MESA, Ariz. (KSAZ) - The DC-10 retardant tanker, one of three in the nation, operates with a small but expert crew, according to Chris Price, assistant tanker base manager at the Mesa Gateway Airport Tanker Base.
"The pilot, co-pilot, obviously they fly the plane and the flight engineer who is responsible for making sure monitoring all the gages and all the equipment for the retardant drops," he said. "These are flight suits that are fire resistant material made of nomax and so this is what the pilots, everyone wears them in case there is sort of a fire inside the cabin."
The uniforms, a workspace for charts, notes and plans is all you will find inside the large aircraft, that at one time flew 355 passengers to and from Europe.
"A lot of room and a lot of capacity that makes them great for fire fighting," Price said.
The three planes made 13 trips total to and from Prescott on Wednesday, aiding in the battle against the Goodwin Fire by dropping over a million gallons of retardant on the flames.
"This is the liquid retardant after it's been mixed," Price said.
The mixture consists of one part liquid retardant and five parts of water and is mixed at the airport. The huge tanks hold 12,000 gallons, allowing the planes to refuel and return to duty in less than 25 minutes.
"Normally, they are spread around the nation," Price said. "One came from California, another came from New Mexico. For those guys to all be in one spot here it really sets the mood."
It's an indication of just how dire the wildfires are in Arizona.