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Firefighting SuperTanker Unveiled – The Denver Post

DENVER AND THE WEST

Firefighting supertanker unveiled in Colorado Springs demonstration

The converted B747-400 can dump nearly 20,000 gallons of water or fire retardant anywhere in the western U.S. within 3 hours

Denver Post staff

POSTED:   05/05/2016 12:43:26 PM MDT

Denver Post

The Spirit of John Muir, touted at the world’s biggest and fastest supertanker, was unveiled in Colorado Springs on Thursday. The converted B747-400, which will be based in Colorado Springs, reaches speeds of 600 mph. (Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post)

COLORADO SPRINGS — In the wake of blistering wildfire seasons across the country, the airplane touted as the world’s biggest and fastest supertanker, The Spirit of John Muir, on Thursday delivered a fly-by demonstration of its firefighting capacity.

Unveiled by Global SuperTanker Services, the converted B747-400 will be based in Colorado Springs, where the plane, which hits speeds of 600 mph, can be dispatched to respond to wildfires anywhere in the Western U.S. within three hours, according to the company.

The plane can deliver nearly 20,000 gallons of water or fire retardant, in multiple drops at variable rates, to create a finely tuned response to firefighting needs. The U.S. Forest Service and various state emergency responders can call on the 747 to assist their efforts on short notice.

The demonstration on Thursday was viewed by Gov. John Hickenlooper and other officials.

The firefighting asset isn’t confined to the U.S.: Its long-range capabilities at efficient altitudes enables it to reach any location in the world in under 20 hours.

“Longer and more destructive fire seasons are a global problem, and Global SuperTanker can deliver a global, rapid solution,” Jim Wheeler, president and CEO of the company, said in a statement.

Last year, more than 10 million acres burned, and experts have warned that fire seasons now tend to start earlier and last longer.

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