the ground.
The first such delivery took place during the third week of October, while roaring blazes ravaged the wine country of Northern California. The SuperTanker – which is equipped to drop over 19,000 gallons of water or fire retardant during a single sweep (at a mere 200 feet above ground level) – required a replacement engine before it could get in the air.
Unfortunately, the part (valued at $14 million) was located in Miami, Florida. It needed to get to California as soon as humanly possible, which is where Aeronet came in.
Contacted by a third party intermediary, we arranged for the delivery – which proved tricky due to the logistics of oversized cargo transportation across state lines to be made in three days. Engineers in Louisiana had to cut new night drive permits while the truck was on the road; and a police escort was required to get the vehicle into the next state.
Luckily, the timeframe was met: the engine arrived in Victorville on day 3, and the SuperTanker was in the air that Monday. It proved to be the salvation that everyone was counting on, as its payloads were what got the fires under control.
Less than 2 months later, Aeronet was once again contracted to deliver equipment to the SuperTanker, this time in order to get it flying in Southern California to help battle the Thomas Fire, which tore its destructive path all across Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.
This time, an A-frame jack system was needed to check the nose landing gear and front tires of the plane for obstructions. Aeronet got the call on Friday, and was able to move the A-frame jack from San Francisco to McClellan Air Force Base near Sacramento, where the SuperTanker was docked at the time.
Once again, the delivery was made on time – the Saturday evening the day after the order was put in, and The Spirit of John Muir was soon flying down south to the rescue.
While Aeronet’s efforts in these operations can’t compare to those of the brave men and women on the ground and in the air, who put their lives on the line to fight the destructive blazes, it is proud to have provided them with service during their heroic efforts.