Before you watch, a heads up. There’s a DC-10 coming. The first plane is not it. The big guns are right behind it. And it’s really impressive.
The lead plane you’ll see looks to be a King Air. Its job is to drop a visual line to help the firebomber hit the target dead on. The DC-10 here is a converted civilian airliner that can carry 11,600 gallons of fire suppressant. Classified along with a couple of other models as a V-LAT, the DC-10 is a big weapon to lay down a long line, up to a mile long, of suppressant. The one in this video is known as 914. It’s one of a small fleet of the planes modified into tankers by a Southern California company with the somewhat odd name of 10 Tanker Air Carrier. There are currently five DC-10 tankers operational.
What they put down looks like gentle rainfall, but it’s not. Retardant being released from a tanker can do major damage to people, vehicles and even structures. Check out this safety video for some eye-popping footage of an SUV getting destroyed by a smallish drop.