The giant DC-10 used to be an international workhorse and mainstay of many international airlines. One one flight, it could carry hundreds of passengers to far off destinations around the world. Today, all of the passenger versions of the jet are retired. While cargo companies like FedEx still fly a variant (MD-10) of the jet, most remaining operators are retiring the jet as they approach heavy maintenance checks. A few DC-10s have found a new life as a fire tanker.
Known as the DC-10 Air Tanker, the giant slurry bomber is a specially modified DC-10 that can carry 12,000 gallons of water or fire retardant. The jet has internal baffles in the tanks to prevent the retardant from shifting during flight. It can empty the entire load in less than 30 seconds.
Fighting fires with a DC-10 is not without risk. In 2007, a tanker encountered rough air near the fire and lost lift. The wing of the jumbo jet hit trees but recovered and did not crash. It executed an emergency landing with damage to the leading edges. Everyone survived and the jet was repaired.
The Facebook video shown was taken on July 24th as the tanker fleet battled the growing blaze in Southern California.